WPT and Triton Postpone Asia Events Due to Coronavirus
It was only a matter of time. The spread of the coronavirus already impacted some poker events in the Asia-Pacific region and shut the doors of Macau casinos for weeks. Now, the World Poker Tour is feeling the effects of the epidemic as it makes the tough decision to postpone some of its events.
Strangely, the announcement didn’t come in the form of a World Poker Tour press release or even a post from any WPT social media account. It was a Facebook post (on a personal page, not a business page) from Danny McDonagh, the WPT’s Live Event Specialist who primarily works the Asia-Pacific region. The news spread from there.
Meanwhile, Triton continued with its South Korea event postponement, while Macau casinos prepare to reopen this week and the Asian Poker Tour rolls on without delay.
First Affected: WPT Philippines
The first sign of the coronavirus honing in on WPT territory was during the WPT Philippines Festival. That began on February 6 and was scheduled to continue through February 17. The original schedule promised a WPTDeepStacks Main Event with a guarantee of PHP20 million for a buy-in of PHP75,000.
Several days before the start of the festival, however, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte issued a directive on February 2. Out of an abundance of caution and to prevent the spread of the coronavirus into the Philippines, visitors would not be permitted from mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau. Anyone who had been to those places within 14 days would also not be permitted to enter the Philippines. The only exceptions to the travel ban would be Filipino citizens and those with permanent resident visas.
The WPT did note that its WPT Philippines festival would proceed. The only change would be to reduce the guarantee for the Main Event to PHP12 million.
The @WPT #WPTPhilippines is one of my favorites, friendly staff in a super luxurious venue held @okadamanila Festival dates from February 6-17, Super High Roller on Feb 13-14, and I'll be seeing you at the main event Feb 14-17 with PHP 75,000 ($1,500) buy-in. @WPTDeepStacks pic.twitter.com/jiR7OqGA6g
— Ivy Teves (@IvyTeves) February 10, 2020
As it turned out, the number of entries was 344, which created a prize pool of PHP22,523,400, which would have surpassed the original guarantee anyway.
Pause in the Action
Though the WPT Philippines did play out and did so successfully, WPT executives and those affiliated with casino partners in the Asia-Pacific region discussed upcoming tournaments. And there were a few that they decided to amend.
On the WPT DeepStacks schedule, the WPT Taiwan festival of tournaments was listed to take place from April 27 to April 6. The Main Event was to be a TWD33,000 buy-in tournament that would be the finale of the series. All events were to be held at the Chinese Texas Hold’em Poker Association.
The decision was made to simply postpone this festival. The WPT Taiwan festival will now take place May 14-24, with the Main Event scheduled for May 19-23. It will be the final WPTDeepStacks event and conclude the season’s Asia Pacific Player of the Year race.
WPT Vietnam was also on the schedule, with a festival scheduled for March 13-22, including a Main Event set for March 17-21. It was schedule to take place at the Pro Poker Club in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Vietnam events were cancelled altogether.
As mentioned, the announcement came from McDonagh’s personal Facebook page, on which he posted a message. This read, in part:
“We have come to the conclusion that it is best for WPT to take a break from events in Asia these next three months until a clearer picture about the spread of the Corona Virus, and the ability to safely hold the events, can be determined.
“Accordingly, we will be cancelling our 2nd Season XVIII WPT Vietnam event and postponing the inaugural WPT Taiwan event to May 14 to 24, which will become our final event of Season XVIII counting towards Asia Pacific Player of the Year.
“We once again ask for your understanding of this decision, as we feel it is better to give players some surety as to our plans now.
“Assuming all going well, I hope to see many of you at our Season XVIII finale at CTP in Taiwan, an event that has been a long time coming to fruition and one I am looking forward to very much.”
WPT Vietnam canceled. WPT Taiwan postponed. pic.twitter.com/RQ149en5HP
— Cathy Zhao 媛媛 (@CathyZhaoyuan) February 14, 2020
Macau to Attempt Casino Reopening
As noted earlier in February, Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng took to television to announce the closure of 41 casinos for two weeks. The decision was a difficult one due to the massive financial impact on Macau, but coronavirus concerns prompted serious action.
Despite no significant reduction in the spread of the coronavirus in the past few weeks, Macau is sticking to its plan to reopen casinos on February 20. This was confirmed this week.
Macau's casinos will be able to resume operations on Thursday, after an unprecedented 15-day closure https://t.co/c0aX7efC4j
— Bloomberg (@business) February 17, 2020
Should the virus spread to casino workers or patrons in a prominent manner, this decision will surely be revisited.
Triton Series Still on Hold
The Triton Poker Super High Roller Series was also postponed. The decision came in January to postpone the first event of the 2020 season, which had been scheduled for February 10-22 in Jeju, South Korea. Organizers planned to have a follow-up announcement on February 10.
The latest update from Triton in February said that the team continues to monitor the situation but no dates have yet been confirmed for the South Korea high roller series.
They noted that the deaths in China and the spread of the coronavirus throughout Asia and the world prompted them to keep the situation on hold. If the disease spread “continues to worsen over the next several weeks, a decision to cancel Triton Jeju 2020 is a possibility.”
Triton Jeju 2020 dates will be planned in due course as the team continue to monitor the Coronavirus Outbreak. Any future updates will be posted immediately via our social channels and website.
— Triton Poker (@tritonpoker) February 10, 2020
Triton’s other stops in Montenegro in May and the UK in July/August will proceed as scheduled.
Asian Poker Tour Playing as Scheduled
Despite the WPT’s caution about hosting a tournament in Taiwan, the Asian Poker Tour made a different decision. It will run its APT Taiwan 2020 tournament at the Chinese Texas Hold’em Poker Club in Taipei City as planned.
The APT Taiwan will take place in partnership with Natural 8 Poker from March 4-15. The Main Event will start on March 6, offer two starting days, and wrap up on March 10.
The Asian Poker Tour (APT) has announced that its next event to be staged 4-15 March 2020 in Taipei, Taiwan will move forward.
— Asian Poker Tour (@AsianPokerTour) February 18, 2020