The Poker King Club (PKC) at StarWorld Macau regularly sees the kind of table action that could probably bankroll a small country’s economy. With top name pros lining up to take on its steady roster of Asian high-rollers, the club has been made famous for its Big Game where the table stakes are known to go as high as HKD $30,000/$60,000 (USD $3850/$7700).
The start of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas has culled the pro numbers of late and Tom Dwan is now the only top name still regularly sitting down at the PKC nosebleed table. He appears to be trying to squeeze every last drop out of the action there before heading over to the US for the WSOP. And with pots on offer like the USD $3.8 million one we reported on last month, why wouldn’t he?
But the PKC is also a place where us regular folk can go for game in Macau and who better to give us an inside look than its new Chief Operations Officer, AJ Brock. After previously running the poker room at Wynn Macau, the 35-year-old American is now charged with ramping up the club’s activities and giving its players a top-notch poker experience. Here’s what he had to say for himself…
So how has your new gig been going and what does your role entail there?
Poker King has been great so far. The staff has been very welcoming, and I have had a lot of players welcoming me and saying how nice it is to see me here now. I am COO and it is my job to oversee daily operations and to make sure guests of PKC get the best poker experience they can in Macau. I have great staff here and hopefully with me leading the charge we can create an even better poker environment at StarWorld.
Any changes to PKC since you’ve come on board?
Unfortunately, I had some work visa issues, nothing serious, just processing delays in late April through to mid-May, so I haven’t had quite the time I would have liked on the floor yet. But, since I have been back to PKC, the marketing team has put a few great promotions together. We have a great ‘Refer a friend’ promo where you can earn up to HKD $4500 for signing up a friend to our rewards program and playing in the room.
There is also a ‘Spin to Win’ promo going on where four times a day a lucky winner from every table gets to spin the wheel for cash and prizes. We just added a new twist to the wheel on June 1. Every day we add a sticker to the wheel which represents the high cash prize of HKD $1,000. We will continue to add a sticker a day until somebody hits one of the stickers at which point we take them all off and start over.
I am also working on a promo for PLO players. I can’t go too into details yet because it hasn’t been approved yet by the DICJ [Macau's gaming governing body] but I believe there is a good group of PLO players without a home here in Macau and I would like to make PKC their home.
Let’s also not forget Roberto Wong, previously at Pokerstars Macau, who is running our sit and gos on Friday and Saturday with HKD $550 and HKD $1100 buy-ins. These are great for anyone looking for a tournament experience and those who want to make the most out of HKD $550.
Do you have any big plans for PKC in the future?
Of course! I see big things in the future of PKC. Winfred Yu saw something in me and hired me to make this room a contender here in Macau. We already have the largest game in the world running almost every day with some top name pros. Now we want to build a great experience for the smaller and mid-limit games as well, and that will happen when players come into PKC and see the great atmosphere, good dealers and great service.
How has the new table cap relaxation in relation to poker affected your operations and how do you see it affecting poker in Macau overall?
I’m sorry, I can’t comment on that.
Do you get involved in overseeing the Big Game much?
The Big Game is Winfred’s baby and the players call him to let him know when they will play. Of course I am there to see but that’s about it.
Are there ever any disputes and you are asked for a ruling? Your decision could potentially cost someone millions of dollars right?
For the most part the players know the rules and work out most things on their own. Of course if I was asked to make a decision it could cost someone millions of dollars but that’s poker. As a floor manager you make the decision based on the rules and fairness of the game, and someone will be happy and someone won’t be.
What’s the biggest pot you’ve ever witnessed in the game? Can you talk about the hand?
Sorry I can’t be more helpful but the game usually starts just before or after I am leaving for the day so can’t really recall a hand or pot size.
We understand Tom Dwan is the only big name pro still playing in the Big Game at the moment… Will the game still be going when the WSOP is in full swing?
I don’t think there is a game in the world where Tom Dwan not being there would be a bad thing for the other players. Tom is one of the best players in the world, so without him there, as in show business, ‘The game must go on’. There will be a short hiatus around July 1 when a few of the players will go to play the USD $1 million One Drop event at the WSOP but as soon as they return it’s business as usual.
You’ve had some success on the tables yourself in tournament poker – winning the Resorts World Manila high-roller tourney last year – will we see you on the tables during APT Macau at StarWorld in July?
I can’t wait. Jeff Mann, Jason Morris and Lloyd Fontillas, as well as the entire APT crew put on a great tournament. I will probably play the Heads Up event if there is one as well as the Main Event. Win or lose, hopefully win, the APT tournaments are always a great experience.
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