A chat with Hsing “David” Tai: the man at the forefront of Poker in Taiwan

While onsite for the GPL China Season 2 – Taiwan Tour & Master Poker Series, Somuchpoker had the opportunity to interview Hsing “David” Tai of the Chinese Texas Hold’em Poker Association (CTP). Tai talked about opening numerous poker rooms in various cities all over Taiwan, the growing market, the legalities, and the upcoming events for 2019.

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“David” Tai and Somuchpoker Team

SMP: When did you open CTP Taipei?

Hsing “David” Tai: I opened this branch in September. This is the 7th CTP I’ve opened. I opened in Tao Yuan first then Yi Lan, Taipei, Hsin Zu, Tai Zung, New Taipei City, and another here in Taipei. Each city one poker room. The Yi Lan room is closed. The city was too small. Then the first one I opened here in Taipei is now being run by a new association. So I now handle 5 CTP rooms. The first one, Tao Yuan, opened around 3 and a half years ago and the newest one, this one, opened just in September. The  CTP club is the biggest poker association in Taiwan.

SMP: Was the Tao Yuan poker room the first dedicated poker room that opened in Taiwan? And how big was it?

Hsing “David” Tai: No there were several poker rooms open by then but the government has since closed many of them. There were many underground. I started with two tables and another table in the nearby night market to let people know about the room. Now that location has grown 10 tables but no more at the night market.

SMP: Which room is the largest?

Hsing “David” Tai: This one. It has 25 tables. It is also the biggest in all of Taiwan.

CPT Taipei Taiwan

SMP: Having opened several rooms all over Taiwan, does that mean it is easy to get government approval?

Hsing “David” Tai: For us yes because one department of government gives us the license and we received the IFMP – International Federation of Match Poker- license. We are the only ones that received this and it is only for poker. We promote poker as a sport that requires skill. Other rooms have the approval from the government but they do not have the IFMP license.

SMP: So does that mean the CTP room only offers tournaments and no cash games 

Hsing “David” Tai: Yes, we only offer poker tournaments. No cash games.

SMP: Do your poker rooms offer games where you can win points?

Hsing “David” Tai: No, that’s still similar to cash games. It is very dangerous.

SMP: Since cash games aren’t allowed, are players able to win real money on the tournaments?

Hsing “David” Tai: Yes, players win money, not points. Because it is a tournament, it is okay to receive cash prizes. We offer tournaments everyday and also satellites to the big events. We have different types of tournaments. Higher buy-in tournaments are usually on the weekends for more players to join.

SMP: Do you also offer other games or just Texas Hold’em?

Hsing “David” Tai: Yes we also have Omaha and Short Deck. These games are similar to Hold’em so it is allowed but games like OFC Pineapple is not offered because it is very different.

SMP: What is the biggest CTP house event?

Hsing “David” Tai: The Taiwan Millions is our biggest event. It is the biggest local tournament in Taiwan. We will be running the fifth Taiwan Millions Tournament (TMT) next month from January 16 to January 27. It has an 8 thousand buy-in (NTD 8,000) and we guarantee NTD 2 Million. Since we only opened this location (CTP – Taipei) in September, it will be the first time it will be held here. The first three Taiwan Millions was in Tao Yuan and the last one was in New Taipei City. The last one had 537 entries.

SMP: Why did you decide to start opening poker rooms?

Hsing “David” Tai: (laughs) Because I like this game. When I travel to play, I see the poker rooms in Macau and the Philippines and I felt it would be a good idea to open in Taiwan and try to make it legal. It was very hard then, two to three years ago, the government, they don’t trust us. They don’t trust that what we are doing is not gambling. They still thought that our rooms were operating underground. Government is strict. Until today, the police still come to check to make sure we aren’t doing anything illegal.

SMP: When you decided to open what was the Taiwan poker scene like?

Hsing “David” Tai: Poker wasn’t big when I opened but there were many underground games. Today it has grown. There are more and more players. I would do many big events and see many new players. Also, many foreign players come over from Hong Kong the most, then Japan, China, Korea, Singapore, even some USA that live here.

SMP: You mentioned that the Taiwan Millions is the biggest local tournament in Taiwan. How about for the international events? Last month J88Poker had largest Main Event prize pool of over NTD 6 Million. Just to get an idea of the field, what percentage of the Main Event would you say was made up of local players?

Hsing “David” Tai: There were 360 entries so I would say around 75 percent were local players. We had a total of 1534 entries for the whole series. But we hope that more players travel to Taiwan for the next events. We have many things to offer other than just poker. Many famous sites, good food.

SMP: From what we’ve heard there are many poker rooms in Taiwan?

Hsing “David” Tai: There are not that many because some poker rooms here don’t have a license to become an association. So they register under company, not association. Those companies offer other games too like baccarat. CTP is an association. Also, some rooms are not really poker rooms. They only have one or two tables as part of their restaurant, something like that. They can only do cash games with points. There are probably only four poker clubs in Taipei and seven or eight in New Taipei City.

SMP: Do you have the right to market your place?

Hsing “David” Tai: Yes, we market in Facebook and some apps in China. We also offer satellites online for our big tournaments like in PPPoker, PokerMaster, J88 Poker.

SMP: Do you have your own app?

Hsing “David” Tai: We don’t have our own app because I like to work with many online apps to bring in more players to our events.

SMP: How about the GPIC Masterboard? It seems to be a good marketing tool / incentive for your poker rooms. It launched here and you are the first club to join.

Hsing “David” Tai: Yes, that’s a big thing. Players in Taiwan that join our events earn points to the GPIC Masterboard. So we hope that more join our events so they earn more points. All tournaments in our rooms earn them points to the GPIC Masterboard. Even the APT event and the Taiwan Millions. Any event in the CTP rooms earns them points. I think the most important thing to players is not just the money but also the glory and the trophy. Some even come to make friends. Not many players become professional players. Only maybe 5%. Most people like the Masterboard. Every month we give the top players of each of our rooms freeroll tickets and even free dinner as incentive. They even get featured in our RFID table so they can share the video with their friends and family.

SMP: You mentioned that other than the Taiwan Millions next month, there will also be an APT event. Any other plans you have for CTP in the next year?

Hsing “David” Tai: The TMT, then the APT, then I hope maybe the WPT and maybe PokerStars can hold events here. Maybe also APL. We also have a big Champions Event planned. We are putting together 100 small events during the year and giving away 100 Championship Passes each one worth NTD 30,000 (~US$1000). In December, all the champions compete. Players who want to join but didn’t win a pass can buy-in. We are thinking of guaranteeing around NTD 10 Million. It is sponsored by J88Poker.

SMP: Seems like a very exciting 2019! Thank you for your time David.

Chinese Texas Hold’em Poker Association
B1F., No.32, Sec. 3, Bade Rd.,
Songshan Dist.
Taipei City, 105 Taiwan
+886 3 427 6098

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