The game of poker has been a part of the competitive card world for well over a couple of centuries. From the riverboats and bars of the Wild West of the past to today's world of luxurious casinos and multi-tabled card rooms around the world, poker has certainly transfixed most of the planet. Whether it is the United States, Europe or even Latin and South America, poker in the 21st century has exploded. Even with this said, there is a "final frontier" that will be actively courted in the coming year and the potential for another expansion of poker, bringing potentially tens of millions to the game.
That "final frontier" is the continent of Asia. With a billion people in China, another billion in India and potentially another billion spread across the rest of the continent, it is an untapped market (either through governmental or traditional forces) that is only now being examined by many to be the final part of the equation to poker's dominance as a worldwide phenomenon. Recent activities show that Asia should be well immersed in the terms of "redraw", "the nuts" and "pocket rockets" come this time in 2007.
Online companies have long salivated at the potential of entering into the Asian arenas (especially China), but have long been thwarted by governmental controls on the Internet or traditional views of gambling. India has traditionally looked at gaming as a less than desirable pursuit (although they have six casinos in the country) and China, with its hosting of the Olympic Games in 2008 and a more moderate government, has also relaxed some of their longstanding obstacles when it comes to the Internet. With these actions, the rest of the gaming world seems to be coming along and ready to bring Asia into the poker world.
Hotel and casino maestro Steve Wynn is ready to bring his glitzy and glamorous style to the Asian market. The Wynn Macau opened on September 5th and brings the luxury of Las Vegas to the Asian continent with its 600 room hotel and casino, which certainly includes the gaming and poker that many around the world have come to expect from previous Wynn properties. The twenty story hotel is designed to look like the Wynn Las Vegas and further expansion plans for more table games are on the way.
Television has brought tournament poker in the Asian market as well. The World Poker Tour recently licensed stations in Macau and Singapore to broadcast the first season of the WPT to viewers in Asia, but the continent is getting ready to have many high profile poker tournaments of their own. The PanAsia Poker Tour recently announced that they will debut in November with their first ever sanctioned tournament in Manila, the Philippines.
The event, called the PAPT Philippine Open, will take place from November 3-5 at the Airport Casino Filipino and has a $2500 No Limit Texas Hold 'Em tournament as their crowning event. The tournament, sanctioned as well by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), is expected to draw top name celebrity and professional poker players vying for the championship of the event. Plans are in place for this tournament to be taped for future television broadcast in Asia and shows that there is a desire by viewers on the Asian continent to see the game played on their own continent.
The PanAsia Poker Tour isn't stopping with this one event, however. Plans are in place for a ten stop tour schedule in 2007 that will tour the continent. Stops are planned for Macau, the Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. If successful, this could potentially add millions of poker players into the poker community.
The country of India is also a part of the Asian package and in many ways reflects some of the thoughts of the Asian world. Gambling and casinos in Indian society are generally frowned upon (although many would like to see changes in that) and online poker sites, while not banned, have difficulty making inroads into the country despite having parts of their operations there (PartyPoker has 900 employees in the country and pays taxes there as well as in their home base of Gibraltar). India, though, will be showing off their poker desires when the first ever poker tournament takes place in the country during 2007.
The Asian Poker Classic, with a million dollar guaranteed purse, will take place on March 1-3, 2007 at Intercontinental, The Grand Resort Goa. Over two hundred players are expected to take part in the tournament and, with a $7500 buy in, could draw some of the best poker players in the world and many celebrities to take part in the event. The Asian Poker Classic is even relying on that old stalwart, the online poker satellite, to draw more players into the event through online poker site (and tournament sponsor) Maharajah Club.
Perhaps the best signal about this tournament is in its leadership. The tournament director will be Thomas Kremser, the highly respected leader of the European Poker Tour. "There's been nothing like this before in India," he confidently stated, "and it's going to be absolutely amazing. With the stunning beauty of Goa, superb hotel and the totally unique nature of the tournament itself as a back drop, this will be the poker tournament of the year!"
Poker players of Asian nationality have long been a part of the history of the game. From Johnny Chan to Men "The Master" Nguyen to Can Kim Hua, Asian players have made their mark on the game and the Asian influence continues to be felt in any tournament that occurs nowadays. With the final growth of the game into the Asian continent, could we perhaps be expanding the poker world by millions more and see the birth of our next great generation of Asian poker champions?
For more information on the growth of Asian poker and the new poker tournaments and tours, visit panasiapokertour.com
Ed Note: Pokerroom.com is going to have a $5 Million Prize Pool tournament soon. Check it out.