WSOP APAC: The good, the bad and the ugly

By: Heath "TassieDevil" Chick

The WSOP APAC has been run and won, and what a tremendous series it was. The World Series of Poker brought a hype and prestige that has rarely been matched in this country. There’s plenty I could talk about, so I thought I’d share some quick thoughts under the headings of what was “good”, what was “bad” and what turned out to be a tad “ugly” at the World Series of Poker Asia Pacific.

The Good

There was lots of good, and it certainly outweighed any bad, but my highlights were:

Aussie young guns prove their class on world stage

I’ve long thought Australia has some of the best young players in the world, and I feel that we proved that at the WSOP APAC with the cream rising to the top. Jonathan Karamalikis, Andy Lee, Brendon Rubie and of course WSOP APAC bracelet winner Aaron Lim are some of the finest young players in the country showing consistent results in Australia and Asia over several years. It was great to see they proved their talents greatest stage in the poker world against very tough opposition. More gold is coming this way in future if these guys have any say in it.

- Ivey and Negreanu win gold

The greatest result that the WSOP APAC could hope for was realised when Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu both won bracelets. They gave the series international exposure and credibility, which will no doubt help the series in future years.

Main Event final table will make great TV

I’ve watched a lot of final tables over the years, and this one was right towards the top in so many ways.

o   There was a great dynamic with plenty of fun banter and table talk
o   The quality of play was mostly very good, with several really impressive bluffs
o   There were some epically brutal suckouts
o   Daniel Negreanu won

When you combine all of these factors together, it will make for a brilliant television product. It’s been a long time since I got excited about poker on TV, but this is one that I’m now actually looking forward to watching. I really hope they give it plenty of TV time ahead of the Caesars Cup (lol). More on that later.


Ok, so I’m a little biased but I was really proud of the job that the Poker Asia Pacific live reporting team did providing the official updates for PokerListings and WSOP. I also have to say that it was refreshing to work with PokerListings who bring a relaxed professionalism to what they do. They are prepared to think outside the box and their videos were of exceptional quality.

The Bad

Schedule improvements

It’s a little harsh but some of the scheduling needs to be looked at for next year. The mixed event should have been $5,000 and it would have attracted the same field at double the prize pool.  The Pot Limit Omaha event could also be bumped to $2,200. There was also some concerns from some about the 6-Max final table overlapping with the Main Event, although that ended up proving to be hardly an issue with the 6-Max FT wrapping up pretty early.

- People who question the integrity of WSOP APAC bracelets

It’s really disappointing to hear people question the validity of WSOP bracelets won here or outside of Vegas. There should be no doubts or question marks over them. These things are real. For once I agree with one of Daniel Negreanu’s rants – if the WSOP says it’s a bracelet event, then it’s a bracelet event!

We observed one table that had over $36 million in career earnings. We saw another that had 28 WSOP bracelets (plus Chad Brown!). Incredible numbers. Many players said these were the toughest tables they’d ever played on. How you can question these events as legitimate bracelet events, yet accept Doyle Brunson beating 22 players to win the 1976 Main Event, or Johnny Moss being handed the first WSOP bracelet by a vote? Get real!

The Ugly

Caesars Cup farce

Shane Warne and Jackie GlazierThere was a lot I disliked about this event. I understand the desire to have a TV product with the poker “stars” on it, but is the WSOP the right place for this? Especially when Negreanu and Ivey both won events, so there should already be enough air time for them?

Firstly there was plenty of contention over the selection of the Asia-Pacific team. Shane Warne (pictured high-fiving Jackie Glazier) got a start, largely due to profile and sponsorship, while Andy Hinrichsen was picked but never even got to play? How are we expected to take it seriously when the best players aren't picked?

But to the event itself, it seemed like a total farce. The format was convoluted as it’s really hard to get a team format right in an individual game.  And the structure was, well, I don’t know, ten big blinds each or something? We don’t know since the media was restricted from the final table and the live feed was down.  The fact that our live reporting team managed to get any info out was a miracle.

It was all over in about three hours, but TV production delays and the fact that Antonio Esfandiari and Daniel Negreanu were still in the Main Event, meant that the Main Event also got delayed because of this event.  It was just a waste of time, and I hope that not too much TV time is wasted on this when it could be used for the "real poker" on the brilliant Main Event final table.

Final table set

The Melbourne poker public are craving the chance to watch these final tables live and in the flesh. Why do we have to film them in a studio set that is smaller than my bedroom where no one can come in and watch?  If there’s one thing Sydney did right over the years, it was setup their final tables in the sports bar stadium where anyone could come and rail. It created a fantastic atmosphere and exposure poker to the public.

Poker is meant to be a fun game where the fans can cheer and get a little messy. Why do we continually have these closed, stale final table sets in Melbourne? Move it back to Studio 3, or better yet, at the Palms or some other venue that has audience seating. Create a buzz. Build some atmosphere. Let the people cheer! It’s an investment for future events as these people watching might just play next year. These are the biggest final tables in Australia, so let’s treat them as such, rather than hiding them in a closed TV set.

Negreanu’s temper

Daniel NegreanuDaniel Negreanu brings a lot of positivity to the poker world, so it was disappointing to see him lose his temper and knee the table in frustration when he copped a bad beat on the final table. Sure, the bracelet meant a lot to him, but George Tsatsis didn’t lose his cool when Negreanu spiked a two-outer river to bust the Aussie from the tournament? The $140,000 pay jump between 4th and 3rd would’ve meant a lot to Tsatsis. Possibly life-changing money in fact. In comparison, I’d say life is pretty good for Negreanu. He doesn’t need the money. For him to let his emotions get the better of him, felt a lot like a spoilt child chucking a tantrum. It was the one ugly moment of an otherwise great final table.


Do you agree with Heath's thoughts? What were your good, bad and ugly moments from the WSOP APAC? Share your comments below.


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