As the Asian Poker Tour prepares to make its second stop in the Chinese territory of Macau at the Galaxy StarWorld Hotel and Casino, APT officials are once again extending an invitation to Olympic champion Michael Phelps and pushing Phelps to bring President Obama to join the tournament.
Phelps, who won eight gold medals at last year’s Olympic games and who recently won five gold medals at this year’s World Championships in Rome, has previously spoken about his fascination with the game of poker. This has led him to trips to Las Vegas where he has met the legendary Doyle Brunson, cashed in a tournament at Caesars Palace (2008 Caesars Poker Classic) and enjoyed the attention of other professionals from the poker world. It also led to invitations to other tournaments, which Phelps has not accepted so far.
The Asian Poker Tour, one of those who issued Phelps an invitation last year and was rebuffed, is ready to try again. In an open letter to the Olympian, APT officials state, “Last year, you were in Beijing for the Olympics and we encouraged you to head down to the Asian Poker Tour Macau event at the StarWorld. We heard positive noises, but there was no sign of the human dolphin when they called ‘shuffle up and deal.’ We would like to extend this invite once again to you to come, all expenses paid, and take part in this showpiece poker event. The Main Event is in Macau between the 20 – 23rd August but the 12 day festival of poker starts on August 12th so let us know!”
In asking Phelps to the tournament once again, the Asian Poker Tour also wants to know if he will bring a friend to the festivities. As one of the closing statements of the ‘open letter’ to Phelps, APT officials suggest, “…you could ask a certain poker playing President by the name of Barack Hussein Obama II if he fancies joining you!” At this time, there is no comment from the Phelps camp; since the photograph of Phelps hitting a marijuana bong surfaced early this year, Phelps’ handlers have attempted to keep him out of possibly compromising situations.
Even if Phelps doesn’t show, the Asian Poker Tour Festival Macau promises to be even bigger than last year. Expanded from six days in 2008 to twelve days this year (August 12th through the 23rd), the festival offers fifteen official side tournaments in addition to the Main Event, a $34,400 Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) No Limit Hold’em tournament. Although the official events bring a great deal of action, there are other high stakes cash games that fall outside the realm of the tournament schedule which should be well attended.
The Main Event should draw excellent professional players, such as defending champion Yevgeniy Timoshenko, former World Champion Johnny Chan and the APT’s “Poker Pack” of J. C. Tran, Nam Le, Steve Sung, Quinn Do, David ‘Chino’ Rheem and Kwang Soo Lee. It will also feature the best from the online world as such networks and sites as the Ongame Network, the iPoker Network, and have been running satellites and will send their champions to the event.
Other than the poker, the Asian Poker Tour Festival Macau will also be the backdrop for a Chinese poker movie. Tentatively called “Poker King”, the movie will focus on the battle between two poker champions and fierce enemies as they battle for the world championship. The movie will be filmed as the APT Festival Macau plays out and should be in theaters later this year.

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