WSOP APAC – The World Series of Poker’s Asian Pacific Championship in Australia

Heads-up action at the WSOP APAC Main Event

Heads-up action at the WSOP APAC Main Event

By Steve Beauregard

The World Series of Poker Asian Pacific Championship (WSOP APAC) is an official WSOP bracelet event that is one of the big three WSOP tournaments – the others being the WSOP in Las Vegas of course, and the WSOP Europe.

The WSOP APAC was started in 2013 as a result of both the growing popularity of poker in this populous region, as well as from the great success of the WSOP’s first foray outside the United States – the WSOP Europe, which has only grown in stature since its inaugural event in 2007.

The series was held in Melbourne, Australia, at the Crown Entertainment Complex. Although numbers weren’t anywhere close to what was seen at the WSOP in Las Vegas, the 2013 WSOP APAC was considered a success, as the rookie tournament drew in over 1,000 runners for its first event, and 405 for its $10,000 buy-in Main Event.

Overall, the tournament had just 5 bracelet events, along with a $50K Higher Roller and a team style tournament called the Caesars Cup.

In addition, the tournament was noteworthy for having pokers’ biggest names take down two of the five events.

Phil Ivey took home a mixed event for his 9th bracelet, while Daniel Negreanu won the inaugural WSOP ASAC Main Event for his 5th bracelet.

(Footage of the final hand of the 2014 WSOP APAC Main Event)

WSOP APAC 2014

The second ever version, the 2014 WSOP Asia Pacific tournament was held October 2nd and 18th, 2014, once again at the spacious Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia.

The 2014 version of the tournament would award 10 WSOP bracelets, as opposed to just five the year before. The ten bracelets mark the highest number of bracelets awarded outside of the Las Vegas event. Numbers per tournament, however were down.

Because of this, it has been widely assumed in the poker community (through poker blogs, forums and podcasts), that a fair number of established professional poker players made the long journey to Melbourne in order to bracelet hunt. With ten bracelets given away, high-buy tournaments and very small fields, the WSOP APAC 2014 represented one of the easiest paths for a pro to pick up some more of the elusive and prestigious hardware.

In event number 8, for example, only 48 players put up the $5,000 in Australian dollars to play the Mixed Event 8-game Mix. Forty-eight players in a WSOP tournament is unheard of, unless it’s for the One Drop, which has a one million dollar entry fee.

Numbers in other events were down from the first year’s tournament as well. Event number 1, for example, the $1,100 buy-in No-Limit Tournament saw 611 entrants, down from over a thousand the year before. The Main Event’s figures were down as well, from to 405 in 2013, to 329 players in 2014.

The big story of this series was the exciting, down-to-the-wire race for WSOP Player of the Year battle between German George Danzer and Chicagoan Brandon Shack-Harris. The lead for WSOP Player of the Year kept going back and forth. Danzer’s WSOP APAC win in event #8 seemed to seal the deal, but Shack-Harris’s deep run in the APAC Main Event, where he’d finish 17th, made it an exciting and close race.

The other headline was Jeff Lisandro’s win in event #3, the $1,650 Pot-Limit Omaha tournament. The native Australian outlasted 122 other players to capture his 6th WSOP bracelet.

Other notable tidbits from the 2014 WSOP APAC: Phil Hellmuth made his 51st WSOP final table, 2010 WSOP Main Event Winner Jonathan Duhamel made it to three final tables, (not bad considering there were just 10 events), finishing third twice, and once in fourth place.

In the Au $10,000 Main Event, Canadian Scott Davies, a regular on the WSOP Circuit tournament, took home the bracelet and AU$850,136.

In the $AU 25,000 high roller tournament (down from 2013’s $50K entry fee), Canadian Mike Leah beat out 67 other runners for his first WSOP bracelet and $600 in prize money.

WSOP APAC Going Forward

In 2013, World Series of Poker officials announced that going forward, the WSOP Europe would not be held every year (despite its overwhelming success), and that instead, the “other” big WSOP event held outside of Las Vegas would rotate each year between Australia and Europe. So in other words, the WSOP APAC would be held in 2014 (and all even years), while the WSOP Europe would be held in 2015 and all years ending in an odd number.

However, low turnout numbers for the 2014 WSOP event in Australia has led to speculation that Caesars will either:

(A) Move the WSOP APAC to a different location, possibly the poker hotbed of Macau, or

(B) Reinstitute the popular WSOP Europe as a yearly event.