For Chinese players, every year since 2013 the China Poker Games (CPG) Championship has been the event to look forward to. Held in Sanya, Hainan Island, it is the biggest annual event in Asia with eight days of nonstop festivities running at the end of August. For the past seven years, the Main Event has gained tremendous popularity that the prize pool has grown from $ 1.6 million to an incredible $ 4.1 million in 2019. If not for the current COVID-19 pandemic, this trend was expected to continue.
However, all is not lost. Last month, CPG resumed its operations hosting a CPG Satellite in Fuzhou. Then just this weekend, another one was held in Shanghai. The turnout of both events was impressive, seeing easily over a thousand entries at each stop. As part of the winnings, all ITM players received a package to the CPG Championship Main Event which will take place as planned in Sanya from August 21 to 28.
Challenges due to the pandemic
Given the crisis, it may be mind boggling or possibly even shocking to hear of a live event of that magnitude resuming. To do so, safety measures must be in place according to the government’s strict regulations. For CPG, abiding and adapting to the regulations is one of the reasons for the brand’s continued success. Yet despite following the rules to a tee, it still has its challenges and compromises.
Take for instance the incident at CPG Satellite Fuzhou in mid-June. The local disease control center closed the hotels and stopped the ongoing event due to a new outbreak in Beijing. At the time, 28 players from Beijing were in attendance. An emergency Covid-19 test was conducted covering 3 hotels, over 4,000 patrons plus staff, all in a matter of 24 hours. The results came out negative allowing the event to resume. Out of the 560 pre-sold Day 1C tickets, 489 still played, the rest were refunded. Overall, the event drew a commendable 1,296 entries across three starting days.
Another adjustment was the number of satellites offered. There are usually five CPG Satellite events that feed players into the CPG Championship Main Event. Only three were held. The first one was in October 2019 in Zhuhai with 1,350 entries, Fuzhou in mid-June 2020, and ongoing is CPG Satellite Shanghai which just completed its three starting days pulling in a massive 1,906 entries.
Options for foreign players
While nearly every player at the CPG Championship hails from the home country, the past two years has seen a growth – albeit small – in foreign attendance. This is due to the government’s encouragement to attract more international players to Hainan Island. However, this year’s event will obviously see close to zero foreign players. With stiff measures in place, the only foreign players allowed to participate are those that can prove they’ve been in the country or those that have managed to enter China, have passed all the tests and the required 14-day quarantine. For foreign players that have already won CPG Championship tickets via the CPG app but are unable to attend, two options are available: redeem the tickets to credits on the app for future use or sell the ticket.
CPG Championship Main Event
The upcoming CPG Championship will take place from August 21 to 28 at the Resort Howard Johnson Sanya Bay. A lineup of events is planned with the Main Event – RMB 10,000,000 (~US$ 1.4M) guaranteed as the highlight. Buy in for the main is RMB 10,000 (~US$ 1,400). Last year the event produced 3,132 entries for a record breaking $ 4.1 million prize pool that was nearly triple the guarantee. This was the largest Main Event prize pool ever seen in Asia.
Despite the crisis, CPG has every intention of breaching that figure this August. Online satellites on the CPG app run daily leading up to the event with an expected 1300 to 1500 qualifiers. The only reason the numbers may fall behind is if the Sanya local authorities enforce a cap on the number of entries allowed per day.