The Macau high stakes poker scene: every poker player wants in, only a few are accepted.
This being the case, poker pros who are lucky enough to play with the Asian whales keep pretty quiet about what goes on in these games. Luckily, we get a small glimpse inside of this world of multi-million dollar pots and unfathomable wealth every now and then. And Macau mainstay Tom Hall recently shared a few secrets of what goes on in these massive poker games.
Known as “Hong Kong Tom,” Hall did an interview with PokerNews that discussed some very interesting topics, including how many players get in on the action, what’s the most won and lost in a session, and if the Macau high stakes action has reached a plateau. That said, let’s take a look at a few of the more interesting questions and answers from Hall’s interview.
PokerNews: If you had to guesstimate, how many players rotate in and out of the Big Game?
Tom Hall: I would guess since we started there has been somewhere between 100-150 players that have played at one point in the game. There is a core of 10-20 that play regularly at some point every month and three to four that play pretty much all the time they are in Macau. The lineup changes all the time, though usually the pros rotate with some frequency and locals – usually junket operators in Macau who hear about the game and like to gamble – frequently pop up for a few sessions.
PN: What is the networking process like? We assume it’s not easy to get into the game.
TH: It all depends. If there are some brand new local players chancing their arm – guys that are very new to the game and relatively inexperienced – there can be a crazy waiting list even amongst the “regulars,” whereas at other times if the core regular group are away on business or playing a high roller tourney somewhere else in the world, pretty much anybody is allowed as the remaining guys just want to play. It is a quasi-private game, so you shouldn’t turn up and expect to be allowed to play, particularly as a pro. Pros are usually introduced through a pro that has played before or through Winfred Yu who organizes the games. Visiting businessmen are usually always accommodated!
PN: What’s the most anyone has ever won in a sessions in the Big Game? What’s the most someone has lost?
TH: I would say approximately the same, around HK$100 million (~USD$12.8 million) won/lost in a single session, bearing in mind these sessions can run 30-40 hours regularly with perhaps a mini food break or quick nap or break to watch a soccer game. What I will say is that without a doubt the single biggest winner in live table poker of all time is one of the big game players who plays the Macau game regularly and some of the other big private games around the Region. This is not one of the established pros but any of the pros that play regularly will know whom it is. Not going to get into quantum or specifics but the Macau game formed the base for some pretty phenomenal winnings (and obviously losses). All of the local regulars usually play their own funds whereas most of the pros are either staked or pieced out to a certain degree. This is probably pretty smart taking into consideration the size of the games and the swings.