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Author Topic: Hong Kong Poker House  (Read 6910 times)

PepeSmith

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Hong Kong Poker House
« on: January 26, 2009, 01:24:17 PM »
Apparently founded by some pros like Phil Laak, Joe Hachem etc...

Check the website

*taken down by owner*
« Last Edit: August 23, 2013, 01:45:27 PM by PepeSmith »



welcoat

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2009, 02:16:54 AM »
Greetings from the HONG KONG POKER HOUSE!
Regular cash games nightly 10-20, 25-50 and upwards.  Minimum buy-in is HK$500 but the fantastic news is NO RAKE!  One time membership fee is HK$500 and you can play poker nitely never paying any rake.  FOOD AND DRINKS ARE NOT FREE THOUGH(minimum consumable HK$250)!
no alcohol served (not liquor license yet), players may bring their own alchoholic drinks (ONLY) as long as it comes with receipts (from nearbly 7-11).

Good news is one of the owners (not Phil Laak nor Joe Hachem though) is a friend and he is willing to offer PM members ONE time free entrance as a GUEST MEMBER if you want to play on your first visit (STILL NEED TO MEET CONSUMABLE REQUIREMENT).  It is at 1st Floor, 49 Hollywood Road Central Hong Kong.  Just 5 minute walk from the famous bar streets D'Aguilar and Lan Kwai Fong.
*link taken down by owner*

I am now actually on the 2nd floor, soon to be opened new place called BankRoll.  It is a poker bar/restaurant with 5 tables.  There will be regular tournaments and cash games (as low as HK$1-2 blinds, no rake).  The entry is HK$250 includes 2 drinks and Japanese sushi, no membership required. ALCOHOL drinks being served.

Now I understand why HK grinders don't need to go to Macau if it is only POKER they desire!



NOTE:Starting July 1, 2009 ALL indoor areas of bars, clubs, nightclubs, bathhouses, massage establishments and mahjong-tin kau shall be no smoking by authority of HK Tobacco Control Office.
http://www.tco.gov.hk/english/legislation/legislation_dsb.html
« Last Edit: August 23, 2013, 01:46:16 PM by PepeSmith »
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. "-Albert Einstein
Poker is a game of SKILL with elements of short-term LUCK.  Skill and discipline determine winning cash players, but GOD decides who shall be Tournament Champion.


mcarlos

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2009, 12:27:41 PM »
Wifey was there three months ago... sayang di ako nakasama :-\
Let's get it on!

MotoLGXDA

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2009, 01:30:01 PM »
Greetings from the HONG KONG POKER HOUSE!
Regular cash games nightly 10-20, 25-50 and upwards.  Minimum buy-in is HK$500 but the fantastic news is NO RAKE!  One time membership fee is HK$500 and you can play poker nitely never paying any rake.  FOOD AND DRINKS ARE NOT FREE THOUGH(minimum consumable HK$250)!
no alcohol served (not liquor license yet), players may bring their own alchoholic drinks (ONLY) as long as it comes with receipts (from nearbly 7-11).

Good news is one of the owners (not Phil Laak nor Joe Hachem though) is a friend and he is willing to offer PM members ONE time free entrance as a GUEST MEMBER if you want to play on your first visit (STILL NEED TO MEET CONSUMABLE REQUIREMENT).  It is at 1st Floor, 49 Hollywood Road Central Hong Kong.  Just 5 minute walk from the famous bar streets D'Aguilar and Lan Kwai Fong.


I am now actually on the 2nd floor, soon to be opened new place called BankRoll.  It is a poker bar/restaurant with 5 tables.  There will be regular tournaments and cash games (as low as HK$1-2 blinds, no rake).  The entry is HK$250 includes 2 drinks and Japanese sushi, no membership required. ALCOHOL drinks being served.

Now I understand why HK grinders don't need to go to Macau if it is only POKER they desire!



NOTE:Starting July 1, 2009 ALL indoor areas of bars, clubs, nightclubs, bathhouses, massage establishments and mahjong-tin kau shall be no smoking by authority of HK Tobacco Control Office.
http://www.tco.gov.hk/english/legislation/legislation_dsb.html


Welcoat, I might just take them up on the one time free entrace offer!  We're swinging by HK after our Macau trip. How do I avail of this offer? Who do I look for?

What do you mean by "still need to meet consumabe requirement?" I understand this to mean that even if entrance is free, I have to order at least 250HK$ worth of food and drinks? tama ba?
« Last Edit: August 23, 2013, 01:46:42 PM by PepeSmith »
f*ck you variance!

welcoat

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2009, 01:01:33 PM »
YES, the field report by mnlgrind is quite accurate.
http://pokermanila.com/index.php?topic=1696.0

You walk up or take elevator 1 level up, if you are lucky you will meet a pretty face other wise you will see a big black guy.  Identify your self as player from POKERMANILA.COM and look for Elise, I hope she will set you up as promised.

HK regulations do not allow them to open to walk-in public.  Most of the HK play rooms allow entry to members or 'guests'. There is no rake in the cash games normally open after dinner time 8pm, the rooms make money by charging entry fee or what's known here as cover charge with 2 free non-alcohol drinks (particularly for the HKPH as it is not opened as a bar but private resto, no liquor license).

In any case, my friend decided to open a separate entity with full bar resto open to public after 5pm, BANKROLL.  The idea is to allow public to play tournaments for free but food needs to be ordered.  Similar to POKER BAR TOUR in Manila years ago but no cash prizes only GCs etc.  There is also possiblity of playing low blind games or SNGs amongst the players present. 

The rooms have professional dealers who are not employees and get no salary but only tips from players and percentage of pot from tournaments.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 01:27:36 PM by welcoat »
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. "-Albert Einstein
Poker is a game of SKILL with elements of short-term LUCK.  Skill and discipline determine winning cash players, but GOD decides who shall be Tournament Champion.

viceroy26

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2010, 05:39:00 PM »
It's actually a very good deal because you pay no rake at all. HK$250 is much less than what you would pay if you had to pay rake (assuming zero cover charge) so it works out in favour of the players.

simshi

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2010, 08:06:31 PM »
For over a year, this was where I called home. I was out of a job thanks to the great US economy so I was there almost every night, from 8pm till 4am.

