PokerStars, the biggest online poker website in the world but in general has a much smaller presence in Macau, the biggest gambling hub in the world because the game of poker has only now started gaining a lot more popularity. Macau which is an hour drive by ferry from Hong Kong and Mainland China has some of the most popular casinos in the world but the game of poker has usually taken a backseat as most Asian gamblers prefer to play other games such as baccarat and mini-baccarat.
PokerStars has made changes to its tournament format by launching PokerStars Festivals and PokerStars Championship events this year in an effort to cater to a wide poker playing audience and to also strengthen its presence in new markets. The online poker giant will host its PokerStars Championship in Macau at the City of Dreams Casino from March 30 to April 9. The Championship will run for 11 days and have a total of 52 events with a wide range of buy-ins to enable as many players are possible to participate.
Some of the popular events scheduled include PokerStars Championship Main Event which runs from 3 to 9 and has a buy-in of $5,460; the PokerStars National Championship which takes place from 30 March to 3 April and has a buy-in of $1,130 and guaranteed prize money of $257,500; the PokerStars Asia Open which takes place from 2nd -3rd April and has a buy-in of $710 and guaranteed prize money of $126,500 and the PokerStars Championship High Roller which takes place from 7 to 9 and has a buy-in of $13,250.
Prior to the 2014 anti-corruption crackdown on Macau’s casinos, VIP gamblers were responsible for generating more than 50 percent of all gaming revenue in Macau. The anti-corruption crackdown succeeded in dissolving the VIP market for a couple of years and caused significant losses to all six major gambling operators in Macau. However from August 2016, Macau has witnessed a slow turnaround and it appears that its VIP gambling market is also in the mode of recovery.
Brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein released a report earlier this week estimating that Macau’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) for March would be around 13 to 14 percentage points and attribute the growth to a recovery of Macau’s VIP gambling market. The Macau PokerStars Championship is being held at the right time as the market is responding well and a number of Asian players are expected to be in attendance.
Although some of the buy-ins for the PokerStars Championship in Macau appear to be pretty high, Championship directors are confident that these high-roller events will attract a good number of registrations considering the fact that many believe that Mainland China has the biggest concentration of VIP gamblers. The fact that a number of high profile poker players and members from Team PokerStars will be in attendance is likely to be a big draw for Asian poker players.
Some of the players who are expected to be a part of the PokerStars Championship in Macau include French pro Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event winner Chris Moneymaker, Felipe “Mojave” Ramos, Celina Lin and Andre Akkari.
There are also a number of events with low-buy ins scheduled to enable players with a lower bankroll to also be a part of the PokerStars Championship in Macau. Some of the events with low buy-ins include the PokerStars Cup which runs from 31 March to 3 April and has a buy-in of $425 and the PokerStars Open which runs from 7 to 9 April and has a buy-in of $280.
Macau’s casinos have been forced to diversify their non-gaming activities in the last couple of years and this will give players and those attending the Championship a chance to entertain themselves and have fun. Apart from attending the spectacular shows at the City of Dreams and Studio City, players can also visit the newly opened Wynn Palace (August 2016) and Parisian Macau (September 2016) which are located in the Cotai district.
Once the PokerStars Championship in Macau in completed, the next championship event will take place for the first time along the French Riviera in Monte Carlo. PokerStars is hosting online satellites to enable players to win a Monte Carlo package and qualify.

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