Gambling is a tradition deeply rooted in the Asian culture (especially in China and Vietnam). Slot machines and table games are extremely popular there, and recently poker started to conquer Asian hearts and wallets. Given the fact, that playing cards have been invented in China, it might seem a little odd that it took so many years for poker to find it’s place on the Asian continent.
Our slant-eyed friends had to show a bit of patience, since the poker boom just began thanks to the advent of online casinos, which reached every nook and corner of the world, including Asia – where poker also started gaining interest, thanks to immigrants having successful poker careers in the United States. A lot of them can boast with astronomical wins, signing contracts with renowned poker rooms and continuous presence in the media. A few of the most recognizable poker players who not only won millions of dollars in cash, but also the hearts of poker enthusiasts, are Men Nguyen, Scotty Nguyen, John Juanda and Johnny Chan.
Poker in Macau
Macau is an extraordinary place for any gambling enthusiast, it’s often referred to as the Las Vegas of Asia. First poker room in Macau was established in 2007. As of today, the number of poker rooms has risen to five. Playing poker in Macau is definitely a pastime for those both rich and with nerves of steel, considering REALLY high stakes there.
Wynn Macau Poker Room
Wynn is a casino that should be familiar to anyone who’s ever been in Las Vegas. It’s counterpart in Macau was established thanks to the rising popularity of poker in Asia. Unlike other poker rooms in Macau, where Texas Hold’em prevails, here you can play no limit Hold’em and pot limit Omaha. Wynn Macau is the place, where poker professionals from all over the world can be spotted. You can not only enjoy a game of poker there, but also meet your favorite poker stars.
Grand Lisboa Poker Room
Grand Lisboa is the PokerStars Macau “headquarters”, without doubt the largest poker room in entire Asia. Apart from regular cash games, tournaments are held here on a regular basis. The only poker variation available there is Texas Hold’em, and you can play it on one of 33 different tables. The casino holds Asian Poker Tour main events, where poker icons can be spotted as well.
Hard Rock (City of Dreams) Poker Room
Hard Rock Hotel attracts poker enthusiasts with an exclusive casino, located in the famous City of Dreams. Players can choose from 7 no limit Texas Hold’em tables, out of which 2 are VIP only – and that’s precisely where the most important and the most thrilling games take place.
Venetian Macau Poker Room
Opinions on this casino are diverse. They have just a few no limit Texas Hold’em tables (with 10/25 HKD blinds), which allows spectators to follow any games held there closely. Poker players who choose this poker room are said to be passive and rash – a perfect combination for someone looking for easy prey.
StarWorld Poker Room
The casino features 11 poker tables, where you can play both limit and no limit Hold’em. Tournaments are held there on a regular basis, and because of high limits, you can often meet professionals there. If someone would like to take a break from poker for some reason, there’s a baccarat table just next to the poker tables. StarWorld is the venue where this year’s Asian Poker Tour Macau is going to be held.
Macau Poker Cup
Macau Poker Cup, next to Asian Poker Tour, is one of the 2 most important poker tournaments in the region. First MPC tournaments were held in 2008. The most important event of the Cup is without doubt the Red Dragon. Just about anyone can participate in the event, given that he can afford a 11 000 HKD buy-in (about $1500). It’s definitely worth a try – in 2011, the guaranteed prize pool was 3 000 000 HKD (almost $400 000). Apart from that, you can of course meet a lot of renowned poker pros there.
Asian Poker Tour
One of the largest and most prestigious tournaments in Asia – the Asian Poker Tour (APT) was first organized in 2008, in Singapore. Main APT prizes are tens of thousands of dollars – it shouldn’t be surprising that this event attracts a lot of famous poker players. Most events are held in Manila and the Asian Vegas, Macau.