The games are good, by 9pm, there will be 2 tables of HK$10/20 going (PHP 60/120). games are quite soft, but you get a lot of calling stations. Once I had some guy calling all three streets with A high. All pot size bets.

The staff are nice, especially if you know them well. The floormen now are mostly women. I knew them from they were newbie dealers. The HKD 250 gets you two drinks or one food item and one drink. No rake but you tip the dealers because that is how they get paid.

Once in a while there is a PLO game, and once a month there is the Lawrence's Cup. A HKD2k buy in tournament, one rebuy, one add on. Last time I played, the top prize was 60k (360k php). I finished 9th. Long story, my JJ got busted by 77. Nope, he did not spike a 7, a four card f***ing straight....

Overall the game is fun, starts a bit too late for my liking though. Half of the players are regulars, by the 3rd day you will know them by name. But the rest are casual players.

11Finger

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2010, 03:14:20 PM »
Simshi, how's the security there ? I mean what are the chances you'd get busted by HK police ?

simshi

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2010, 01:29:56 AM »
Simshi, how's the security there ? I mean what are the chances you'd get busted by HK police ?

Security is okay. There has been a few times, some sore losers calling the police on the place. The police came up to check for liquor consumption. (HKPH did not have liquor license at the time) But as far as gambling, it is very safe. If they raided the place, they would have to raid the hundreds of Mahjong establishments in HK as well. As long there is no violence, they keep one eye shut.

I forgot to mention, the HKPH also has something unique. They are the only place I have seen that has the Mississippi Straddle. (straddle on the button instead of UTG) It is a great straddle because now the button is last to act even preflop. If both UTG and button want to straddle, Mississippi straddle has the say. Meaning that the button can force UTG not to straddle by straddling on the button.

welcoat

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2010, 04:23:53 AM »
the owners hired a burly black guy to man the entrance on second floor, the door is heavy-built similar to entering a bank safe panel.
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. "-Albert Einstein
Poker is a game of SKILL with elements of short-term LUCK.  Skill and discipline determine winning cash players, but GOD decides who shall be Tournament Champion.

simshi

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2010, 09:40:52 AM »
Hey welcoat, maybe I know you in person? When i played there I didn't know many Filipinos as far as i knew....


welcoat

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2010, 10:17:39 AM »
Hey welcoat, maybe I know you in person? When i played there I didn't know many Filipinos as far as i knew....
kelly is regular manila visitor, good friend since APPT 2007 MANILA when he was still single? and not yet father of two.  the sushi roll guys upstairs i played with in macau last month. let me know when you go METRO, we are nearby, weekdays 2pm and 7pm tourneys.
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. "-Albert Einstein
Poker is a game of SKILL with elements of short-term LUCK.  Skill and discipline determine winning cash players, but GOD decides who shall be Tournament Champion.

welcoat

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2010, 02:44:47 AM »
Andrew W Scott The Inside Scoop on the Hong Kong Poker House Raid
Tuesday 10 August 2010 at 20:45

PART ONE ONLY…
(Part two to come in about an hour or so maybe)…
(Sorry no time to check for typos apologies in advance)…

THE LEADUP

Over the last couple of years The Hong Kong Poker house has become the lynchpin of the poker-playimng community in Hong Kong. Everyone who is anyone knows it. It started off with six tables on the first floor of 49 Hollywood Road, in the absolute heart of the party district of Hong Kong.

About a year later, they opened up “Bankroll”, directly above the HKPH, on the second floor. There was capacity for about another six table there too.

Collectively both the first and second floor (HKPH and Bankroll) were just known as the HKPH.

It was a private members club – you could only get in if you had signed up as a member. Members did have the right to sign in guests.

Contrary to public opinion, there is legal gambling in Hong Kong outside of the HKJC’s monopoly. Mahjong takes place in licenced venues all over the city, and is commonly beton for money at social occasions such as weddings and just ordinary nights at friend’s houses. As long as certain conditions stipulated under the Hong Kong Gambling Ordinance are adhered to, gambling is legal. Those conditions included the need to conduct at a licensed venue (liquor or restaurant licence), that the owner didn’t play, that there was no rake or house take from pots, at that all players played with an equal position (no built-in advantage to anyone one player).

The HKPH’s activities were totally legal, but relied on strict adherence to these conditions. HKPH always religiously stuck to the rules, knowing that if they didn’t they could be in trouble with the law.

The HKPH was the first poker house in Hong Kong, and proved to be the model for many imitators. Others copied the format, but never quite as professionally as the HKPH and without the same rigid detail. Because of this, the clubs were eventually raided and some shut-down.

THE CLOSURE ANNOUNCEMENT

Last week it was announced that the HKPH was going to close on Tuesday 10 August. The mail was that the landlord had decided not to renew the lease. The closure apparently wasn’t due to any legal problem.

A flyer was circulated about the closing night. The deal was that for a cover entry fee of HK$300, members and their guests could eat and drink as much as they liked. The Club wanted to clear out all its food and drink before it closed.

In addition there was going to be a freeroll (STRESS: FREEROLL) tournment for the members. For those of you that don’t know a freeroll tournament is one that is entirely free to play. Players would be given 2,000 “dollars” in chips as a starting stack in the tournament. These “dollars” of course are not real dollars at all, but are play money, or funny money, or whatever you want to call it. It is like the play money one uses in a monopoly game. Just like monopoly, the game continues until someone has all the “money”.

The closure was big news in the Hong Kong and Macau poker communities. Everyone who was anyone was going to be there. Pokerstars Macau donated some prizes for the higher placed winners of the tournament. None of these prizes were cash, they were things like Pokerstars merchandise (clothing, chips sets, etc), free nights accommodation at the Grand Lisboa hotel, that kind of thing.

