On Thursday, the first ever World Poker Tour event held on Chinese soil kicked off with the start of Day 1A of WPT National China held at the MGM Grand Sanya on Hainan Island. The 265 entrants who sat down at the tables were whittled down to 95 remaining players who will return on Day 2.
Day 1B of the event gets underway today and will play host to the rest of the 500 players who make up the capped field for this tournament per government regulations.
Day 1A featured a number of notable poker players out in the field, including Johnny Chan, David Chui, and the most famous rockstar in China, Wang Feng. David Chui was quickly eliminated from the tournament but that did not stop him from enjoying his time around the tournament area. Wang Feng is not only a huge fan of poker, but also known to be a great poker player in his own right. Within the first 5 minutes of the day, he eliminated another player then went on a rush for a few hours. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it much past the dinner break, but as a testament to his popularity, most of the players were out of their seats crowding around his table to watch the outcome of his last hand.
After the tournament, there was a WPT dinner attended by many of Sanya’s governing bodies, including the Mayor and many other important public figures, along with poker players and celebrities like Wang Feng, Johnny Chan, David Chui and Phil Hellmuth. The reaction to the tournament among the local community is nothing but positive and the Mayor is huge poker fan and of Wang Feng, so she was asking for photos and making rounds around the room. The night was a huge success and the tournament received praise from the local authorities and participants alike.
For Day 1B, several more notable names will be in the field, including Phil Hellmuth – who was spotted playing Chinese poker out at the tables last night – and McLean Karr. Stay tuned here as we keep you posted on all of the action from MGM Grand Sanya and WPT National China.