World Series of Poker Europe APPT Season Two Preview With APPT President Jeffrey Haas APPT Season Two Preview With APPT President Jeffrey Haas 0001

Always looking to expand the game of poker and conquer new lands, PokerStars last year launched their Asia Pacific Poker Tour in Manila. 255 players saddled up to play in the Philippines, with Stars qualifier Brett Parise winning the event, and taking down the nearly $180,000 first prize.

Just over a year later to the day, players will take their seats late next week in Macau for the launch of APPT, Season 2. APPT Season 2 kicks off in Macau with a (approximate) $3,200 USD buy in No Limit Hold Em Championship event ($25,000 Hong Kong Dollars). The Main Event will run from September 1st through September 6th, with the "high roller" event (buy-in $150,000 HKD/$19,250USD) running September 7th - 9th. Both events will be televised into millions of homes in the region. Tournament organizers are anticipating a record breaking number for Asia, both in players participating, and prize pool.

Over 20 winners of major events from around the world are scheduled to appear. At press time, some of those names include Joe Hachem, Johnny Chan, Barry Greenstein, Scotty Nguyen, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Lee Nelson, Isabelle Mercier, defending champ Dinh Le, Mike "Timex" McDonald, last years APPT Grand Final champ Grant Levy, Men 'The Master' Nguyen, Mel Judah, Harry Demetriou, and many others.

Tomorrow is a big day for qualifying at PokerStars for this event. The flurry of last minute qualifiers includes a 20 seat guarantee tournament tomorrow, Saturday August 23rd at 8:00pm U.S. Eastern Time. With tomorrow being the last day to qualify, we thought today would be a good day to catch up with APPT President Jeffrey Haas.

PokerNews: Jeffrey – Thanks for sitting down with us. I think most in the industry would consider season 1 of the APPT a success. What are you looking for with the upcoming season two?

Jeffrey Haas: In season two we're hoping to see the trees we planted during season one start to bear fruit, meaning greater domestic and regional player participation in our events. We approached our first year with a strong "Poker Tourism" focus because the poker market in many Asian countries is nascent with lots of potential, but not strong enough to support a world-class poker event without many international players also participating. So we concentrated our marketing on bringing players from Europe, Australia and North America to Asia for both poker and tourism, while also working to raise awareness of 'The Sport of Tournament Poker' and its economic benefits to jurisdictions, governments, regulators and venues.

The goal in season one was for the Asia Pacific Poker Tour and PokerStars to work together as catalysts for change in the Asian gaming market, introducing a new game - no-limit texas hold'em poker - and developing new players, in order to build up Asia as the future for the game. But we also had to make the industry here believe in poker, to convince the regulators and venues that tournaments in Asia would: a) firstly, not be embarrassing; and b) be successful. I think we did that, and the results have been an explosion of poker culture. We're now seeing home games and pub poker leagues in many countries, as well as incredibly vibrant poker rooms opening and thriving in Macau and Manila.

Now the real test is to see whether all that work pays off, and whether or not we see significantly larger groups of Asians playing in our events.

Right now we're expecting very good numbers, particularly from the Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore.

PN: Any goals for season two - be they attendance, logistics, player experience based?

Haas: I'd like to see all events grow at least 30% Year over Year by both prize pools and player numbers, but I think that will vary from venue-to-venue.

Our Macau and Sydney events will experience significant growth (50%-100%) and our Seoul event will probably remain at nearly the same level. The New Zealand event, however, will be massive! We expect our first event at SKYCITY Casino in Auckland to sell-out at 360 players with the first poker tournament to ever have more than a $1,000,000 NZD prize pool in that country.

As for player experiences, I look forward to hearing more stories from players about Soju in Seoul, Karaoke in Macau, fine-looking women in Sydney and the hospitality in Manila. I also look forward to drinking Paul Khoury under the table in Auckland. {Editor's note: Khoury is a former PokerNews host that now hosts the official APPT TV show}

PN: What are some of the challenges unique to putting on a poker
tournament series in Asia?

Haas: Think of the most difficult things you've ever done for work, then having to do them amid a lattice of the most complex social relationships you've ever imagined, while also learning about business and cultural practices across many countries, while eating the most exotic foods you've ever imagines (i.e. Balut) with glee, and then trying to stay focused and reasonably intelligent while drinking soju, singing karaoke and explaining through an interpreter why forced minimum bets are called blinds.

PN: You travel more than anyone I know. Are there one or two places in particular in Asia that stand out right now as far as the emergence of poker?

Haas: Today we're seeing real money poker explode in Manila and Macau.

In Manila that's because PAGCOR (the government gaming regulator) is a strong proponent of poker culture and encouraging the opening of many new poker rooms across the country, with a focus in Manila. As well, the PokerStars Filipino Poker Tour will shortly have its fifth event of its seven-event first season, and that's causing a number of local heros to emerge, such as Franco Mabanta and Neil Arce (both of whom will also be playing at the Macau APPT).

PN: You have big shoes to fill with the success of the European Poker Tour. Any pressure in your mind, or can you even compare the two?

Haas: John Duthie and PokerStars' European marketing team have done an extraordinary job of growing the EPT into the dominant poker tour in the region, and matching or exceeding it is a clear and daunting challenge.

While they had the benefit of growing a tour in an environment which already had a strong poker culture in the UK, France and some other countries, we are starting without any foundation - which is why poker tourism is so important to the APPT. That being said, I do think we'll grow more from our first to second season than they did in 2004, and I'm optimistic about achieving the same growth that they have had over five years (particularly because poker is going to be thriving in Asia by 2011).

PN: PokerStars has the EPT, the APPT, and now the LAPT - can the
Antarctic Poker Tour be far behind?

Haas: There are no plans for anything in Antarctic that I know of, but in my spare time I'm currently working with NASA, the China National Space Administration, the Russian Federal Space Agency and the European Space Agency to create "The Battle of the Planet", a $10M buy-in Head's Up tournament on the International Space Station. I don't know when that will happen, however, as determining regulatory jurisdiction for gaming and taxation is proving to be more difficult than getting the APPT started. I'll keep you guys posted.

PN: Ha. Thanks for the time, Jeffrey

Editors Note: Don't miss your last chance to qualify for the APPT Season 2 opener in Macau at PokerStars

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