This summer was a hot one for poker tournament action, especially in China where 73 fierce competitors took to the tables in what became the 2nd largest buy-in poker tournament in the history of the game. I’m talking about the High Stakes Challenge in Macau, where each player posted HKD $2,000,000 (USD $257,854) to participate in the event.
The action took place at the StarWorld Hotel’s Poker King Club in Macau on Friday, August 31, 2012. All of the biggest names in the live and online poker world came together to compete, each posting the extreme buy-in. Names you should recognized include Phil Ivey, Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Erik Seidel, John Juanda, Joe Hachem, Johnny Chan, Sam Trickett, Gus Hansen and Igor Kurganov, just to name a few.
If 73 players paying over $250k USD wasn’t enough to develop an incredibly large prize pool, don’t forget to add in another chunk of change from the 21 players who busted out early and chose to re-buy into the tournament. Before all was said and done, the total prize pool added up to a whopping USD $23,511,128; or HKD $188 million.
In the end, Stanley Choi would prevail, taking down the enormous 1st place prize of $6,465,560, outlasting heads-up competitor Zhu Guan Fa, who walked away perfectly pleased to know he was nearly $4.35 million richer.
A few of the tournament’s universally recognized poker pros managed to take a few bucks home as well. 4-time WSOP bracelet winner John Juanda, with over $12million in career tournament winnings already, took the 5th place prize of $1.64 million. Sam Trickett – who made headlines after winning the 2nd place prize of $10 million in the WSOP Big One for One Drop earlier this year, then later that same night got jumped and beaten by a group of men in Las Vegas – fell short in 7th position at the Macau High Stakes Challenge for just under a million, $999,184. The illusive mentality of Phil Ivey, one of today’s highest earning poker pros in the world with more than $14.6m in live tournament winnings, managed to come in 8th position to swipe a nice profit of $822k.
Unfortunately for the rest of our big name favorites, like Tom “Durrrr” Dwan, Erik Seidel and Gus Hansen, there was no gold at the end of Macau’s rainbow.
It seems that the buy-ins for major poker events have just kept climbing and climbing to more excessive heights in recent months. The largest tournament in the history of poker occurred just a few months ago at the 43rd Annual World Series of Poker when they hosted the charity event, The Big One for One Drop.
The buy-in at the Big One was a staggering $1,000,000 per player, which, in turn, paid out the highest ever 1st place award of $18,346,673 to Antonio Esfandiari (2nd place $10,112,001 to Sam Trickett). The Macau High Stake Challenge required the second highest poker tournament buy-in in history, but neither holds the record for highest overall prize pool. That accolade goes to the 2006 WSOP Main Event, where Jamie Gold won the top prize of $12million out of a total prize pool worth an astounding $82,512,162.
Macau High Stakes Challenge Final Results
1st Stanley Choi – $6,465,560
2nd Zhu Guan Fa – $4,349,610
3rd Nicholas Wong – $3,291,506
4th Tang Zheng – $2,233,531
5th John Juanda – $1,645,753
6th Lap Key Chen – $1,234,347
7th Sam Trickett – $999,184
8th Phil Ivey – $822,941
9th Alan Sass – $705,360
10th Philipp Gruissem – $587,778
11th Di Dang – $587,778
12th J.P. Kelly – $587,778