Jeff Ng, someone well known in the Hong Kong and Macau poker communities as the Managing Director of the Hong Kong Poker League (not to be confused with the Hong Kong Poker House) sent a group email out about the night.

THE SCMP CITYSEEN ITEM

One of the recipients of Mr Ng’s email was Ben Sin, a reporter at the SCMP (South China Morning Post – Hong Kong’s major English language daily newspaper). Ben had previously written some stories about poker in Hong Kong, and Jeff had invited him merely as a guest of a member and as a courtesy since Ben had done some poker-related stories. Mr Ng’s email was in no way a press release or even a public document. It was a group email to some poker-community friends.

Mr Sin, completely without consulting Mr Ng, decided to run a piece on Tuesday (the day of the closing event) in the “CitySeen” section of the SCMP. This piece quoted Mr Ng by name, but paraphrased his email, rewording the quotes. I have seen the differences in both the piece and the email, and clearly Mr Sin was a journalist trying to “juice up” his piece. I’m a journalist too, and know the temptation to create a story better than the original, but I professionalism always stops me doing it. If I write a story that has quote marks in it, you can sure as hell bet that the words in-between the quote marks are the precise words that were spoken to me. This was not the case in the CitySeen piece.

To make things worse, the CitySeen piece was written almost as an ad. To the uninitiated (and no doubt to the police), it looked like a promotion to the public, which is was most certainly not. It even included the address and the starting time! And this was a private members’ club event!

THE NIGHT BEGINS

With my role at World Gaming magazine (www.WGM8.com), I spend a lot of time in Macau. I made a special trip from Macau to Hong Kong, just to be at the closing function. I arrived at the HKPH at about 7:20pm to notice a long line trailing from the door. Many people were already inside and many more were trying to get in.

Some people who were not members or their guests were turned away at the door – even on their last ever night the HKPH were strictly adhering to their long-held policy of members and their guests only.

When I got inside I saw what was clearly a very social occasion. I saw people I hadn’t seen in months, or even years, food and drink were laid out, everyone was in a happy, jovial mood. The party atmosphere was in full swing and there was a TV crew recording video interviews of noteable players like China top-prize money winner David Steicke.

The free poker tournament was due to start at 7:30pm, but didn’t really get going until 8pm, which is quite normal. The tournament started and much fun was had.

There were five table of ten players downstairs at HKPH and five tables of ten players upstairs at Bankroll, a total of 100 players playing. In addition, there were maybe about 50 alternates (I’m guessing here). Alternates are players that can join the game once a player busts out and a seat frees up for them. On top of that, there were maybe 14 or so dealers, bar staff, friends, people standing around eating, drinking and socialising. Some of the alternates were waiting out in the street due to the sheer volume of people in the club. In the club itself, there were maybe 180 people spread over both floors.

The people in the club represented a broad cross-section of HK society. Most of the Hong Kong poker community was there. Male and female, young and old, expat and local Chinese, many professionals: bankers, lawyers, accountants, etc. The ladies were elegantly dressed and the gentlemen’s dress range from corporate suits to trendy modern casual.

I was playing in the tournament and pushed all-in with Kx of clubs on a flop with two clubs including the ace of clubs and was called by a player with A9. For once in my life I actually hit a draw when the beautiful club card came on the turn and I double up my chip stack from approximately 2,000 “dollars” in chips to approximately 4,000 “dollars” in chips. Had a just won $2,000 in cash? No, of course not. Merely my chip stack (or, if you like, my “score”) had gone from 2,000 to 4,000. That’s all.

THE RAID

Suddenly, at about 8:30pm from nowhere there was a plainclothes cop at each table with ID around his neck. There was total confusion for about 15 minutes until, at about 8:45pm, the crowd quietened down and the person in charge of the raid, Chief Inspector Cheung Man-shing (English name: Alvin Cheung) [police number UI70292] announced:

“I am here under the authority of the gambling authority. You are now all under arrest on suspicion of gambling.”

Of course this was totally ridiculous. There was zero gambling going on, there had not been a single bet placed all night. There was no money on the tables.

Chief Inspector Cheung later admitted to a friend that he plays Texas Holdem Poker himself at the Grand Lisboa in Macau, but he said he didn’t believe it was any different to Caribbean Poker (thus showing his complete lack of understanding of the game of poker and how it works).

I was on the second floor – apparently on the first floor they brandished a search warrant to the room in general but it was later discovered that the search warrant was for the first floor only, not the second floor.

Police told everyone not to move and only allowed people to go to the toilet one at a time (there were uniformed cops guarding the exits, and toilets). The plainclothes police at the tables did not have guns but the uniformed police standing just outside the rooms did.

An inordinate period of time passed with very little happening. On some tables cops were counting chips, on other they were placing stickers on the tables, on others taking photos with cameras.

The police then physically took everyone’s ID cards away from them. Many players didn’t like the idea and personally I refused to give the police my passport. I wasn’t letting go of that passport. Some people asked for a receipt, but the police laughed and showed their own IDs, saying “that’s your receipt”.

The police were clearly understaffed, inefficient and inconsistent in their approach. The didn’t inform anyone as to what was going on. People were confused, tired, hungry, and thirsty. Many hadn’t eaten since lunchtime (planning to eat at the function) and this was going on for hour after hour.

Eventually there was a revolt on our floor (I’m not exactly sure what was happening on the floor below) and Chief Inspector Cheung quietened the crowd and announced to everyone that if the whole process hadn’t been completed by 12:30am, he would allow almost everyone to go then. This was clearly an outright lie (since the first person, a breast-feeding mother, was not release until approximately 6am the following day) designed to placate the crowd and a lawyer later told me that this is known as an inducement to co-operate or an inducement to give a statement.

Then they started searching back rooms and putting things in evidence bags. There was no cash on the table at any time.

