It marked the first time that the Asia Pacific Poker Tour had staged an event in mainland China, hosted by the Beijing Star Poker Club and, well, it certainly arrived with aplomb.
PokerStars recently co-sponsored a tournament series in Beijing, the capital of China. The 2014 Beijing Millions was the first major tournament series to be held in mainland China. Poker tournaments have been held before in Sanya, an island off the southern tip of the country, which is kind of like the Hawaii of China, but never on the mainland.It proved to be a huge success and the largest tournament ever held outside the US. Chen Qin, from China, beat out a field of 2,732 players for the ¥675,000 (approx. $109,382) first prize.
PokerStars is very keen on growing poker in China. Some of you may recall the heat mapPokerStars put out during the 100 Billionth Hand Celebration that illustrated the worldwide development of the game. After 2008, countries in Europe and North America start turning blue, representing slower growth, but several regions turned red, indicating major growth. South America and Russia were among them, but the country that glowed the brightest shade of red was China. A few years ago, when Macau was just starting to boom, we didn't really see too many Chinese players there. But nowadays, especially in the past six months or so, we're seeing groups of people from different Chinese cities and provinces come out to play the Macau tournaments and the numbers are off the charts. The last two years, Chinese players won the APPT Macau and a Chinese amateur won the Asia Player of the Year race in 2013.
Not only are Chinese players flocking to Macau, but this year, a whole group of Chinese players traveled to Las Vegas with the hope that one of them would a bracelet home and set off China's version of the Moneymaker effect. I think the Beijing Millions is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to growing poker in China and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.
Raymond Wu is a member of Team PokerStars Pro