- 2012 APT Asian Series Cebu – Tan Tai Zheng (Singapore)
- 2011 APT Asian Series Goa – Sangeeth Mohan (India)
- 2011 APT Series Manila – Vic De Guzman (Philippines)
- 2011 APT Philippines – Enrique Del Prado Jr. (Philippines)
- 2011 APT Asian Series Cebu – Andreas Lindblom (Sweden)
- 2010 APT Macau – Zhang Dan Peng (China)
- 2010 APT Philippines – Michael Cua (Philippines)
- 2009 APT Macau – Adiren Allain (France)
- 2009 APT Philippines – Neil Arce (Philippines)
- 2008 APT Makau – Yevgeniy Timoshenko (USA)
- 2008 APT Philippines – David Saab (Australia)
Asian poker stars
This poker player born in Vietnam, now lives in Sacramento. His biggest success up to date is the 2nd place in L.A Poker Classic/WPT, where he won $1 177 010. His biggest dream is becoming a respected tournament and cash games player.
Total winnings: $7 466 010
WSOP bracelets: 2
Birth date: 20.01.1977
Hobbies: golf and fishing
Style: very aggressive
Trivia: If he could change one thing in the world, he would teach people the idea of unity and brotherhood, so all people could work together towards a better, peaceful reality.
Johnny is a Chinese-born poker player, who settled in the US in 1968 to study at the university of Houston. When he reached 21, he dropped out and moved to Las Vegas to begin a professional poker player career. His most remarkable moments are 1st places in the World Poker Tour of 1987 and 1988. His biggest dream of opening his own casino has not been realized up to date.
Nickname: „The Orient Express”
Total winnings: $6 146 365
WSOP bracelets: 10
Birth date: 1957
Hobbies: spending time with his family, bowling, swimming, cars, food, fashion
Style: fast, aggressive
Trivia: Friends with Matt Damon, always brings an orange to a poker table.
Scotty was born in Vietnam, and he came to the US in 1974 at the age of 14. Shortly after, he was expelled from school, as he would rather play poker than attend classes. He began his adventure with professional poker as a dealer.
Nickname: „The Prince of Poker”
Total winnings: $10 935 692
WSOP bracelets: 5
Birth date: 28.10.1962
Hobbies: family, pets (monkeys!), fishing, making babies (7 as of today)
Trivia: As a child, he escaped his homeland on his own. Devoted to his fans. Has 13 brothers and sisters.
In 1967, thirteen year old Men dropped out of school to help provide for his family – he became a bus driver. 10 years later, along with 87 fellow countrymen he escaped Vietnam and settled in the United States. Men eagerly helps young poker players and supports Vietnamese charities.
Nickname: „The Master”
Total winnings $8 740 034
WSOP bracelets: 7
Birth date: 1954
Hobbies: spending time with family, teaching poker, charities
Trivia: He financed building 2 schools in Vietnam. In 2006 he bought 14 000 kg of rice for poor Vietnamese families.
John was born in Indonesia and came to the United States in 1990 to begin studying at the University of Oklahoma. Before he became known for his exceptional poker skills, he was a bible hawker feared in all around the neighborhood.
Nickname: „Mr. Nice Guy”
Total winnings: $12 015 554
WSOP bracelets: 4
Birth date: 08.07.1971
Hobbies: literature, movies, travelling
Trivia: Thanks to his poker winnings, he paid for his sister’s college. If he ever gets bored of poker, he wants to become a doctor.
David Pham was born in 1967 in Vietnam. He escaped the country at the age of 17. He was the only survivor from the group of refugees that attempted to reach the coast of the United States. He first worked in a laundry owned by his cousin. His cousin, Men “The Master” Nguyen, then taught him to play poker.
Nickname: „The Dragon”
Total winnings: $8 576 978
WSOP bracelets: 2
Birth date: 10.02.1967
Trivia: Men „The Master” Nguyen is his cousin.
Where can you play poker in Asia?
Finding a poker room in China or Vietnam shouldn’t be difficult at all – quite the contrary, in fact. You would have to try really hard not to run into one! The biggest agglomeration of all kinds of casinos and poker rooms is Macau, matching Las Vegas in terms of glamour.
Should you wish to participate in a game of poker in Asia, always remember to follow the dress code, take your ID with you and always abide by the casino rules.