Remember at this moment, everyone was under arrest and was owed a duty of care by the Hong Kong police. Then, at about 10:30, the fire alarm went off in the building…

In part two coming soon (hopefully just a couple of hours):

…how the police barricaded the players into the building while the fire alarm was ringing and we could see fire trucks out on the street and fire men entering the building…

…how the police contacted the media and arranged a clearly orchestrated perp walk for the TV cameras…

…how the police took everyone the Central Police station and took 14 hours merely to get everyones contact details…

…how the police promised up McDonalds takeaway but failed to deliver!
http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=138658059503245&topic=162
« Last Edit: August 13, 2010, 03:01:10 AM by welcoat »
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. "-Albert Einstein
Poker is a game of SKILL with elements of short-term LUCK.  Skill and discipline determine winning cash players, but GOD decides who shall be Tournament Champion.

welcoat

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2010, 03:27:03 AM »
My first and last visit to the Hong Kong Poker House. – Part One
by Dan Sing
So I find myself inside the famous Hong Kong Poker House in Hollywood Road.No not playing cards but on the set of the Supercapitalistfeature film where I am playing a character who happens to be playing poker. I know...Spooky.



As you can see from the website the venue is by no means"underground". It is well advertised and operates above board, hosting numerous charity events including one recently which raised over $50K forchildren in need.

I had heard about the HKPH many times and having finally walked in the venue I find out that it is closing the following day and to celebrate they are having a closing party with a HKD300 (NZD60) cover charge which includes unlimited drinks and food all night. They were also running a freeroll with prizes donated by pokerstars up for grabs, the best prize being a seat at the Macau Poker Cup worth HKD10K (NZD2K) as well as loads of pokerstars merch.

The venue is reportedly closing as their lease is up and is not being renewed. To give you a bit of background, after a bunch of poker joints popped up around the city, the HK Police started to raid a few of them and shut them down for not following the rules. You see there are some parameters which should allow you to play poker legally in Hong Kong not unlike how Mah Jong is played all over Hong Kong in licensed venues which do not take a commission andso forth. Over the years the HKPH had been operating they never had problems with the police as they religiously kept to the guidelines.

It all sounded like a fantastic idea so I headed along witha new friend I had made on the film set who had played up there before.

Upon arrival we paid the cover charge downstairs and headed for the bar. A couple of Heinekens and some sushi went down pretty well and I spot a bunch of familiar faces amongst the crowd. Pokerstars Team Asia Pro Celina Lin is here (a work gig for her I guess) along with Andrew W. Scott, David Steicke and the core of Hong Kong's poker enthusiasts.

With well over a hundred guests it's all a very social vibe and eventually we sit down to play the freeroll a good thirty minutes later than advertised but the social side of the night most certainly outweighed the poker. Many of the attendees were celebrating an end of an era in a venue where they shared good times, built friendships, and even played a little poker.

At around 845pm midway through the second level a plain clothes police officer shows us his badge and instructs us to stop playing. The same was happening at the other tables. The policeman in charge then tells us that they are here under the gambling ordinance with suspicion of illegal gambling. At this stage a lawyer amongst the guests stood up and told thepolice officer that he had read the gambling ordinance that day to be sure that playing in a free tournament for prizes and not cash is in no way criminal activity. He also went on to tell the policeman that everyone is here on a social occasion and has paid a cover charge for unlimited food and drink andthat is all.

It was clear that the policeman in charge had not expected to find over a hundred people playing a free tournament. It was more likely that they expected to catch twenty people playing for money and hence they only had the man power to deal with the expected situation.

The policeman seemed to ignore what the lawyer had to say and instructed the policemen to continue with the planned raid which entailed collecting everyone's id cards and personal information.This seemed to take an age and there was no consistency with some tables having their id cards taken from them and others merely having their information extracted. As time moved on players demanded to use the bathroom and were only permitted to do so one at a time. Remember there are around a hundred people on the floor but only enough police to keep an eye on one person at a time taking a piss.

For long periods of time the police just stood there waiting for instructions and we were instructed to just sit and wait. At one stage theman in charge quoted the gambling ordinance and then said that it was withinour rights not to say anything. Then he disappeared again. I turned to a guy next to me and said "does that mean we've all been arrested?" No one seemed to know.

A short while later the fire alarm goes off. People are eager to get out of the building however the police will NOT let us leave.Quite possibly the worst decision of the evening by the cops. People start to panic, Andrew Scott warns them that they could have a stampede on their hands whilst David Steicke questions them as to the police protocol in this situation which seemed to be – wait for the fire department to arrive and tell us that it's a false alarm and if it isn't then evacuate. Have you ever heard anything more stupid. The police are opening themselves up to a class action here with gross negligence putting over one hundred and fifty lives at risk. Once David had established the protocol the policeman replied – I am here as well. If there is a fire and we die I will die too. - Great answer genius.

Like most police stunts in Hong Kong the first on the sceneare the media, even before the raid so that they can make the cops look likethey are fighting crime. After about three hours of sitting around doing nothing, the police start to escort people out, table by table as they only had two police vans. In single file which has become known as the "perp walk". With the media filming and taking photos in a papprazzi frenzy, some chose to covertheir faces with magazines. Many of us, myself included didn't bother as we all knew we hadn't done anything wrong. Of course all the media coverage only showed footage of those covering their faces which of course makes you look guilty of whatever it is. In no publication or online news source have I seen the photo of Andrew Scott waving and smiling but I do have it on video since well they were filming us so I was filming them.

Why did it take so long to get us out of the venue? Most people think they were waiting for more media to arrive.

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« Last Edit: August 23, 2013, 01:47:21 PM by PepeSmith »
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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2010, 04:01:41 AM »
Inside Scoop on HKPH raid FINAL Part Two by Andrew W Scott 11 August 2010

THE FIRE ALARM AND THE POLICE’S FLAGRANT DISREGARD FOR OUR LIVES

The police completely ignored the fire alarm, as if it wasn’t happening. Everyone looked at each other, and the police, for about a minute, and then the very forceful discussion began. People, myself included, were very forcefully telling the police that there was a fire alarm and we needed to get out of the building. The police, who looked pretty young and inexperienced, acted liked deer stunned by oncoming headlights. They clearly had not been trained in what to do in this situation. People were saying things like we have to get out of here, and the police refused to let us go.

