Just a few years ago the first major poker tournament in the Philippines was held in a small card room at the corner of a mall. Little did the country know that this would be the start of a poker coup. And it certainly didn’t take long. With the help of televised games and passionate players, poker exploded and continues to grow in mass popularity.
Throughout the entire archipelago, there are close to 40 rooms dedicated to poker. In the island of Luzon alone there are at least 25 poker rooms, more than half of which are located in Metro Manila. So whether you are an avid tournament player or prefer ring games, there are more than enough ample choices to satisfy your daily poker needs.
As promised, here are the top five Philippine card rooms reviewed. They were chosen because they lead the way in the amount rake as reported to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) in the first quarter of 2011 so could be argued to be the most successful poker rooms in the country.
1. Metro Card Club (Ortigas)
Undoubtedly the pioneer of poker in the Philippines and host to the Filipino Poker Tour (FPT), the Metro Card Club (Metro) is the largest and most dynamic card room in the country. Open 24 hours daily, this 30 table facility is almost always full. And whatever your bankroll, it doesn’t seem to matter. Metro offers fast action tables with a wide variety of cash games from lower stakes of PHP10/20 and PHP25/50 to higher stakes of PHP50/100 and PHP100/200-500, as well as daily tournaments with guaranteed cash prizes ranging from PHP40,000 to PHP200,000.
However, one of the things that sets Metro apart from all the other card rooms is its continued rewarding of frequent patrons. Several times a year Metro hosts a PHP1 million guaranteed freeroll with hefty cash prizes and cars to the winners. These big incentives are a definite boost for all the hours one tends to accumulate flipping cards.
At Metro, the poker never stops so if you are looking for a game and can’t decide which one to choose, it will definitely have what you are looking for at any time of the day.
The Metro Card Club is located in Metrowalk Commercial Complex, Bldg C Bazaar Area, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Open 24 hours daily. For more information visit their website at www.metrocardclub.com or call 633-1422 or 633-6536.
2. Resorts World Manila
Despite the sprawling number of casinos scattered throughout Metro Manila, Resorts World Manila (RWM) has certainly become the chosen place to gamble. Located in Newport City, across the Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport 3 (NAIA 3), this casino resort offers nothing less than luxury. With its world class hotel, restaurants, events and facilities, it is of no surprise that big poker tournaments always happen at RWM. Early this year, RWM hosted one of the most prestigious international tournaments of the region, the Asian Poker Tour (APT).
This event, as well as many other high prized poker tournaments to come, makes RWM a place for poker players looking for aggressive high quality and high stake games. RWM offers daily cash tables starting at PHP25/50, PHP50/100 and PHP100/200, but is also known for its high-end PHP200/400 games on demand. Just get there early or your initial buy-in may not be enough to grind away until a seat opens up.
Resorts World Manila is located on Newport Boulevard, Newport City, Pasay. Open 24 hours daily. For more information call 836-6333 or visit their website at www.rwmanila.com.
3. Masters Poker Club
To get to this next poker room you’ll need to take a drive down Roxas Blvd alongside the magnificent Manila Bay and head towards Malate – an eclectic and lively town with a slew of dining and entertainment choices at every turn. Within the past few years, a number of card rooms have opened up in the area but the most successful and popular poker hangout is the Masters Poker Club. With its bi-level 18 table facility running 24 hours daily, you are always guaranteed a game.
Masters Poker Club offers a range of tables to choose from. Its most popular are the lower stakes tables of PHP10/20 PHP20/40 and PHP25/50, however they do offer higher stakes tables of PHP50/100. If what you prefer are tournaments, they’ve got that too. Every Sunday Masters Poker Club hosts a PHP15,000 guaranteed freeroll tournament, and on Tuesdays a PHP30,000 guaranteed tournament for an affordable PHP300 buy-in. One thing that certainly makes Masters Poker Club a unique card room is its laid back and fun surroundings. You are bound to run into the same faces and make some good friends from within the local poker community.
Masters Poker Club is located on 1856 J. Bocobo St, Malate. Open 24 hours daily. For more information call 567-3144.
4. Empire Poker Sports Club
Around the corner from Metro is the newest kid on the block, the Empire Poker Sports Club. Having just opened its doors in November 2010, Empire has already made its mark on the scene. With its 19 plush new tables ready to be broken in, poker players continue to flock in to see what the room has to offer. And they certainly have not been disappointed. Empire’s cozy environment and quality service, combined with its increasingly popular tables of PHP100/200 and PHP500/1000 is certainly making it the place for higher stakes poker.
But if you prefer tournament style poker, Empire also offers a daily PHP8,000 bounty tournament. In mid-March, Empire hosted its biggest tournament to date, the PHP 1 million guaranteed APT Experience. Its success catapulted Empire above some of the other veteran card rooms so if you are looking to play a higher stakes action game in a place that feels like home, Empire is definitely the place for you.
Empire Poker Sports Club is located in Ortigas Home Depot Complex, Julia Vargas Ave., Pasig City. Open daily from 12pm-6am. For more information, visit their website at http://empirepoker.com.ph or call 584-6200 or 0918-8EMPIRE.
5. Asia Poker Sports Club
If you are looking for a more high-end international flavour, Malate is also a hub for many upscale five-star hotels. One hotel that stands out for poker is the Pan Pacific Hotel. This is where you will find the Asia Poker Sports Club. Its nine-table facility, with its executive style office chairs, is popular amongst the hotel clientele and visitors to the area. The room opens at 5pm and as incentive to the early birds it offers a daily PHP100 buy-in bounty tournament at 5pm, and free chips when you play the low stakes tables of PHP10/20 PHP20/40 for at least one hour.
The most popular tables, however, are the PHP25/50 PHP50/100 ring games. If you desire even higher stakes, Asia Poker also offers PHP500/1000 tables upon request plus there is also free billiards available to play on world class tables. Because of its location, one thing that certainly sets Asia Poker from the rest of the rooms in Manila is its diversity of players. You may not see the same poker players every day, but you do get to a chance to play against many local and international visitors in an upscale environment.
Asia Poker Sports Club is located in the Pan Pacific Hotel, 5th floor Adriatico Square, Malvar cor. Adriatico Street, Malate. Open daily from 5pm-5am. For more information call 487-6438.
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