Winfred Yu, as the President and CEO of the Poker King Club, has been one of the major movers and shakers at the heart of the poker explosion in Asia. In an exclusive new video, he talks to Paul Phua Poker about its mission in Asia.
Winfred Yu’s first Poker King Club opened eight years ago, at StarWorld in Macau, around the time players in the autonomous gambling hub in South China were just beginning to fall in love with the game. The club has since expanded to Manila in the Philippines, Jeju in South Korea, Halong Bay in Vietnam and Poipet in Cambodia, as the appetite for poker has exploded across the region.
Meanwhile, the Poker King Club Macau has made its new home in the Venetian, Las Vegas Sands’ stunning integrated resort on the Cotai Strip.
How Did the Poker King Club Come to Be?
Winfred Yu tells Paul Phua Poker that the Poker King Club began life as an offshoot of VIP junket Suncity. The junket’s decision to take a gamble on poker was a major departure from its core business of managing the ebb and flow of high stakes baccarat players into the gambling hub’s casinos. But Sun City decided to take a chance on the game, perhaps sensing that a poker boom was just around the corner.
The Poker King Club’s origins may have lain in offering VIP experiences for high-rollers, but it has evolved into a more inclusive operation. While it has been the home of the Big Game, where the high-rollers tussle with top pros for the biggest stakes in the world, it has also hosted many of Asia’s top tournaments and has worked tirelessly to promote the popularity of poker in the region. From day one, it’s been involved with major tour operators, from the APT to the WPT, and even hosts its own Poker King events in Manila.
You Don’t Have to Be a High Roller
But, ultimately, it’s about offering a spot of VIP treatment regardless of your budget, says Winfred Yu, who is himself a huge poker fan and a well-respected player on the Asian circuit.
“We try to help … to bring a new experience for those who play online at home and have a real feeling about walking into a big casino, having the real thing of a tournament, the taste of it,” he explains.
“A lot of casinos actually are very much looking down on poker players, they don’t have much given [to them] by the casinos. But we try to value everyone, not only the VIPs. So we try to bring the VIP service into the poker scene for poker players. Even poker players coming for a HK$5,000 buy in or as much as the HK$1m, HK$2m buy in, they will get the same service.”