I feared that a stampede would occur and that people might be killed in the crush even if it was a false alarm and there was no fire. Those of you that know the HKPH building know that it only has two very slow and very small lifts, and of course in a fire you are not supposed to use the lifts anyway.

I have always thought the HKPH building was a bit of a potential death-trap in a fire situation. The building has two stairwells that look almost identical (I think one zigzags on the even floors and one on the odd floors). One leads to the street outside but the other leads to a complete dead end – just a solid concrete wall at a 45 degree angle to the floor. On several occasions when leaving the HKPH by stairs I have found myself stuck in that dead end and having to turn around and go back up. If 180 people stampeded down the stairs and we got stuck in that dead-end, well, I think people would have died.

I said all this to Constable Huang straight to his face. I begged him to let us out of the building. David Steicke was forcefully asking a policewoman who seemed a bit more senior what the protocol was for this situation and she replied, “we wait to see if it is a false alarm”. This of course brought guffaws of incredulousness from the crowd. I mentioned the situation in the 9/11 attacks where emergency services told people to wait in the building while the fire was spreading. It really was a stressful and somewhat scary situation.

That situation only got worse when we looked out the window and two fire engines arrived! People were starting to panic. I told Constable Huang that I didn’t care that we were under arrest for something that we hadn’t done (which was precisely the case), all I cared about was my life. If there was even a one percent chance I was going to die in a fire that wasn’t a chance that any of us should take. He then said, “well what about me, I’m at risk too” as a justification for holding us. I thought to myself the fact that a Hong Kong policemen died too in a fire wouldn’t be much of a comfort to my mother if I died, but I decided not to say that, electing instead to tell him that I wanted him to get out of the danger too.

Next thing we knew, two firemen burst into the room, randomly walked around for a few seconds, and then departed just as quickly. Imagine the panic that was welling up and about to unfold.

I even offered to be handcuffed, just to get out of the building. I said he’s welcome to handcuff me for the walk out of the building and then to cuff me to a rail on the street below.

I learned later that things on the first floor were much worse. Apparently, the crowd in that room did in fact rush the doors and try to escape, and the police got outside the doors, and barricaded them by using their weight against the doors while the club members were pushing the doors on the other side, trying to escape the building.

Just imagine the situation if there HAD been a fire. The police, whose duty it is to try to protect life and limb, would have been the cause of death firstly because of the fact that they conducted a ridiculous operation most probably just as a publicity stunt fully knowing that no laws were being broken, and secondly because of actually barricading people in a death-trap. Whoever trained these police has some serious explaining to do.

Anyway, after about 25 minutes, the fire alarm stopped and the police suddenly announced with confidence that it was a false alarm. They certainly didn’t have that confidence when the alarm first started sounding and they were all looking at each other like stunned mullets.

For the next hour the police continued “evidence gathering”, but I suspect they were really liaising with the media getting the next step organised.

THE ORCHESTRATED PERP WALK

By now there were TV cameras crews on the street outside, and a newspaper cameraman. I later learned that these were from Apple Daily, the major Chinese language newspaper in Hong Kong. Apple Daily is by far the largest circulation newspaper in Hong Kong, and appeals to the precise constituency that the police are trying to convince they are doing a good job fighting crime. The South China Morning Post is the major English-language newspaper and appeals to the expats rather than the locals.

Well surprise surprise, it just so happened that Apple Daily were all organised, had staff ready to go and knew exactly where and when the raid was going to be. I wonder how that was? The SCMP wasn’t so lucky to get the scoop. Perhaps the SCMP wasn’t going to be as police-friendly in its coverage.

All the players were now lead down in single file, one table at a time, marched criminal style straight into the police van. It was just like something out of a movie, a typical perp walk and was clearly set up to be so. Many people got books, clothes and magazines (including World Gaming magazine) to cover their faces with. This of course was precisely what the police and Apple Daily wanted – people who looked like criminals being marched off by the efficient long arm of the law. Good job, Hong Kong police, you’re tough on crime, and especially those evil gamblers.

The evil perp walk picture showing us criminal masterminds was splashed across the front cover of Apple Daily the next day (Wednesday 11 August). It was accompanied by a sensationalist story littered with factual inaccuracies, but I’ll save that discussion for another time. Notice also that the raid and perp walk occurred just in time to make the cutoff for the next day’s newspaper coverage. If that perp walk had been just say an hour later, it wouldn’t have made it for the next morning’s paper. Nice co-operation between the police and Apple Daily.

I smiled and waved at the press and looked happy – thus ensuring my picture would not be shown in any media coverage. That’s not the shot that had been orchestrated between the police and the media.

Just remember we’re not talking about Triad Gangsters here, we’re talking about mostly university and college-educated white collar professionals who have never been in trouble with the law in their life paying HK$300 for the food and drink of a party and playing a FREE game of poker together, with no money involved. And these people were frog-marched into a police van in front of TV cameras like common criminals.
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. "-Albert Einstein
Poker is a game of SKILL with elements of short-term LUCK.  Skill and discipline determine winning cash players, but GOD decides who shall be Tournament Champion.

welcoat

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2010, 04:03:58 AM »


THE COP SHOP

By now everyone was tired, bored, dejected, and some were getting a bit depressed.

The police vans (there were multiple vans going at the same time) brought us to the Central Police Station in Shueng Wan ten at a time. So it took about 18 trips back and forth from the HKPH to the police station to get everyone to the station. That took over two hours.

They put us in three rooms. The room I was in was the main room. It was clearly a training room, with a large whiteboard at one end and about 70 chairs lined up facing the whiteboard. By the time they brought us all in about ten at a time there was probably about 120 people in that one room. That room became our home for the next 7 hours (if you were lucky like me and got out at 7am) or more like the next 12 hours (if you were unlucky and got out at 12noon). I heard the last people got out at around 2pm the next day (Wednesday 11 August).

Anyway, we didn’t all get to the station and into that room until about maybe 1:30am.

