LG... Life's Good
Last week was the inaugural Asia Championship of Poker in the casino-haven of Macau. The event was a great success, with heaps of well-known pros flying in to play in the HKD$100,000 Main Event – the largest buy-in Main Event that Asia has ever seen. I’ve been to Macau every year for four years, and this trip was by far my favourite.
The original destination of the APPT was Grand Waldo Casino, located on Taipai Island – which is more of the Las Vegas mirror image than the main island of Macau. They then moved to Grand Lisboa for a few seasons. This year, PokerStars Macau returned to their original home for the launch of ACOP. The huge difference this time around, in comparison to the earlier years, is that an extraordinary complex, known as Galaxy Macau, now towers over Grand Waldo with three luxurious hotels and a plentiful selection of dining, shopping and entertainment. No longer is Grand Waldo a dark and lonely hotel and casino on the outskirts of the Cotai Strip.
I would describe Galaxy as a combination of Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace and Mandalay Bay – thanks to my favourite feature, the manmade beach and wave pool. Angel Guillen and I were lucky enough to stay at Galaxy Hotel, and even had a couple of nights at the incredible Okura Hotel, both thanks to some last minute generous help from one of the kindest people in the world, Bryan Huang. Both hotels are within the Galaxy Macau complex, along with a Banyan Tree – the epitome of luxury. One morning before work began (many thanks to the late starts each day), Angel and I had one of the most incredible experiences at the Banyan Tree Spa. Every second of our time in there was blissful. The staff were so warm and welcoming, the facilities were immaculate and impressively designed, and my facial was beyond amazing. Our treatment began with a foot soak and massage while we sipped on ginger tea and ate fresh fruit in our bamboo-lined room. It was heaven! Too bad I had to go to work immediately afterwards…
So, back to work I went, and I must say we were spoiled with smoke-free space at Grand Waldo, which was a nice change. Here is a quick video tour of the ACOP tournament area:
Within the ginormous space we had, there was a PokerStars Mobile Lounge, where two daily, free-to-enter, iPad SnG’s were being held, and the winner of each nine-handed tournament won an iPad! On top of that, there was also the Zoom Challenge where players had 20,000 in play-money chips to begin, and whoever ran it up the highest within 12 minutes, over the course of the tournament, would win an iPad. That same event will be held at PCA, although that will be more of a high-stakes challenge, as it boasts a $1,000 buy-in!
Donnie Peters challenged me to the iPad SnG, so I simply had to document my feat on video. Whether it turned out a feat for me or not, you’ll have to watch to find out. Hint: I’m not writing this on an iPad!
APPT President, Danny McDonagh, is one of my favourite Tournament Directors in the world. He is always bantering with players, staff, media or anyone in his path. He loves to have a great time and takes the effort to ensure players enjoy their experience to the fullest, both on and off the felt. He’s obviously a brilliant Tournament Director and has the deserving respect of all players in this region. He also doesn’t hold back when it comes to enjoying a party. In fact, none of the PokerStars APPT team do! Robin Lim, the Events Manager, is a magician. I don’t mean in the sense that he puts together unbelievable events (which he can); he’s literally the guy on stage performing magic tricks. So naturally, the party in Macau each year is always one of the best, and this year, the ACOP schedule was specifically worked around it. We finished play on Day 1, the night of the party, at 10pm, and we didn’t begin Day 2 until 5pm! The party was absolutely nuts - it was held at D2 Nighclub and it was Ladies Night. One "feature" about D2 (or perhaps Macau) is that there are countless beautiful women, on display, if you will. They literally wear numbers and you can order your favourite at the bar... It's definitely an eye-opener. Not as bad the "racetrack" that I witnessed last year! Anyway, here's the video of the party, it was pretty awesome.
Team PokerStars Pros Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier and Eugene Katchalov were in town for the event, and it’s no secret that they’ve been pretty serious with their fitness regimes. So much so, that they have their trainer, Lincon Rodriguez travel the world with them. Lincon is such a daredevil, the complete definition of fearless. So he managed to successfully convince ElkY to bungy jump off the top of Macau Tower - the highest bungy jump in the world.
I have no idea how ElkY managed to work up the courage to take that jump, but I must say his “chicken dance” as he was jumping was absolutely hilarious. I’m much happier keeping my feet on the ground, though!
That’s it from me for now; next stop is Auckland, New Zealand this week for the ANZPT!