WPT Returns to Cambodia as Asia-Pacific’s Poker Boom Continues

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The World Poker Tour (WPT) is heading to Cambodia in July, marking the company’s first Main Tour Asia-Pacific stop in seven years.

The WPT will return to the Asia-Pacific region for the first time in seven years with a Main Tour event at Cambodia’s NagaWorld. (Image: Forward KH)

WPT Cambodia will run from July 15 to July 28, and feature 26 events.

As with all WPT Main Tour stops, the focal point of the festival will be a $3,500 championship event.

WPT Making Inroads in Asia-Pacific

Taking the Main Tour back to the Asia-Pacific region for the first time since Season XII is a testament to poker’s growth. The last time a WPT main event was in town, 137 entrants anted-up at South Korea’s Ramada Plaza Jeju.

Today, poker is not only more popular than it was, but more accessible in Asia-Pacific than ever before.

The catalyst for hosting a Main Tour festival in Cambodia was a 2019 WPT DeepStacks event. Taking place last November, the $1,100 tournament attracted 750 entrants. That level of interest confirmed that Cambodia, like other Asian countries, is now a viable poker destination.

To accommodate the traveling masses, WPT Cambodia will take place at NagaWorld. The integrated resort is the largest in Cambodia, and offers a mix of hotel suites and entertainment facilities.

Alongside the main event, there will be a selection of side tournaments on offer during the 14-day festival. Buy-ins will start at $200 and scale up to $15,000 for the Short Deck High Roller Championship.

Commenting on the event, WPT CEO Adam Pliska said Asia-Pacific continues to be a growing hotspot for poker.

“The breakthroughs made last November showed the poker world the magnificent NagaWorld and the passion of the network of players who flew from all corners of the globe to attend the record-breaking event,” Pliska said in a Feb. 24 press release.

The trends observed by WPT executives have been echoed by financial analysts. At the end of 2019, a report by Market Research Future highlighted the Asia-Pacific region as a driver for growth.

An Asia-Pacific Poker Boom

Analysts expect the continent to register the “highest compound annual growth rate (CAGR)” over the next five years.

An increase in mobile usage is cited as a contributing factor. However, a boots-on-the-ground movement is also having a positive effect.

Alongside the WPT, PokerStars, Triton, and Poker Central have all hosted events in Asia. In tandem with live tournaments, online poker is also gaining momentum in the region.

GGPoker, in particular, has a local Asian-Pacific fanbase and, more recently, a foothold in the European market.

WPT executives are aiming to capitalize on these positives when the tour heads to Cambodia in July. However, organizers will also have one eye on the new coronavirus.

The WPT has already canceled events in Asia because of the virus. Although it should be business as usual after May, there are no guarantees coronavirus will be under control by then.

Assuming all is well, however, the WPT Main Tour will return to the Asia-Pacific region in July 2020.

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