Nanjing Millions: Bad times for the Chinese poker community and Pokerstars

Seven days ago, the police was shutting down APPT Najing Million. As the dust settles on what has been a damaging week for the long term growth of poker in China, more details are becoming clear about how such a situation could unfold at such a professionally organised and sponsored event like the APPT Nanjing.

Follow Up To The Police Shut Down

Few days ago, the People's Republic of China say that Star Poker Club the organizer is “currently under police control, for alleged gambling and criminal activity.” Since the story first broke in the poker world, it has gathered momentum in mainstream Chinese media. Satellite channel IFENG, news channel CCTV13, along with CCTV4 which is an international channel, have all covered the events in Nanjing.

These outlets have ensured that the tournament has been painted in a very unfriendly light, and declared as criminal in nature. The tournament had 165 runners left when it was shut down, and the eventual resolution of the situation remains uncertain. One source from World Gaming Magazine has said that all entrants are likely to be repaid their buy in fee, which would amount to USD$1,129,000. Another source claimed that the remaining players will probably be paid by equity based on their chip counts.

Nanjing Million

Eventual resolution of  the tournament  remains uncertain

Pokerstars Reaction and Involvement

Since the closure, Pokerstars has released a statement claiming that they were simply a sponsor that couldn't have foreseen this, and are trying to put plenty of distance between their brand and the embarrassing situation. According to their version of events, Star Poker Club took on almost all of the organising responsibility and supplied most of the staff for the tournament. In the statement Pokerstars provided to World Gaming Magazine they were quick to point out that the tournament “was sanctioned by the local government through the Jiangsu Provincial Chess Sports Association and held at the Jiangsu Wutaishan Sports Centre, an official Olympic venue.

The event was sponsored by the Pokerstars owned APPT brand, along with Pokerstars themselves. They claim that they weren't at all responsible for the problems which unfolded as sponsor. It cannot be unseen that Pokerstars was heavily involved in the organisation of many previous APPT events, and it must be said, that this event was promoted on their site in the same way, and some Pokerstars staff were certainly there helping with the event when it was closed down.

Explaining the decision taken by Chinese authorities

Inefficient legal checks were clearly undertaken in organising this event. Local authorities sanctioned the event, but it seems that there were no endorsements from national governing authorities. The Director of Chess Sports Management Centre, Guo Yujun has since said according to World Gaming Magazine that "the centre had never approved any Texas Hold'em events." Furthermore, he reminded that " in 2012 the Ministry of Public Security had placed Texas Hold'em on the list of crimes" which makes it all the more surprising that a large and well publicised Texas Hold'em tournament was hosted in a Chinese venue.

The re buy format clearly fanned the flames by theoretically allowing unlimited money to be wagered on the tournament, which meant more profits for sponsors and organisers, but also made it appear to be a clear case of gambling.

Chinese President Xi Jinpingy decleared war on the global gambling industry

Few weeks  ago, the words of Chinese president Xi Jinping were suggestive of a man who was very unhappy with offshore gaming operators targeting Chinese citizens as a potential new market.  In this context, it has to reminded that Pokerstars accepts Chinese players at their online site, and that their brand is offering now in addition to poker, casino games which are clearly prohibited by the Chinese Autorities. 



Avatar photo

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.

More Posts

Follow Me:
Special EmailTwitterFacebookFlickrYouTube