There was a mini-revolt the one time Chief Inspector Cheung showed his face in the room. Everyone quite rightfully demanded to know why he had not honoured his word and released us at 12:30am as he had said he would. He had no answer for us. He just muttered something incomprehensible, shrugged his shoulders and walked out.

When a senior policeman lies directly to your face, knowing that his lie will be found out just a few hours later, but does it anyway, what does that do to your confidence in what the police tell you?

By now people were getting thirsty and very hungry. The police gave us a one of those five-gallon water containers that normally go atop water coolers and a bunch of tiny paper cones. We served ourselves awkwardly.

Some of the English guys broke out in song – it sounded like those songs that the English fans sing at football matches. A bunch of other guys had a staring contest with a poor unfortunate junior female police officer stationed at the front of the room and got her to smile, much to the delight of the crowd.

I piped up and demanded that some people get some food. I said to one of the cops that there were people who hadn’t eaten for maybe 14 hours and the police had a duty of care to us. There was one fellow who was getting very cold and sick and was begging for some food. God knows what would have happened if anyone had a serious medical condition.

At one point an obviously senior police officer came into the room and got everyone’s attention. He announced to the crowd that there would be no statements taken from anyone tonight. The plan was merely to confirm the identities of everyone by checking and recording their IDs, and then “bail” everyone at a cost of HK$500 each. He used the expression “bail”, but I was under the impression that you couldn’t be bailed if you hadn’t been charged (maybe I am wrong about this), and I wouldn’t imagine they would charge anyone with questioning them. As it happened in the end as far as I know no-one got charged (certainly I didn’t and no-one I know did) and we had to all pay HK$400, not HK$500. Some people didn’t have the money and had to borrow it off others. So much for us all being high-rolling gamblers!

Eventually, after a while the police actually brought in some lamb souvlakis! However, given that none of us were Jesus Christ and able to feed the masses with a few small loaves those handful of souvlakis weren’t enough to go around. Later they brought a very few small containers of char siu, a popular pork dish in Hong Kong. Again, too little too late. Then, low and behold, they announced that they were going to buy us McDonalds! I couldn’t believe it!

They announced this in Cantonese and someone who was bilingual explained to all the English speakers (the English speakers probably slightly outnumbered the Chinese speakers) that we had to nominate two types of burger and they would get plenty of both. We proceeded by consensus to do so (for the record I think we settled on Big Mac and Cheeseburger, but I’m not sure). The McDonalds never arrived. Another police promise broken! Actually, with that one I suspect it may have been a genuine language miscommunication.

The whole situation took on a bit of a “Lord of the Flies” atmosphere. As people do, they broke into cliques. They schemed and plotted. They thought of ways to try to get the police to do something. There were many plaintiff appeals to the cops in English and Cantonese. At times, the room had a bit of party atmosphere. To the credit of the Hong Kong poker community, if anyone was intimidated by the situation, they didn’t show it. We had strength in numbers. They were about 120 of us in that room (and about another 55 in two other rooms), and we outnumbered the police. I actually believe a lot of bonding between fellow poker players went on in that room over those wee hours of the morning. Maybe something good will come of all this.

Some people collapsed on the floor to sleep. Others got angry. One guy wanted us all to make a scene and cause mayhem to force the cops to do something. Others (including me) thought that was a bad idea and discouraged him (just as I had been discouraged from trying to walk out before we were arrested). No-one blamed that guy or got angry, he was just suggesting what he thought was best. One thing I can say about the Hong Kong/Macau poker community, is that despite us all going to battling against each other at the poker tables, that night we were all as one, in it together. There were no heated arguments. People helped each other. People encouraged each other. The more outspoken of us spoke on behalf of those whose natural inclination is not to speak out. Everyone understood what everyone was going through.

In a lighter moment one guy grabbed the policewomen’s hat (she had left it on a table) and tried it on. This didn’t go down well with the cops who rushed over and reprimanded him.

I was having a text message conversation with a reporter from the SCMP who had heard about what was happening. A couple of other people were asking me to get the media down to the police station (not quite sure how I was meant to do that). I imagine some of the more adventurous guys were quietly plotting an escape attempt!

We were all bound by one simple fact universally understood by all of us: we had all been arrested for something that we unequivocally knew we were not guilty of. The police had made a mistake. We were right and they were wrong.

Time rolled on. 3am. 4am. Nothing. The police gave us no meaningful explanations as to what was going on. From time to time one of the more outspoken people would demand to know what was happening and the police merely came up with platitudes like “please be patient”, “there is a lot of you”, “I don’t know how long it will be” – just meaningless statements.

I continued to refuse to hand over my passport. Someone said they had called their lawyer and their lawyer had said that the police didn’t have the right to take ID cards. At one stage, the police approached me and basically acknowledged that they didn’t have the right to confiscate my passport by politely asking me if I was continuing to refuse to give them my passport, and when I said that I was (but that I was happy to show it to them while I held it) they had no complaint with that. They had to process some details of my passport details and told me to accompany them to another part of the station to show my passport to a data entry person. Pushing thoughts of being “back-roomed” out of my head, I complied, and indeed they were being honest about what they wanted to do.

While I was walking alone with the single plainclothes policemen I took the opportunity to ask him why they had conducted the raid when they knew it was the last night of the HKPH. He replied quite candidly, that poker in Hong Kong was illegal (this statement is not correct) and that the HKPH had been far too high profile by having an ad in the paper about the closing night. When he said “ad” he was clearly referring to Ben Sin’s piece in the CitySeen section of Tuesday’s SCMP. I am not saying this piece is the one and only cause of the raid, but just quoting what that police officer told me.

Meanwhile, David Steicke had changed his 11:30pm Tuesday flight to a 9am Wednesday flight to Australia. As the hours rolled on again it became apparent that he was going to miss the new flight time and he had to go to the expense and inconvenience of changing his flight once again. Finally he ended up on a 7pm flight on Wednesday, and actually we are both on that flight right now as I type this. No I am not running away from Hong Kong, I was scheduled to be on this flight before the raid and I will be returning to Hong Kong quite soon.

