Wanna know a thing or two about the APPT? Welcome! We breakdown the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, a thrilling championship series where skill meets fortune.

The Asia Pacific Poker Tour: A Thriving Championship Series

As an iGaming analyst who’s covered gaming worldwide – what big poker tournaments and events can I easily access locally?

Beyond the Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa casinos, the Asia Pacific Poker Tour has quickly become the marquee series for local players.

With APPT Singapore running for over a decade now, it attracts widespread interest plus satellite qualifiers from across Southeast Asia.

Having attended last year’s record-setting festival myself at the Marina Bay Sands, I’ll highlight everything you need to know about the APPT Singapore stop.

From parking and attendance tips to side events, satellites, and the prestigious main event, I’m breaking down exactly how to experience this world-class tournament weekend on your doorstep as a Singaporean poker enthusiast.

Origins and Historical Evolution of APPT

The Asia Pacific Poker Tour was founded in 2007 as the Asia-based counterpart to the European Poker Tour.

The first-ever APPT event took place August 3-5, 2007 at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino in Manila, Philippines. A field of 405 players put up the buy-in of PHP 55,000 (approx. $1,170 USD at the time) to compete for a purse worth $1.38 million PHP.

Steve Sung took that inaugural APPT Manila main event title along with $353,986 in winnings. Right from these early days, APPT events featured five-figure USD buy-ins and seven-figure prize pools – massive for Asian poker tournaments at the time.

The tour expanded to four total stops in its first season, adding events in Seoul, Macau and Sydney.

Over 12 seasons to date, the APPT has continued growing to feature six annual destinations sponsored by Pokerstars. It now draws thousands of entrants each season from across the Asia-Pacific region as well as globally.

Key tournament stops on recent APPT schedules include:

  • APPT Korea – Paradise City, Incheon
  • APPT Manila – Okada Manila
  • APPT Sydney – The Star Gold Coast
  • APPT Macau – Pokerstars LIVE Macau, City of Dreams
  • APPT Cambodia – Nagaworld Hotel & Entertainment Complex

Landmark moments have included Macau’s Chun Lei Tam winning back-to-back APPT Player of Year titles in Seasons VI and VII. Tam consistently final tabled High Roller events to accumulate over $1.5 million in APPT career earnings.

Kitty Kuo also made history as the first-ever female champion of APPT Macau in 2018. She took down the HK$100,000 buy-in single day High Roller event for HK$3,751,400 (~US$478,500).

Inside the Operations: How APPT Events Come Together

Bringing a thriving tournament series like APPT to fruition requires immense coordination between Pokerstars and live event organizers.

Since 2013, 441 Production Company has worked alongside Pokerstars to manage APPT events across technical operations, marketing, media broadcasts and PR.

441 utilizes its specialty in producing major televised poker productions like the Aussie Millions and World Series of Poker Europe events. For APPT, they take care of all venue logistics, chip runs, equipment and graphics production each festival.

I spoke exclusively with 441 producer Mike Ward about APPT’s expansion over the years:

“With fantastic venues like Paradise City and City of Dreams, along with continued sponsorship from Pokerstars, we’re constantly enhancing the VIP experience for players.

But it’s about more than just the tournament floor – our goal is building exceptional patronage at ACOP festivals as Asia’s premiere poker vacation.”

With 441 dialed into the operational side, the Pokerstars team focuses on boosting APPT’s brand and profile globally.

This includes attracting satellite qualifiers as well as negotiating sponsorships with resort partners across APPT destinations.

Choosing APPT Expansion Sites and the Rise of ACOP in Macau

Pokerstars has expanded the APPT strategic footprint considerably since the initial events in Manila, Seoul, Sydney and Macau. Tournament stops now also include Korea, Cambodia and more.

Factors weighed when adding tour destinations include ease of access for players regionally, strength of local poker ecosystem and presence of major resort/casino partners.

But the true crown jewel each APPT season is the Asia Championship of Poker (ACOP) festival anchored at the City of Dreams in Macau.

