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Interview with the Hong Kong Poker Players Association (HKPPA)

Hong Kong Poker Players Association HKPPA

We interviewed the Hong Kong Poker Players Association (HKPPA), a platform for poker players (mainly based in HK and Asia) to connect with each other. They provide updates on the poker scene and campaign for the rights for their members. The HKPPA is a registered society and limited company – check them out on Facebook.

Congratulations on your successful launch – how many members does HKPPA currently have?

We have around 300 members now, in less than 1 month. We target to have 1,000 members within 1 year.

There are so many talented players in Hong Kong, and HKPPA aims to make sure their achievements are well publicised.

Speaking of success, we heard you had quite a run in Macau in July – tell us about it!

During the PokerStars ACOP Platinum Series in July:

  • our vice chairman Alan Lau won Event 7 the $5,500 megastack
  • also in that event chairman Sparrow Cheung placed 3rd, and another member 6th
  • one member placed 10th in Event 2 the $1,000 deepstack PLO
  • Alan placed 5th in Event 3 the $3,300 NLH
  • four members cashed in the main event

Alan Lau HKPPA

Alan Lau defeats reigning Asia Player of the Year Pete Chen to win Event 7 – via @PokerStarsMacau

So tell us what’s your main goal in operating a poker school in Hong Kong?

Our main goal is to improve the poker knowledge and standard of players in Asia, becoming more competitive in the worldwide big poker tourneys.

We also wish to popularise poker in HK, as a mental sports hobby and a social activity among friends.

What’s the cost of tuition? Can non-HK persons join?

HKPPA is open for any nationality, same for our poker school.

Tuition costs are still under consideration and we will update the public once confirmed.

What languages are the classes in?

Our classes are basically in Cantonese. In addition, we have English and mandarin classes upon request when students gather and form a private class.

Do you have plans to expand elsewhere (e.g. Taiwan, Mainland China)?

Our base is in HK at this moment. However, we have special package and arrangement for students travelling from different countries to Hong Kong.

PokerStars Macau HKPPA

At PokerStars ACOP

What’s the perception of Poker in Hong Kong? How does that perception differ from Mahjong?

Mahjong is a Chinese traditional social activity in HK and poker is a new international social activity growing rapidly in HK during the past few years.

What percentage of HK people know about poker (estimate)?

In terms of demographics, we think a good proportion of people between the age of 18 and 50 know the rules of Texas Holdem, I guess that would account to about 10% of the population of Hongkong.

Aside from the school, what activities do you provide for members?

We are going to hold poker exams periodically before big tournaments in Macau, and stake the top 3 participants up to 50% in the coming tournament. The first poker exam will be held on 22 Aug.

We are also negotiating benefits for members such as freeroll satellite for tournament entries from poker organisation, extra award points from casinos, discounts in hotels and air/ferry tickets.

In addition, we provide most updated poker information including tournament schedules of major tournaments in Asia, Australia, Europe and the rest of the world.

Finally, we provide live reporting for members taking part in poker events around the world.

HKPPA At PokerStars Live Macau

The PokerStars Live room in Macau

What charities do you support?

We are planning to hold charity tourneys for some private groups. It’s still under negotiation and we will update the public once confirmed.

In your opinion – who is better at poker – the Chinese or Japanese? Any plans for competitions?

Poker started to become popular in Japan many years ago. However, since many Chinese started playing poker 3 years ago, they improved rapidly. I would say Japanese players overall are more experienced, but Chinese players have high potential nowadays which is unexpected.

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Are there any other topics or points you’d like to make?

We at HKPPA believe that poker is a game of skills as well as a social activity that can be played with or without money. Unlike table games that are mathematically unbeatable, poker is a peer-to-peer game, not unlike Mahjong, that requires a lot of time and effort to study. HKPPA aims to shorten this learning process.

Also, Hongkong faces the same problem in legality as other Asian countries. We believe one day, the poker will gain enough critical mass that the authority will have to take the game seriously. HKPPA will be the go-to place for both the general public, as well as the authority for impartial information about the game.

What’s your biggest fear in starting HKPPA?

Of course the first stage and fear in starting HKPPA is the number of members.

The outcome exceeded our expectation. We got over 200 members in a week and over 300 members within the first month.

How would you define success?

When HKPPA is known by most of the HK people, and when most of the poker players in HK joined HKPPA, and when HKPPA is known by all poker players in Asia, we succeed and are capable to provide wider range of services for our members.

HKPPA Winners Alan Lau

Alan pictured again at ACOP with chairman Sparrow Cheung and other members

How will your school differ from other big name poker schools (GrinderSchool, Deuces Cracked, etc)?

They are online coaching and we are live poker school.

With poker teacher ‘face to face’ coaching and answering any questions raised during the lesson, together with some live role plays for students, we expect our poker school more effective and valuable to the students.

Where did you get the idea for the HKPPA?

Many years ago, just after Macau started to have poker games, when there were not so many poker players in Hong Kong, our chairman Sparrow Cheung registered HKPPA as a society with a few poker players.

However, due to the lack of members at that time, HKPPA has been discontinued. 2 years ago, Sparrow Cheung opened a Facebook group ‘HK Poker Hand Discussion Station’.

Players started to recognise the importance of poker information gathering and technical discussion, Sparrow Cheung then gathered with our vice-chairmen Alan Lau and Jason Lo to start up HKPPA again, aiming to provide services for and enhance the competitiveness of poker players in Asia.

Tell us how you got started playing poker?

Similar story as most of the poker players, we started playing poker as a social activity for networking.

Then started winning money and eventually become a professional today.

HKPPA Badges

Modelling the HKKPA Apparel

No HK person has ever final-tabled the WSOP Main event – do you think HKPPA can change that?

Of course we have confidence in the poker players in Hong Kong.

With the help of HKPPA, poker players exchange information and improve their poker skills together.

We expect our members final tabling the WSOP main event is only a matter of time.

What percentage of HKPPA members are men?

Around 80% of our members are men. It’s a lower percentage than expected.

We can see the growing number of female poker players in recent years.

As you mention HKPPA is a platform for poker players across Asia as well as HK – what benefits could say an online grinder in Thailand (one of the most popular destinations for them) gain from joining?

They can gain from the discounts in hotels and air tickets in Asia we are bargaining for. They can also gain from the most updated poker information including tournament schedules of major tournaments we provide in planning their poker tour.

In addition, we are offering special package for foreigners travelling to HK for our poker courses.

Semi-related topic, how’s the live poker in Macau?

During the past 2 years, many Chinese start to know and play poker games. As a result, big casinos in Macau such as Wynn, Venetian and City of Dreams start their poker rooms in order to attract more Chinese to their casinos.

Wynn poker room mainly runs HKD25/50 to HKD100/200 NLH games. They sometimes hold PLO games and other bigger games such as HKD300/600, HKD500/1000 or higher. Wynn mainly targets for high stake players or players who love variance.

Venetian poker room is run by Pokerking Club. Similar to Wynn, it runs HKD25/50 to HKD100/200 NLH games. Venetian mainly targets for lower stake players who want to lower than variance.

City of Dreams poker room focuses more on tournaments held by PokerStars. It also runs HKD25/50 and HKD50/100 NLH games during the PokerStars monthly big tournaments. City of Dreams mainly target for tournament players.

Thanks HKPPA!

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