I was asked my occupation and nationality at least three times through the night by the police, and I know that many other people were asked for their details multiple times. Maybe the police were checking to see if we gave consistent answers, or maybe they were just incompetent at data collection.

After hours and hours and hours when they were doing God-knows-what they finally started taking people out of the room, five at a time. Luckily I was in the fifth group so I got out reasonably early. We were taken down to another section of the station in our group of five and we had to pay HK$400 each to get out. As a final indignity they told us they didn’t have any change (despite obviously collecting HK$400 from at least twenty people so far) and that we would have to work it out between the five of us and just present them with HK$2,000 as a group. We worked it out, gave them the HK$2,000 and then we were called up to a counter one at a time.

FREEDOM AT LAST

I was the third person called up which I guess made me the 23rd person to be released of the 120 or so people in that room. People tell me after I left it was just more of the same and people continued to be release very slowly, five at a time, for the next five hours or so.

At the counter I was given a single piece of paper for my HK$400, stating that I was under a recognisance under section 52 of the Police Force Ordinance, to return to the police station at a date in late August. No-one specifically asked me to come back to the station, but based on what the police said to us, and based on what I have heard about similar cases, I presume the appointment as outlined on the piece of paper is to make a statement, even if that statement is “I have no statement to make”. Prevailing wisdom from the lawyers is to say nothing at all until and unless you are charged and find yourself with a day in court. Then you can prepare a defence. It may well be that the police are not able to form a case against us and no-one will be charged.

At this stage I am not sure whether it is true, but I have heard that the police have one month to lay charges.

I am yet to take legal advice on the implications of the various options available to me. Obviously I travel extensively and may well not be able to be in Hong Kong on the date I am supposed to return to the police station, so who knows how I will deal with that.

I was in police custody from my arrest at approximately 8:45pm to my release at approximately 7am. More than ten hours of my life wasted on a complete debacle.

THE AFTERMATH AND SOME THOUGHTS

This raid was a disaster and there should be a backlash against the police – firstly for doing it and secondly for the way they did it. The police seemed totally unprepared for the number of people that were at the HKPH, even though the raid clearly had significant preparation go into it.

An opinion expressed by many to me is that this entire raid was simply a publicity stunt by the police. The argument is that the police don’t understand poker, they are scared of it, and they just want to get rid of it whether it is legal or not. The argument further contends that by having orchestrated perp walks on the front page of the Chinese newspaper they look like they are being “tough on gambling”, and they scare people from playing. The prevailing wisdom is that the result of all this is that it will push poker underground – basically creating criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens.

Maybe the police need a training course to explain to them precisely what is going on with poker in Hong Kong. Maybe the Hong Kong government needs to look at the Gambling Ordinance and bring it up to date with modern times. Maybe poker in Hong Kong needs to regulated and licensed somehow, maybe in conjunction with the Hong Kong Jockey Club which is already a respected gaming organisation in Hong Kong.

The people in that perp walk who sadly found themselves portrayed as common criminals on the front page of Apple Daily should be hailed as heros in the poker community. They were ordinary law-abiding citizens going to a legal social function and did not deserve any of what they got. I feel terribly sorry for them.

There is clearly a groundswell of support for poker in Hong Kong. It’s not just the expat community. Sure, it started with the expat community but now we have local Chinese people who don’t speak a word of English embracing the wonderful game of No Limit Holdem Poker. Look at the expansion of poker across the world, through the US, Europe, Russia, Australasia and indeed Macau.

If the police wanted this raid to end poker in Hong Kong I think they have succeeded in putting a lid on it for a while. They’ve scared enough of the community that players will, for the time being, simply sail to Macau to play, where poker is completely legal and is currently available in five poker rooms.

However – as a long-term objective the police will not be able to stop people playing poker. The whole question of poker in Hong Kong needs to be tested and maybe it will be as a result of this raid. The Hong Kong poker playing community is now galvanised with a shared sense of outrage at this unjust police action. These players are intelligent, educated people with ethics, not criminals and gangsters. The police have not made any friends with their conduct.

Let me make it clear I love Hong Kong. I think it’s a wonderful city, quite possibly the best in the world. I respect her laws and her police, I just think this time they got it terribly wrong.

Poker is here to stay. People love poker. Poker is not a crime.

AWS


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"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. "-Albert Einstein
Poker is a game of SKILL with elements of short-term LUCK.  Skill and discipline determine winning cash players, but GOD decides who shall be Tournament Champion.

PepeSmith

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2010, 12:22:01 PM »
Oh my... Was suppose to look for this place when I go back to HK without the kids... Oh well... :-\

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ghidora_75

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2010, 03:49:28 PM »
Brings back memories of those good ol' days na ni-ra-raid ng NBI mga poker places around Metro Manila, before PAGCOR started giving out poker licenses.

PepeSmith

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2010, 03:56:13 PM »
Brings back memories of those good ol' days na ni-ra-raid ng NBI mga poker places around Metro Manila, before PAGCOR started giving out poker licenses.

Yup, that was the best thing PAGCOR did and look how everything turned out. All this raid is gonna do in HK is send all the poker players underground. Poker is here to stay, the Jockey Club should just give out licenses or open their own room and milk it.

em0rej

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2010, 06:31:41 PM »
Brings back memories of those good ol' days na ni-ra-raid ng NBI mga poker places around Metro Manila, before PAGCOR started giving out poker licenses.

Atty., how will the supposed plan to privitize pagcor affect poker in the phils? the gaming industry?

Sorry kung O.T.
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ghidora_75

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2010, 07:56:23 PM »
Brings back memories of those good ol' days na ni-ra-raid ng NBI mga poker places around Metro Manila, before PAGCOR started giving out poker licenses.

Atty., how will the supposed plan to privitize pagcor affect poker in the phils? the gaming industry?

Sorry kung O.T.

Privatizing PAGCOR needs an act of Congress because when Pres. Marcos created PAGCOR it was by way of a Presidential Decree which is during his time had the effect of law, so only a law can change that.

