After standing down from his former role at Solaire in April, Mike Kim has joined forces with Pokerstars to develop their City of Dreams poker room. He brings with him great experience, a trusted name, and a strong volume of player traffic. Cash games have really picked up momentum since his arrival, with games running up to PhP 500/1000. 8 tables of action are running almost every night, and there are also Omaha tables on offer too, which are now running regularly. The arrival of Mike Kim came with several changes, which have been made to create a more appealing poker environment for all players. Buy in and rake policy shifts were the top priority, with high stakes players being given a better deal in terms of rake. For example, the rake now stand at 5% with a PhP 1500 (34$) cap for PhP 2000/4000 stakes (45$/90$).
It is not only the cash games which have seen improvements. After the two first editions of the Manila Megastack, which have been a way to test the market, PokerStars has decided to offer some lower buy in tournaments with strong guaranteed prize pools, making use of the good flow of player traffic to attract plenty of participants. The first of these "new" events has in fact already taken place between May 14th -17th, offering a PhP 1 million (22.000$) guaranteed prize pool for a PhP 4000 (90$) buy in. The 'Pokerstars Live 1 million Guarantee' was a great success, with 368 players buying in to create a prize pool which easily surpassed the 1 million figure.
APPT Manila will be the real test for PokerStars Live Manila
Pokerstars Live Manila are already offering satellites to the next big event scheduled, which is the APPT Manila. This is a large prestigious event which will be the real test of how far this Pokerstars room has come in terms of it's development. Last year the APPT Manila was hosted at the Metro Card Club, and saw Thanh Ha Duong of Vietnam take victory in the APPT season 8 Manila Main Event after an exciting final table, besting a field of 260 in the process. This year, the location has changed, but the schedule of great Holdem events remains constant. The Main Event has a PHP$50,000 buy in (1100$) and will take place between August 6th – 9th with numerous side events scheduled in the days leading up to the main, including the Megastack Freezeout on August 8th, which has a PHP$25,000 buy in (560$).
A bright future for the poker scene in Philippines
APPT president Danny McDonagh has a clear vision of poker in Manila and the role the APPT is playing, as outlined by his recent words to Somuchpoker on the subject: “The poker scene in Philippines is very important to me, as Manila in 2007 was the first ever APPT tournament and I have been back many times since. Over the years there was a big surge in interest in the country with both the FPT and APPT being shown on TV, and interest probably peaked around 4 years ago. Now I think its time to see poker growing again with the opening of new "Super" Casinos. Mike Kim has a lot to do with the resurgence of poker and finally we have a home in Manila at the fabulous City of Dreams, where we can now showcase our poker tournaments to both locals and international visitors.”
On an international level Danny sees The Philippines as a great area for poker growth, and he added: “A great venue together with the warmth of the people in the Philippines I am sure will build international player interest in coming to Manila and also give the local players many more opportunities to win a satellite to our major events.” His final words hinted at the growing competition in the area which should be great for poker players who can enjoy a choice of top class poker rooms in Manila. “So, while it is a very competitive market, I feel the future is bright for the poker scene here in the Philippines.”