ACOP offers the richest tournament schedule including the APPT Main Event and millions more in High Roller events.

Macau’s gaming revenue now nearly triples Las Vegas, fueled by rising wealth across Asia.

City of Dreams itself cost $2.4 billion USD to construct. Its half-million sq. foot casino floor space reflects luxury across VIP tables, slot machines and shopping outlets.

This high roller atmosphere draws recreational Asian businessmen plus globetrotting poker pros to the ACOP festival running December into January each year. As Charles Chua, APPT Vice President, told me:

“Hosting our ACOP event at City of Dreams gives APPT a true homebase. Their world-class hospitality and amenities raise the experience markedly for players and fans compared to regular tour stops.”

Let’s take a closer look at this flagship venue and how to take part in ACOP festivals yourself.

Inside City of Dreams: Home of APPT Macau and ACOP

The sheer scale and grandeur of the City of Dreams integrated resort makes it an ideal location for the Asia Championship of Poker festival each APPT season.

Located on Macau’s Cotai Strip just opposite The Venetian, City of Dreams cost over $2 billion USD to open in 2009.

Gaming remains centerstage at COD with flagship casinos like the Crystal Palace and Soaring Phoenix slot machine parlor. But retail outlets like the Grand Canal Shoppes also give it strong appeal to tourists and families.

COD houses over 1,400 hotel rooms across three hotels – Nüwa, The Countdown and Grand Hyatt Macau.

World-class cuisine abounds across dozens of restaurants offering Asian delicacies along with European, American and fusion dishes. Celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck also host venues onsite.

With this combination of gaming, dining, retail and accommodations, APPT’s ACOP transforms City of Dreams into a poker playground each December.

Both professionals and amateurs soak up the atmosphere across dozens of tournaments with varied buy-ins and formats.

Satellites even run online daily on Pokerstars beginning in late October, allowing players to potentially qualify for just a fraction of main event buy-ins starting in the thousands.

This delivers immense value along with the sheer experience of competing at an elite Asian poker festival hosted by COD.

APPT Satellites – How to Qualify for a Fraction of the Cost

Entering satellites is the most cost-effective way to secure a seat at an upcoming APPT event.

Pokerstars runs weekly and even daily qualifiers as part of many online tournament series. Buy-ins often start around just $5 – a mere fraction of typical APPT buy-ins.

For example, during October and November 2019, there were multiple APPT Manila satellites available:

  • $5 buy-in with 1 seat guaranteed
  • $55 buy-in with 5 seats guaranteed
  • $109 buy-in with 18 seats guaranteed

This shows the range of qualifiers with realistic odds to win a seat. Even grinding up from the micro satellites is viable.

Then upon winning, you’ll join the applicable APPT main event, side event, or High Roller tournament in Manila with all buy-ins covered.

Satellites to the Asia Championship of Poker in Macau often run even bigger guaranteeing dozens of seats.

Consistently playing and final tabling these online events helps offset the high costs to play live tournaments abroad.

Without needing to cover flights or hotels ontop, qualifying digitally for big value makes APPT accessible for more players.

If grinding play money games doesn’t appeal to you, consider rare live satellites when APPT visits major casino regions like Goa, India.

These equal seat events often run alongside APPT Goa infusing extra value. Check the local tournament schedule for affordable live satellites.

While just qualifying won’t make you an instant millionaire, placing highly in a prestigious event seen globally on the live stream can go a long way. Let’s explore everything the full ACOP festival entails.

Asia Championship of Poker: High Roller Poker at its Finest

Each December, the Asia Championship of Poker festival unleashes a full slate of prestigious tournaments at City of Dreams in Macau.

The centerpiece APPT Main Event with its HK$80,000 (~US$10,300) buy-in kicks off the series in style.

Dozens of supporting tournaments like the HK$25,000 Heads-Up event, HK$400,000 Super High Roller and Chinese 8-Game mix up play over two weeks.

