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APT Macau on the rise
The Asian Poker Tour is growing by leaps and bounds.
The main event at the 2009 Asian Poker Tour Macau Festival kicked off Thursday drawing a combined 326 players over two day ones.
"One year ago we projected that we would get 300 runners for the main event so we are delighted with the turnout," APT CEO Chris Parker said. "Especially in the current economic climate. It vindicates our decision to transform The Asian Poker Tour Macau into a 12 day festival."
The HK$34,400 buy-in has helped create a total prize pool of HK$10,919,040 with a HK$3,035,000 top prize.
Last year's main event in Macau, won by American Yevgeniy Timoshenko, drew 257 players.
Outside of the sheer increase in numbers, Parker said the most encouraging sign for the tour is the bump in the number of Asian players in Macau.
"[This] bodes very well for the future," he said. "For example, on Day 1a just over 50% of the field was from Asia."
With online satellites available on a myriad of sites, including bwin poker, PKR, Titan Poker, RedKings Poker, ChiliPoker, and Winamax, the number of online qualifiers has increased significantly as well.
A bevy of big name pros also made the trip to Macau, including Full Tilt's John Juanda, PokerListings blogger Liz Lieu, 2009 November Niner James Akenhead, Team UB's Liv Boeree and APT sponsored Poker Pack members J.C. Tran, Nam Le, Quinn Do, David 'Chino' Rheem, and Steve Sung.
The Poker Pack has had a particularly good showing in preliminary events at the Starworld Hotel and Casino so far.
Sung and Rheem helped Team Korea to a victory in the JBET Battle of the Nations event, Quinn Do won 'The Poker King Movie' Celebrity Charity event, and Rheem was at it again, winning the HKGC No-Limit Hold'em R+A event.
Plus, Tran took down the 'The Poker Pack' headhunter event never giving up the bounty on his head on the way to a HK$76,000 first-place payday and HK$10,500 in bounties of his own.
Day 1b of the APT Macau main event continues Friday. Hong Kong Trader turned high-stakes pro David Stiecke led all comers on Day 1a.