Out of all the highly revered poker outfits in the Asian region, one brand known to take plenty of risks is the Asian Poker Tour (APT). Based in the Philippines, the APT is a true pioneer of the sport. The brand takes on several new destinations each year, even going as far as the tiny French colony of New Caledonia. For 2018, more destinations have been announced and to launch the new season, they flew to Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon) to host the APT Kickoff Vietnam 2018. This was their first season opener outside of Manila.
The ten-day poker festival has been ongoing at the Pro Poker Club with a massive turnout of players from Vietnam and from other parts of the world eager to take part in this inaugural event in HCMC. The doors opened on January 19, and everyday since then, the poker room has been filled to capacity.
Last night, registration for the Main Event closed with an enormous 664 entries – a new record for the APT. This was amassed over the course of three starting days, and an extra hour into Day 2. Whether this was expected or not, it was nothing short of a huge success especially with the VND 3 Billion Guarantee in the dust. APT Executive Tournament Director, Lloyd Fontillas expressed to Somuchpoker,
“Overwhelming turnout. It’s great to be in Vietnam, it’s fresh. It’s a very fresh kickoff for the Asian Poker Tour as well. First time ever we’ve kicked off in a different country other than the Philippines and I think it was great.”
The biggest prize pool in Vietnamese history
With poker booming in Vietnam, it was high time that a major international poker event take place. The market is young with many players eager to take the game into the public realm. This was evident in the sheer volume of the APT Main Event. Many locals were in attendance and with an incredible 664 entries, the prize pool catapulted to VND 9,661,200,000 (~US$425,000), which is over three times the guarantee. Undoubtedly, this has become the biggest tournament poker prize pool the country has ever seen.
Changes made to accommodate the success
But it didn’t come without hitches. Talking about problems and challenges, several side events and satellites had to be cancelled to give way to the volume of players for the Main Event. At the completion of the three starting days, there were 321 qualifiers to Day 2, and for a room that has a maximum of 20 tables, adjustments were in order once again.
According to Fontillas, “The preparation that went behind this was a little bit off though I have to say. We ran out of chips, which is always a good problem. It wasn’t one of the greatest problems but you make it work. This is also the first time ever we’ve had to split Day 2 into two flights just to accommodate.”
More APT events in Vietnam
With this highly successful inaugural event, the APT will likely be returning sooner than not. Although Fontillas didn’t disclose the APT’s future plans in Vietnam, he did state,
“We are definitely going to come back. We would love to be in Vietnam twice of three times a year. Probably two in Ho Chi Minh in the major city and then try to pick one of the beach properties to do something, hopefully. The amount of players here, the love for poker, it is a refreshing market.”
With the government loosening up on tournament poker last year, the number of local poker clubs and poker federations has grown exponentially in Vietnam. Add in the recent turnout of the APT Main Event, Asia now has a new poker destination to enjoy.
Article by Triccia David