We arrived in Sihanoukville yesterday to attend the $3,000 Freeroll today at the Top-Pot Poker Club in the WM Casino. As I mentioned in my previous post, the poker room provided for us a free taxi and what has now turned into five free nights at a resort in Otres 1 Beach called the Sea Breeze. I have expressed my reservations about another poker room opening in Sihanoukville, but I also had some excitement over the potential such a room holds. I had a chance to meet with the poker room manager yesterday and we had a lengthy discussion regarding his vision for this new endeavor. What I came away with was what I can best call nervous excitement.
First off I should mention that all of the reports are true about the room. What they have managed to set up is very impressive. They have taken the entire second floor of the casino and are opening with eleven tables, three VIP rooms for games $10-$20 and above and a restaurant area where players can enjoy free food. They are issuing out VIP cards for players that will record their rakeback determined by how many hours they play. And today's freeroll for a guaranteed prize pool of $3,000 is just the first even in a whole series of events throughout the first two weeks, including a daily freeroll that guarantees $400 every day. They have various promotions planned and are providing for players just about every convenience imaginable, including rides back and forth to the poker room.
No matter how all of this turns out, this is a very ambitious undertaking. And I realized something else this morning; as soon as they flip on the switch today and officially open, Top-Pot will be the largest poker room in all of Cambodia. With eleven tables, not even Nagaworld approaches the number of tables and the amount of real estate that Top-Pot has managed to secure. From all this it seems clear to me what they are attempting. They are trying to move the epicenter of poker from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. While much of the action has moved here already since the migration of the Chinese, they are looking to complete this transition and set up Sihanoukville as THE poker destination in Cambodia. With partners within the WM Casino itself that will play in the games and groups coming in from Macau and other parts of China every month, the poker room is looking forward to spreading some great action games.
The biggest issue in Sihanoukville remains that of accommodations. Ever since the influx of the Chinese there have not been many available rentals and what remains has risen in price greatly. To this the poker room manager has informed me that they are working on the building of a facility that will house poker players. As I said, this undertaking is both aggressive and ambitious. I may have to start looking for accommodations myself as the new poker room shows great potential. A lot more will be known over the next few days, but if things go according to plan I may have to think about moving back here. That is something I thought I would never say and there would be some challenges to living in Sihanoukville again. But the group running the Top-Pot Poker Club is both highly motivated and organized. I have yet to see a poker room in Cambodia built out on this level and scale. For the moment I will say that it is something I would want to be a part of, even if just as a player.
Life in the Third World
Just a collection of random and not so random thoughts from my daily life here in Cambodia.