The Asian Poker Tour is a big deal. Since it’s debut in 2006 the APT has continued thrive, culminating in two fantastic 2008 events in Manila and Macau. This year promises to the tour’s biggest 12 months yet and the action has already started with APT Philippines. partypoker117.com’s Jeremy Coleman is the lucky man with the mission to give you all the news and stories from the event.

APT Philippines is now officially open for business. The location for what promises to be some thrilling poker is the impressive Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City, Manila. The hotel stands in the central business district of the city, surrounded by modern high rise buildings and huge shopping malls each the size of a small town.

First thing to complement is the staff in the Dusit Thani; surely the friendliest and most helpful people I have ever met. They never stop smiling. There are people scattered all around the large reception area who seem to be employed only to smile and bow politely at the guests.

Yesterday, after checking in to a very large and comfortable room and ignoring my body’s aching desire to catch up on the lost sleep caused by the screaming baby on my flight, I met up with the first players who had also just arrived.

Most of partypoker117.com’s 22 qualifiers won their prize packages online during December and January. Like me, they had to endure long flights from various European destinations as well as a few who travelled from Australia and New Zealand.

One notable exception was Alberto who only lives an hour away on the other side of Manila and came by car. Despite the fact he’s a local, Alberto is very excited to be at this event as it is his first time playing in such a large and prestigious event. Actually, that is the feeling shared by all the players, regardless of how much live poker-playing experience they may have. partypoker117.com players always seem to be the friendliest players on tour and this group of guys and one lady are no exception.

The Philippines itself is a country with a rich history, having been colonised previously by the Spanish and America. Now independent, it is a collection of more than 7,000 islands that make up the second largest archipelago in the world. Manila is a large and bustling city with a chaotic yet exotic mix of East meets West. Manila has a very oriental feel, yet all the signs are in English and English is the language spoken by almost everybody.

Some players were keen to enjoy themselves in Manila and sample everything this vibrant city offers while others needed that poker fix and headed straight for the cash game tables or the STTs that kicked off at 11am this morning. As I write this five hours later a few of them are still there and look set to be in for the long haul while others have moved on to sample the pool or spa.

Aside from the great poker action, the players have much to look forward to this week. There will be a welcome lunch tomorrow, a cocktail party in the evening and later in the week there’s the FHM magazine party with the chance to meet some of Asia’s most beautiful models.

This event starts at the same time as Chinese New Year so everywhere you look you can see big signs wishing you ‘Kong Hei Fat Choy’, or ‘Happy New Year’. Let’s hope it is a very happy new year for the partypoker117.com players as the week unfolds.

Jeremy will be covering APT Philippines for us all week so stay here as the action unfolds and the cards are dealt . Don’t forget to post your comments and questions.

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