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Poker in Manila

There is poker all around the world. I recently found myself in Manila, Philippines. I was very excited to check out the poker scene there. However, the information about what games run is very difficult to find on-line. There are several poker rooms listed, but none of them are on Bravo. Nor are they on Poker Atlas. Google searches seem to bring up rooms that no longer exist. There are casinos listed that do not have public games, but there is rumored to be private games running in a cigar lounge.

My recommendation is just go to Resorts World first. This poker room has the most games going and is the easiest to get to. Once you get there, the Philipino are very friendly and you can get the information on where the games are really going on. There is a large ex-pat community in the poker scene so they will be happy to get you acclimated.

What about the games? They were definitely better than the games in Las Vegas. The stakes were 50-100 PHP and sometimes 100-200 PHP. This is basically a $1-$2 game and a $2-$4 game in USD. The buy-ins are much deeper than Las Vegas though, so the games do play bigger.

There is not a lot of creativity in the games, I rarely saw a three-bet (other than my own) and the only four-bets I saw were AA. If you want to do better than this transparent four-bet range of exactly AA you can. The players were no bluffing nearly enough so the conventional wisdom from the western expat crowd was to “over-fold” and you will be fine. In my limited experience, they were right.

The games there very much reminded me of the Value-dominated WSOP games. People do not play to fold their hands, and only seem to bet with real values. This makes for a very straightforward, but easy game.

What also surprised me was that the stakes quickly started to seem much bigger than in the US. This was interesting to me because the average income in Manila is 25% of the average income in the US. So this same buy-in is four times “bigger” in Manila. This means most well-rolled westerners are going to be the “whales” at the table. Add in that the money matters 1/4th as much to us. It would be the equivalent of the small game in Las Vegas being a $1200 buy-in.

If that was the small game in the US, how do you think it would change the play of the game?

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