There’s also a Ladies Championship event showing the strength of women in Asian poker.

Running alongside is the infamous Macau High Rollers tournament posting seven-figure HKD guarantees. Qualifying from satellites provides immense ROI with these buy-ins from HK$175,000 up past the million dollar mark!

It’s an intense schedule running all day and night to crown each champion before moving to the next showcase event.

As the ACOP winds down, focus shifts to coronating the latest APPT Player of the Year, who earns a $200,000 Pokerstars sponsorship package.

The Player of the Year title recognizes the player accumulating the most points across APPT events in a season.

They receive freerolls plus covered travel/hotel packages to continue competing on the tour. Quantifying consistency, the APOY award has further elevated poker pros’ interest each APPT festival.

Both rising talent and established veterans take part aiming for a career-altering payday. Top recent APOY winners include Australia’s Bryan Huang and Chinese Taipei’s Kitty Kuo, showing the strength of Asia-Pacific players.

Australians Continue Dominating Asia Pacific Poker Tour Leaderboards

While the Asia Pacific Poker Tour lives up to its name with stops across the region, Australian players consistently put up big results each season. Their experience playing high stakes cash games online seems to translate.

Aussies took four of the first five APPT Player of the Year awards between 2007 and 2011.

Grant Levy held the top spot for three consecutive years from 2009 to 2011 – a feat still unmatched. Joining him were fellow Australians Lee Nelson (inaugural 2007 APOY) and Tony Hachem in 2008.

More recently, Australians made up over 20% of the 2018 APPT Player of the Year top 10 leaderboard. This included winner Bryan Huang along with contenders like Michael Addamo, Brendon Rubie, Justin Speakman and Robert Campbell.

With direct flights connecting Australia to most major APPT venues, expect the Aussie contingent to keep battling for titles out of proportion to their population. Their early dominance set the stage for today’s rising young Internet phenoms like Addamo.

Complementing APPT’s Growth Through Emerging Media

While the Asia Pacific Poker Tour has expanded to new destinations and richer tournaments, improving media coverage and technology enhances the experience further.

This modernizes APPT’s feeling as it strives towards global recognition like the European and World Poker Tours.

Pokerstars LIVE programming now streams final tables in 1080p quality with commentary, hole card cams and player interviews between hands. This allows at-home viewers to follow key hands and gain insights from the players themselves.

APPT also shares exclusive player vlogs, podcasts and strategy videos across their YouTube and social media pages. Getting to know top pros off the felt makes their deep runs and championship victories more compelling.

Integrating this digital media presence with the live tournament production continues bringing APPT into the modern poker era. The thrilling action remains at the core but now reaches more fans in an engaging format.

Conclusion: APPT Delivers High Stakes Poker in Asia

From small roots across the Philippines, Korea and Australia in 2007, the Asia Pacific Poker Tour now anchors a thriving competitive poker scene across the region today.

The tour has strategically expanded to new destinations while offering bigger guarantees and more variety each year.

Becoming the Asia-based counterpart to the hugely popular European Poker Tour was APPT’s mission from day one under Pokerstars banner.

With the Asia Championship of Poker festival stationed in glamorous Macau, APPT made its mark as a world-class poker production.

Consistently showcasing six and seven-figure events, it looks to continue growth aligned with the game’s local popularity.

Hopefully this guide gave you some insights into APPT’s history, events, and what makes for such a rich experience on the tournament circuit. Check back soon for more coverage!

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Hao Cheng Cheng is a renowned authority in the online gambling industry, with over a decade of hands-on experience. Holding a Master's in Cryptographic Engineering from Singapore Institute of Technology, he spent years working at Marina Bay Sands, igniting his passion for the intricacies of casino operations and regulations.
For the past 11 years, Hao has dedicated himself to becoming a leading voice in Singapore's online gambling space. His incisive analysis and meticulous research have earned recognition from the Singapore Casino Association, where he serves as an advisory board member.
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