2012 was another big year for PokerStars Macau with plenty of great moments for the Far East's home to the biggest and richest poker tournaments. As we say goodbye to 2012 and look forward to another exciting year of poker in Macau, our panel has compiled the Top 8 moments over the past 12 months.
No. 8: Red Dragon sets new record
The 15th edition of the Macau Poker Cup in February set a new record in Asia with 635 players for the Red Dragon main event. This broke the record previously held by APPT Macau in Season 5, which had drawn 575 runners just three months earlier.
While the Macau Millions - a tournament that allows re-entries - still holds the total entries record with 1,329 from the April 2011 event, the Red Dragon stands as the largest tournament measured by unique players.
No. 7: PokerStars Macau successfully launches the ACOP
Poker has been rapidly growing in popularity throughout Asia over the last five years but the one thing still missing was a USD $10K event. Enter PokerStars Macau, which decided to launch the Asia Championship of Poker which features a HKD $100,000 (USD $13,000) buy-in Main Event.
The ACOP was an official APPT Event and attracted the likes of Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, John Juanda, Oliver Speidel and ElkY along with nine other Team PokerStars Pros.
Through the 17-day schedule, the series drew a total of 2,757 players and awarded more than HKD $46.2M (US $5.9M) in prize money - both of which marked new highs for the APPT.
No. 6: Jonathan Karamalikis leads Team Australia to victory in ACOP 1M Challenge
The buzz was building all year leading up to the inaugural ACOP and Hong Kong businessman Nick Wong - known in the poker world for his domination in High Roller events - decided to add a little more fun by offering a HKD $1,000,000 (USD $130,000) prop bet.
The challenge would pit Wong's team of 6 Hong Kong players against another team (or teams) in a winner-takes-all format which would be determined by the group who accumulated the most Asia Player of the Year points through eight predetermined ACOP tournaments.
Jono, also known by his online handle 'xMONSTERxDONGx', accepted the challenge and the Aussies beat Team Hong Kong by an overwhelming score of 2,620 to 300.
In the process, Karamalikis won the HKD $250,000 (USD $32,000) High Rollers event for a nice payday of HKD $3.7M (USD $478,000) that clinched his team's victory for another HKD $2M.
No. 5: Raymond Wu wins first-ever ACOP title event
The ACOP had an interesting format by setting two tiers for each of their poker variations on the schedule: small buy-ins and then larger buy-ins at USD $1K known as the ACOP Title Events - which will be the measuring stick for historical purposes.
Team PokerStars Pro Raymond Wu officially became a future trivia question as after he beat the 192-player field to capture the opening Deepstack Championship event. His silver spade trophy gets added to a mantle that already includes wins from the Red Dragon (2010 Macau Poker Cup) and World Cup of Poker (2010 PCA).
No. 4: China sweeps the Major Main Events
The name PokerStars attracts players from all over the globe and it wasn't long ago that the foreigners would visit the Macau enclave and regularly wipe out the local bankrolls.
If that past was the Yin, then 2012 was the Yang as China captured all four major tournaments which were awarded to Chinese players Nicky Jin (February Macau Poker Cup), Celina Lin (June Macau Poker Cup), Rui Chen (Macau Poker Cup Championship), and Xing Zhou (ACOP).
No. 3: Yosuke Sekiya named 2012 Asia Player of Year
While Chinese players were making headlines for their respective victories, it would be Japan's Yosuke Sekiya who would claim the APOY award which came with a one-year sponsorship via PokerStars Macau.
Sekiya didn't win a major tournament but topped the field by good old fashioned hard work and consistency. He made a season-tying 6 final tables, won 1 side event and earned just over HKD $1,000,000.
It was a tight race as Sekiya's 4,191 points was only 400 points better than No. 2-ranked Nicky Jin and 150 of those points didn't come until the very last Official Asia Player of the Year event of the season.
"At the end, I somehow pulled it off. Truthfully, I was relieved (that I held the lead and won)." said Sekiya through an interpreter. "I like and respect Team PokerStars Pro Bryan (Huang) so I am really happy to add my name to his on the APOY trophy."
No. 2: Jeff Rossiter wins ACOP Player of the Year
OK, so there isn't really a Player of the Year award for the ACOP but if there were it would clear go to Jeff Rossiter who had one of those runs poker players can only dream of.
It started with winning the ACOP Warm-up event after the Aussie beat the 358-player field - a side event record in Asia - and made easy work out of a tough final table that included Johnny Chan and Joseph Cheong. Seven days later, Rossiter had a runner-up finish in the High Roller Event.
In that one week, Rossiter won just over HKD $4M (USD $513,000) making him the new All-time Earnings leader with over HKD $5.3M in Official Asia Player of the Year Events. Team PokerStars' Randy Lew slides to No. 2 at HKD $3.77M.
No. 1: Celina Lin wins unprecedented second Red Dragon title
The Asian poker scene is barely six years old but Celina Lin has become an early candidate for future 'legend' status and not just under the 'best female' category either.
The 30-year old Team PokerStars Pro became the first player - male or female - to win two major titles on the Asian poker circuit this past June as she won her second Red Dragon main event after beating the 391-player field.
Lin's name has become synonymous with the Macau Poker Cup as she has cashed in 26 of the series' events which includes main event results of 1st place (2009, 2012), 2nd place (2008), and 13th place (2011).
The model of consistency, Lin now holds the All-time record for Final Tables with 18 in Official Asia Player of the Year events and sits at No. 2 for All-time APOY points at 8,708 - Shaq Lin (unrelated) is No. 1 with 9,806.
You can catch Celina Lin next at the Macau Poker Cup from January 11-20, 2013 hosted by PokerStars Macau at the Grand Waldo Entertainment Complex. Satellites are running now at PokerStars.com