After the fiasco of the APPT Nanjing Millions a lot of people speculated that poker in China would deteriorate. The APPT Nanjing Millions was sponsored by PokerStars and was considered one of the biggest tournaments in Mainland China until it got raided before it could reach its end. With President Xi Jinping’s war on gambling and how hard the government authorities came down on the organizers, the poker community really didn’t know if there was a chance for poker to grow in Mainland China.
But after a year, people witnessed that this was not so. As a matter of fact, the opposite came true and poker flourished by leaps and bounds despite restrictions on gambling.
This is evidenced by the recently ended tournaments in Mainland China, namely, the China Poker Games (CPG), the WPT National China 2016 and other actors in the market.
China Poker Games: 1294 players
The CPG which was held in Howard Johnson Resort Sanya Bay, Hainan last August 25-31, 2016 reached a participation of 1,294 players which was a 20% increase from the previous year. Because of the size of the field, the guaranteed prize came to around US$1.5 Million which was one of the higher prize pools that Asia experienced. Champion Zhi Lin from China took home a whopping USD$295,000 for first place.
WPT National China
On the other hand, The WPT National China 2016 held in MGM Grand Sanya from October 28 to November 3, 2016 was won by Chen Hao who outlasted 886 players to win over USD$200,000. Although World Poker Tour (WPT) could amass a great field of participants, the organizers had decided to implement an 888 player field cap to ensure abidance of the brand with Chinese regulations.
Asia Poker League (APL) makes an entrance
The year 2016 also saw the Asia Poker League (APL) make an entrance into Mainland China with its first tournament offering which happened in the Beijing Poker Club last August. Gunning for a field of 500 players, the APL was attended by 465 which was very close to their target. Apart from that, they achieved to pool together not only players from China but international players as well.
Due to its relative success, the APL will be holding another event right outside Shanghai, in Kunshan City from November 23 to 29, 2016.
International Poker Open
Another player in this scene is the International Poker Open Festival which amassed a participation of 497 entries in its last event held in Changsa, Hunan province. Although seemingly not as impressive as the others, the presence of the IPO contributes to the overall health of the poker community in China, providing the community with avenues to test and hone their skills.
If the success of these tournaments are not enough evidence of the growing popularity of poker in China, then maybe the involvement of the largest internet group in China and owners of WeChat & QQ will seal the deal.
Tencent Group with its popular social online platform, Tencent Poker, will be holding live events in Sanya on December 15-22, 2016. There is no doubt that the involvement of such a mainstream company with its enormous resources can only be a portent of good things to come for the Chinese poker scene.
And with that the community definitely has nothing to fear about the growth of poker in China but instead has a lot of things to look forward to in the coming years.
Article by Gabrielle Ruiz-Barredo