1. [Somuchpoker] On May 8th, PKC will once again be holding WPT National Korea in Jeju. What new, exciting things can we expect from the event this time around?
[Winfred] At every tournament we have hosted, we have always made sure to outdo ourselves at giving players a fresh, new tournament experience. This has included interesting elements, new events, and introducing new partners and sponsors that offer something extra, not just to the players’ experience at the felt, but to their whole experience in general. But aside from the new things, the PKC team has also been very invested in improving the core product that we have already established. We try as much as possible to hear the comments and suggestions given to us by the players and take them as a blueprint on how we can be better. For example, when we first rolled out the Poker King Cup during WPT National Philippines, it was intended to be an event targeted at that local market, and our first event. The overwhelming response we got from the players who joined that event gave us a very optimistic outlook regarding our event and the further development of poker in Manila. Now our Poker King Cup will be in WPT National Korea as well, and maybe every subsequent event after that. We are optimistic that it will gain popularity and followers that would want to follow it, so it’s not just another event. It will also be very true to our brand, in which the winner would not just be another champion, but a part of PKC, with special bonuses and trophies, as well as some souvenirs. We hope the special feeling the players get will help them better understand our brand.
Poker King Club President, Winfred Yu
2. [SMP] There has been an influx of poker events and activities in Jeju this past couple of years. What is it about Jeju that makes the place so special?
[W] Jeju is special for a lot of reasons. Location-wise, it is very close to Mainland China. From Shanghai, it only takes an hour and 25 minutes, and there are many direct flights to Jeju from different cities in China. Another thing is accessibility. Mainland Chinese people do not need visas to go to Jeju, so it is very convenient for them to go anytime. The place itself is a UNESCO site, and a very beautiful place to visit. With the increasing number of accommodations, food and shopping options, Jeju has a very big potential to be a highly competitive entertainment mecca in the future.
3. [SMP] How is the development of poker doing in Jeju?
[W] In the coming years, we will start to see a lot more international investment projects and developments in Jeju. Its tour packages, which include catering, transport, and accommodations, have also started to become more mature. These kinds of changes to Jeju’s tourism landscape make it a more attractive travel destination for tourists and poker enthusiasts, and when there is growth in tourism and entertainment offers, then poker will continue to grow as a form of entertainment as well.
4. [SMP] Is Poker King Cup always going to be a side-event, or do you have bigger plans?
[W] Poker King Cup was launched as a side-event during WPT National Philippines because we wanted to test out market response to a PKC-namesake event. But ever since that event exceeded our expectations in terms of positive feedback and hype, we have been planning to host a standalone event. We are actually in the middle of planning just that in Manila right now. Poker King Cup will be held at the Solaire Resort and Casino from June 9 – 13, 2016, featuring one Main Event and three side events. Hopefully, in the near future we could further develop Poker King Cup as a worldwide endeavor and introduce even more series.
The Poker King Cup event to be held from June 9 – 13, 2016 in Manila
5. [SMP] So is it mainly mass-reaching events Poker King Club has right now? Or are you still invested in the high-stakes poker games you are so well-known for?[W] Aside from Poker King Cup, we are also further developing our other smash-hit, the Triton Super High Roller Series, which also debuted during our event in Manila to an astounding success. It broke the WPT record as its highest buy-in event ever at 200,000USD. Now we are in the process of implementing that event in a number of other places in Europe and Asia. Hopefully we can continue to provide that kind of excellent level of service to the guests as well.
Triton SHR Series Final Table at WPT National Philippines
6. [SMP] In the recent years, Poker King Club has become more invested in developing its poker tournaments. Is that the direction you are going for? •
[W] Our future development lies in both cash games and tournaments. At first, Poker King Club was primarily a cash game venture, but lately, we have also started to get a lot of requests to organize tournaments for other companies and enterprises who wanted to host their events in our poker room. Texas Hold’em has gotten to a point in its popularity where it has become a viable entertainment option for many people. Our partners get to choose from any of our three locations, and we help them with everything from conducting exchanges with the casinos, event planning, designing and promotional efforts. We welcome this type of cooperation, as well as ventures with bigger tournament brands, because it helps us to grow and mature further as a brand, in terms of the knowledge and experience.
7. [SMP] You have three poker rooms in three different locations – Macau, Manila and Jeju. What are some of the challenges you have faced in regards to local conditions? How do you tackle those? And what are the mutual benefits of having three room locations?
[W] Because of the different policies and sets of requirements in the three locations, the challenges we face are all varied. For example, in Macau, labor costs and taxes are much more expensive, bringing our overhead to a significant amount higher than the other rooms. Poker in Manila, I should say, is more mature and saturated, and so there, our challenge is to go toe-to-toe with the competition, and really grow our local database of players. Jeju, out of the three, is probably the most laid-back. But that market is younger in comparison to the other two locations, so the surrounding environment has yet to catch up. The key to those challenges, I think, lies in the management teams we have gotten for all three rooms. We usually use local talent, people who can navigate the local landscape. It helps a lot with communication and local policies. The mutual benefit our rooms have is the flexible allocation of items for different events and rooms, and it is more feasible for us to have more events happening simultaneously. As part of their training, many of our staff also get to experience what is happening in the other poker rooms, so I daresay our staff have more experience tackling a wide variety of challenges, not just the ones local to them.
8. [SMP] I believe many people have already asked you this, but now that you have opened another successful poker room in Jeju, where are you looking to next?
[W] We recently had the chance to explore other emerging Asian countries with great poker potential, like Vietnam and Cambodia. But as to what our next stop would be? I guess you would just have to look forward to it.
9. [SMP] Looking at the current development of poker in Asia, at what stage do you think it is now? Also, what trends can we expect with poker in Asia?
[W] Poker has been rapidly developing in recent years. Nowadays, we have more and more people joining the industry in different capacities, like media, artists, politicians, and businessmen, roles beyond just the poker tables. This proves that the industry is in its progression stage, ever-expanding to span other fields. I believe that in the future there will even more characters who will join the landscape and innovate what we know now about poker.