As for its effect on poker, it would all depend on how the law allowing privatization of PAGCOR would be worded.  It MAY be good for the poker community if the enabling law creates a gaming regulator and separates it from PAGCOR as an operator.  PAGCOR as the operator would be sold.  Right now, PAGCOR is self-regulating.  Once there is an independent regulator, more operators can come in and standards can efficiently be enforced. 

HOWEVER, I do not know what kind of effect it would have on the regulation of the online aspect of poker.  There are more issues related to that and it may not be the way we want it to be, especially given our tendency to be a US-Law copycat.

welcoat

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2010, 11:51:38 PM »
The score on Pagcor
Inquirer Opinion / Editorial 
Philippine Daily Inquirer Posted date: August 10, 2010
 
PRECISELY BECAUSE the magnitude of the money involved is staggering, the proposal of a prominent businessman to buy the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. should prompt sober reflection, not giddy (and premature) celebration. Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corp. suggests a $10-billion price tag is fair to both the government and any prospective investor. That is a lot of money (at current rates it’s worth about P450 billion) and will certainly qualify as the largest privatization in the country’s history.
http://services.inquirer.net/print/print.php?article_id=20100810-286074
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. "-Albert Einstein
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arvyt

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2010, 03:27:47 AM »
Brings back memories of those good ol' days na ni-ra-raid ng NBI mga poker places around Metro Manila, before PAGCOR started giving out poker licenses.

i remember those days! it was the day the poker was injected in my system! : ;D

welcoat

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Re: Hong Kong Poker House
« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2010, 01:13:25 PM »
Sorry count me out, I managed not to be at Valle Verde nor Halo the night my buddies were invited to the NBI.  I can understand why some find it exciting but my heart may not handle it, just like bungee jumping.
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. "-Albert Einstein
Poker is a game of SKILL with elements of short-term LUCK.  Skill and discipline determine winning cash players, but GOD decides who shall be Tournament Champion.


 

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Metro Card Club THREE! Anniversary Tournament Results
BALLER AWARDS: NEIL ARCE IS THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
ARCE: PHILIPPINES IS ‘TRUE HOME OF POKER IN ASIA’
BALLER AWARDS: CELINA LIN CROWNED POKER QUEEN
YOUNG-SHIN IM MAKES HISTORY IN CEBU
ATIENZA REIGNS AT MANILA POKER FIESTA
In The Well Mark Amparo
Metro SNG Signup NOW OPEN
Metro SNG Madness Rules and Policies

Cebu Gears Up for the First Ever APT Asian Series!
Lester Edoc wins Metro Holiday Freeroll
Empire Poker Crowns its First Tournament Emperor
PokerManila 6 handed tourney at the Metro

Mark Pagsuyuin wins PokerManila.com 6 handed Tournament
Metro Schedule
2011 PokerManila.com National LeaderBoard
PokerManila.com Heads up Tournament
ANTE-UP BOUNTY KNOCKOUT TOURNAMENT
33 DIC CUP SEATS IN PokerManila Metro SNG Madness
PokerManila.com Heads up Update
Kent del Rosario wins Metro 1-11
ONLY FOUR LEFT IN POKERMANILA HEADS UP CHALLENGE
Experience the fairy tale of APT Philippines 2011
There can only be one!!
ANTE-UP BOUNTY KNOCKOUT SATELLITE TO THE DIRTY ICE CREAM CUP
Don Carmona win PM Headsup
Ariel Reyes wins Series 2
The Metro DIC Cup
PM Poker in Venice P60 DICC
PokerInVenice SIGN UP PARTY @ GAMEFROG METROWALK
The Feb Fever Freeroll Day1 Results
Metro Feb Fever Freeroll Final Results
Metro DICC 2011 Wrap up
Convert PM Points into cash!!
Mods Pick April 29
Moderator's Pick March 25
APT PHILIPPINES GETS UNDER WAY
Moderator's Pick April 1
Moderator's Pick April 8, 2011
The Summer Freeroll Results
Metro PM SNG 311
Moderator's Pick April 15
Black Friday
Moderator's Pick May 15
Series #4
APT Asian Series Confirmed
SNG 367
DENIERICK-BALOT
2nd Place High Rollers Event
Lester Edoc Wins
MIDT Final Standings
APT Asian Series
Mod's pick June 23
APT Satelitte
Thunderbird Casino
PM APT Heads Up Satty
Steps to Millions
Arce 5th High Rollers Event
Edoc APT High Roller
APT Series 2011
Steps to Millions
iGaming Launch
PM APA
APA Freeroll
MAT Freeroll
Martin Gonzales Champ
Enriquez MAT Winner
Happy Bday Jojo
Mod's Pick Nov.2011
Congratulations MHT
Filart Wins!
Contest Party
Merry Christmas!
DICC 2012 Satty
APT Cebu 2012
PM Home Games
PM National Leaderboard
Metro Freeroll!
DICC Champ 2012
APT Heads up B2B
APT Ladies 2012
Filart 6th APT Manila
Monica Wins
Brion 5th PPT
APT GOA 2012
Ladies of Poker Fan Favorite
MIDT 2012
2nd Leg PPT
Gladys Zervoulaks Fan Fav
It's more fun at the Metro
Rene Pacayra PPT3
Mods Picks Aug5 2012
Martin Corpuz Wins PPT 4 2012
Sept Mod picks 2012
Augie Nasser 5th leg PPT 2012
APT Manila 2012
Mini mod pick 2012
MPF Sat
Metro Gangnam Style
Metro Poker Festival
Tofie Runas
Metro Holiday Freeroll
Sy wins 9th leg PPT
APT Manila on April
Edoc PPT 10th Leg
APT Phil 2013 Sched
PM Reps to Metro Summer Event
MOSES 'MOE' SAQUING
dito_na_me RWM
Guma SCOOP Champ
Jun Te 79th WSOP 2013
Kent del Rosario M2M champ II
King of Sports Open
Congratulations Yoda
Congratulations Tofie and Penmanila

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