WSOP APAC cash games and heading back to Macau

By: Daniel Laidlaw

I fly out for APPT Cebu today after a welcome two week break from live poker. It’s been a career-best start to the year that has included the Aussie Millions, six weeks of cash games in Macau, a trip to EPT London, and the inaugural WSOP APAC in Melbourne.

Being officially based in Macau this year (as an Australian citizen, you can only stay for two months out of every three), I feel like I’ve now fully transitioned into a “lol live pro” and have reached a comfortable balance between cash, tourneys and travel.

At the start of the year I made a decision to manage my bankroll a little more aggressively, mostly with staking commitments, but also with a preparedness to sit in some decent bigger games in an attempt to “run it up” in a sensible way. It remains to be seen how it goes, but so far I’ve dipped my toe in the water at 1k/2k (HKD) NL, the biggest game I’ve ever played in (lost, obviously), and also $100/$100 PLO for the first time during WSOP APAC.

For whatever reason, playing in foreign currency feels like play money, so with bigger games always on offer in Macau, there’s more incentive to play higher than anywhere else and it’s hard to hold yourself back from shot-taking. Having said that, my main game lately has been 200/500 PLO and I expect that to continue.

February was my best month ever - finally running good at cash in Macau after struggling last year - while EPT London was a breakeven trip, the highlight of which was finishing second in a 2k turbo bounty side event for ~14k GBP at the boutique Hippodrome casino in Leicester Square.

No one really knew what to expect from the WSOP but judging by the numbers you’d imagine the organisers considered it a success. On paper I thought the structure of the opening event was poor, with a lot of short stacked no ante play, but after playing it I changed my mind. Because of the shallower stacks I thought a number of players didn’t have sufficient regard for the value of their chips, treating it like a turbo instead of the well-structured event it actually was. I’d like to see Crown change all their 1k events to this structure, e.g. the opening event of the Aussie Millions (the accumulator format is neither here nor there).

The story of the high stakes cash games for me was not the games themselves (amazing as always), but the way they were overseen by Crown. The $100/$100 PLO proved to be a cliquey pseudo-private game, which meant that unless you were an in-group member, you would struggle to get a seat.

What happened during the series was that the game would begin“privately”, before the list was opened up to everyone. Obviously, if a specific group of people want to play exclusively with each other, that’s fine. However, in practice the game was only run this way so the local in-group members could monopolise the fish every day (in these games, no one really quits).

Various shenanigans took place to further prevent outsiders from getting a seat, including playing over and seat buying. For example, a player would “play over” a friend’s stack (not officially allowed by Crown) while they went on “break”, only to mysteriously move into that seat ahead of others on the list when their friend quit the game.

None of it was especially malicious - standard self-interested behaviour with a lot of money at stake - but it’s ludicrous that Crown allowed it to happen. With a bunch of international regs in town specifically to play high stakes PLO, it’s a bad image for the poker room to have the biggest game run along political lines (the non-recreational outsiders being the targets of the exclusion policy), as well as just bad practice.

It could have been prevented by having a poker room manager in control of the high stakes area, but I never got the impression that anyone was really in charge or cared very much. If Crown aspires to be the poker room of the Asia Pacific region then it needs to have someone in control of overseeing both games and lists (the list system was also shambolic, with no communication between the desk and floor managers). At least it’s given me a greater appreciation for Wynn Macau, run well by the fair-minded American Ryan Beauregard.

My schedule for the next couple of months includes Cebu, more cash games in Macau, and the recently announced APPT Macau in mid-June.

Good luck in your games.

Follow Daniel on Twitter @Choparno