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2015 ACOP: Not just fun and games (actually mostly fun and games)

The Asia Championship of Poker is the biggest and richest poker festival in the Far East and kicks off on October 30, 2015. Coming with the glory, fame, and life-changing prize money is an added level of stress you might not feel at other events. Clearly, the players have lots at stake but the moment isn't lost on the tournament staff either. Every decision on the floor gets reviewed under a microscope with an elevated state of importance.

The folks at PokerStars LIVE Macau know this.

So how do you maintain a cheerful and comfortable environment when people are playing a game with so much on the line?

With more fun and games!

If you haven't been to Macau for a PokerStars tournament before then you are forgiven for not noticing the away-from-the-tables activities that occur regularly during the special events. At this year's 2015 ACOP many of the old favourites make a return while a new game has been added.

Here's the totally unnecessary list of things that have nothing to do with poker.

Ever since PokerStars LIVE Macau moved to the City of Dreams Macau three years ago it's held a Hard Rock Poolside Party for during the ACOP. It's a gorgeous setting and perfect weather temperature for a region generally known for extreme heat. This year's Players Party will be held on November 11 at 10:30pm.

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There's plenty of things to enjoy at the Players Party.

Obviously there's endless food and bottomless drinks.

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Red Bull is the official energy drink provider for PokerStars LIVE Macau and besides providing your favourite mixer, they give you wings with some of the best DJs at the party.

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When the DJ needs a break, there's nothing like a live show. Okay, it took me a while to figure out she was playing an instrument and even longer to determine which instrument it was.

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Catching up with friends

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And of course, there's the...

PokerStars parties are not immune to the fashionably late. But last year, for the first time EVER, players arrived early in order to enter the Beer Pong Championship before the 16-team limit (2 per team) was sold out (it happened within 30 minutes of registration).

This is where I'm supposed to mention Jono (AKA Jonathan Karamalikis AKA Monster Dong). He really really REALLY wants you to know that he is the only person to make the Semi-Finals in both years.

I will now proceed to insert ACOP Beer Pong photos from years past as I, in parallel, tell short stories about Jono and this event.

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Jonathan Karamalikis at inaugural Beer Pong Championship

There are some ideas which are clear winners and some you question. When I looked at parties in Macau I noticed language being a major factor that split people into segregated groups. How do you engage people who want to interact with others but can't communicate with each other?

Enter beer pong. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea what the reception would be like.

So I'm having a drink one night with Jono and asking him if he's ever played beer pong. This is how I recall the conversation:

Me: Hey, you ever play beer pong?
Jono: Ya, I love it. Why?
Me: I'm going to organize a beer pong tournament.
Jono: Really? Where?
Me: At the Players Party.
Jono: (sits up, looks dumbfounded) You're having a beer pong tournament at the Players Party?
Me: yes
Jono: You are having a beer pong tournament at the PokerStars Players Party!?!?
Me: Yes

I quickly realized I wasted months of convincing Jono to come to Macau and commit to playing the 100k Main Event and 250k High Roller. I should have just had the above conversation to begin with.

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Liv Boeree at last year's Beer Pong competition

Every year, for the last three years, Jono sends me a series of instant messages asking me the following 3 questions (and in this order):

1. Is there beer pong?
2. Something about the high rollers and player incentives
3. More questions about beer pong and exact date and times

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Final Four from the 2014 ACOP Beer Pong Championship

So yeah, Jono made back-to-back semi-final appearances and I've been informed he has a new and improved partner to finally take down the title this year.

First, he'll have to dethrone the defending champs Luis Salter and Rory Brown (middle two, pictured above). In the true spirit of the competition, the winners gave one of their trophies to the runner-up duo of Team PokerStars Pro Vivian Im and her life partner Gabyong Kim.

When you have a 17-day poker festival you can't solely rely on the Players Party for a single night of stress-relieving fun.

Enter the Danny McDonagh Drunk Think Tank who will be inviting all ACOP players to his favourite local bar called Music World on November 8 at 10:30pm for the Dice Game and new Darts competition.

The 'dice game' - also commonly referred to as 'liar's dice' - is a game very familiar to anyone who has drank at a Chinese-speaking bar. Foreigners that are novices or are new to the game will have a distinct disadvantage as the game requires a combination of math and people-reading skills that aren't always obvious from the onset.

Unsurprisingly, these friendly female faces (pictured below) obliterated the male-dominated field in last year's Dice Game Championship.

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2014 ACOP Dice Game winners Jane Kwan & Jessica Ho

The inaugural ACOP Darts Championship kicks off this year in what could very well surpass the not-counting-Jono demand for beer pong. It's a hugely popular sport that no one ever talks about and it's actually kind of strange given darts has been a common pastime on the APPT for at least half a decade.


Oh, this is where I remind you that PokerStars urges everyone to drink responsibly.

The 2015 Asia Championship of Poker takes place at the 'PokerStars LIVE Macau' poker room from October 30 - November 15, 2015.

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