In this regular feature in IAG to celebrate 17 years covering the Asian gaming and leisure industry, we look back at our cover story from exactly 10 years ago, ”Playing a winning hand,“ to rediscover what was making the news in July 2012!
All that’s old is new again, or so it seems. In the July 2012 issue of Inside Asian Gaming, our team delved into the rapidly growing world of live poker across Asia – led by the Asian Poker Tour (APT) and PokerStars’ Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT).
Led by growing numbers of mainland Chinese players travelling not only to Macau but further afield to the Philippines, Cambodia and India among other venues, IAG pointed to events such as APT Macau at StarWorld – which attracted a field of more than 300 enthusiasts – and series fields topping 1,000 in Manila as evidence of the game’s popularity.
Fast forward a decade and the game is growing once again – this time coming off the COVID-19 pandemic when card rooms all across Asia-Pacific were forced to shut down. The World Poker Tour, which has been aggressively expanding its brand across Asia-Pacific, saw a national record of 777 players enter the Main Event of WPT Vietnam in early June, coming off a record-breaking WPTDeepStacks Sydney Main Event which attracted 2,023 runners in March.
Meanwhile, the Asian Poker Tour has announced plans for substantial regional expansion, having already revealed new deals for tour stops in Manila, Hanoi and Taiwan.
And even the APPT is back after a lengthy hiatus, holding the APPT Open Manila in June with a Main Event field of 464 players.
One problem persists, however, from 2012 when the IAG team wrote, “Growing the game in Macau remains difficult … the biggest obstacle, ironically, being the city’s very success as the destination of choice for the biggest of China’s big-money gamblers, whose game of choice is baccarat.”
Despite enjoying a brief boom in the years that followed – the 2018 Macau Millions at City of Dreams attracted a massive field of 2,499 players – the strict implementation of a table cap ultimately saw the PokerStars Live Macau room at COD close its doors that very same year as operators, understandably, chose to fill their gaming floors with more baccarat tables.
We can only hope that, one day in the future, Macau will again play a part in this latest Asian poker boom.