In figures: The Health of Tournament Poker in Philippines and Macau

With the help of leading poker ranking company, Global Poker Index (GPI) we have been able to take a more detailed look at how tournament poker is faring in Philippines and Macau, whether these locations are growing in popularity, and what that means for poker in Asia.

Philippines: Tournament poker is flourishing


  Number of events Number of entries Total amount buyin+fee (in USD) Average event buyin+fee (in USD)
2015 147 15,258 5,968,381 568
2014 85 9,190 5,296,702 859

Datas provided by the GPI

More events, more entries

The Philippines is swiftly becoming known as the heartbeat of Asian poker, with statistics strongly supporting this idea. There is a surprisingly strong upward trend in the number of tournaments hosted there, with 87 taking place in 2014, and a remarkable 147 in 2015, which represents a 69% increase. This would of course be meaningless if overall participation numbers each year had remained constant, but that figure has also seen significant growth, with a 66% rise, from 9,190 in 2014, to 15,258 in 2015.

There is certainly a correlation between the opening of PokerStars Live Manila room, the APT poker room, and Poker King Club, and the rise in events hosted in Asia, but this is not the sole driving force behind these rising numbers. It's easy to add many more events to the annual schedule, but the matching growth in participation numbers is the key statistic. This demonstrates a genuine increase in demand for poker. The Philippines have moved ahead of Macau in terms of the number of tournaments being hosted, but players come from across Asia, and other parts of the world for these tournaments, meaning that poker growth is clearly not restricted to this localised region.


Poker is flourishing in Philippines

A smaller average Buy In

Although many important numbers are on the rise, one number is falling. The average buy in for a tournament in the Philippines has shifted from $859 in 2014, to $568 in 2015. In a context of an increased competition between poker rooms,  average buy-In amounts have been dropped but all of the usual bigger buy in tournaments have remained a feature in 2015. For 2016 we can expect a increase of  the number of big buy in events in the country with the recent Triton Super High Roller Series in January being a clear example of that.

The total figure for buy ins offered in the Philippines, collectively, has risen from USD$5,296,702 to USD$5,968,381 in 2015. Whichever way you look at it, the numbers shout a simple truth at you: Poker in the Philippines, is on a path of evolution and growth – and this trend appears to be gathering momentum.


Macau finds room for poker to grow


  Number of events Number of entries Total amount buyin+fee (in USD) Average event buyin+fee (in USD)
2015 104 18,219 25,920,671 2,103
2014 85 17,391 24,797,404 2,302

Datas provided by the GPI

Tournament poker keeps growing

Macau, as a gambling destination, is in total disarray. That much has been reported upon extensively in recent times, with the government in mainland China tightening it's grip on the sector. In the process, it has driven away the VIP's and is choking all life out of the industry in Macau. This structural crisis creates an uncertain future for gaming, but had virtually no effect on the health of poker. When specifically examining tournament poker in Macau, it should be noted that PokerStars have monopolised this area with their live poker room, and attempts by the APT to host an event there have been unsuccessful in 2015. Even with the issues facing Macau, the statistics pertaining to tournament poker there are quite promising. The total number of tournament entries in Macau has risen from 17,391 in 2014, to 18,219. The total amount of money spent on tournament buy ins has also increased, from USD$24,797,404 to USD$25,920,671. These increases are quite modest in that they have only grown by under 5%, but when you look at the difficulties facing Macau at the moment, any type of growth is impressive.

Macau Millions Field

A total of a 2,343 players entered in the 2016 Macau Millions Main Event which represents Macau record for largest field

The average tournament buy in fee drops slightly

Like the Philippines, the average tournament buy in fee has dropped slightly in Macau, but remains 4 times higher than it's neighbour, at USD$2,103. The figure stood at USD$2,302 in 2014. This is no cause for concern, as rising player numbers will often lead to a few extra small buy in events being added to the schedule.

The numbers in Macau are a reflection of overall poker growth, just on a smaller scale than in the Philippines. The real hope is that poker prosperity in Macau, and to a larger extent, in the Philippines, will lead to a ripple effect, spreading out across Asia. 


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Louis Hartwell

Graduated in Media Communication at the University of Lausanne, Louis Hartman is a co-founder of He began his career in Cambodia as freelance journalist. In same time he was making his living by playing poker every night at that time. Intense learner, he read dozens of poker strategy books to improve his skills during many years. With a strong interest about poker "behind the scene" in Asia and his communication skills, Louis launched Somuchpoker in 2014.

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