In the wake of PokerMedia Australia’s recent feature on the return of live poker throughout the nation, the Australian Poker Tour (APT) last night announced its first live series since February, with the 2020 APT Gold Coast series to take place from 4 to 6 September at Southport Sharks.
Featuring a schedule of 11 events, many of the APT’s most popular tournament formats will return, including the 6-Max Shot Clock High Roller, the Big Bounty and National Teams Event.
The APT Gold Coast Main Event is also changing up blind levels to 30 minutes in duration throughout the entire schedule, with satellites running on demand over the course of the three days.
PMA’s Landon Blackhall spoke with APT CEO David Miles about this highly-anticipated return.
Poker Media Australia: David, first off, congratulations on the announcement of the upcoming APT Gold Coast series. What has the reaction been like from your players, staff and affiliates?
David Miles: It’s been pretty good, actually! We’ve had over 8,000 views so far on the APTLive Facebook page, over a hundred shares to other outlets, and our event page already has 80 or 90 people saying that they’re attending, with another 200 people interested, so it’s caught the imagination of the public pretty quickly.
PMA: In the video, the overall prize pool is estimated at $300,000 total, as opposed to guaranteed which is completely understandable. Will there be any smaller events in the schedule that may have a guarantee?
DM: No, [guarantees] won’t be a factor at this stage – and I guess that’s because in the grand scheme of things, we just don’t know what’s going to happen.
That’s why the Gold Coast will be a really good test run for us, because if we’re able to get enough people playing in the Main Event, the side events will fill up as well.
I love it when anyone does well [with guarantees] over the series, whether it’s APT, WPT League or APL, because that means there’s people out there playing; lots of activity, which is good for everyone, but right now, it would be crazy to set guarantees like we have done in the past, because there’s so much pressure on operators to reach them.
That said, I think players will understand, especially given the state of the entire economy, unemployment rates and things like that.
It’s something we’ll have to constantly monitor and we’ll adjust our expectations and business model accordingly, but at least if we’re out there trying then something good will come out of it.
PMA: Although the full schedule isn’t being released until later this week, will the buy-ins be the same based on what was offered in Brisbane earlier this year?
DM: They’re going to be very similar, but there will be a slight increase in the buy-in for the Main Event, from $175 to $200, with the same rake ($175 + $25).
The structure will have 30-minute levels all the way through now, to not only make it a point of difference compared to other leagues, but also make it a bit more challenging for our players, so instead of maybe bringing back 300+ players on Day 2, it’s going to be around 200.
That will also give us the chance to utilise more dealers on Day 2; as soon as tables in the High Roller Events are broken down, we can then push those dealers over into the Main Event, adding more prestige to the tournament.
PMA: Depending on what’s happening with the lockdown laws in Queensland, are you expecting to be playing long-handed (i.e. more than six-handed) in tournaments like the Main Event?
DM: Yes. According to our discussions with league operators and the information we’ve received from COVID Safe, seating poker players at tables is not unlike seating restaurant patrons. The tables are required to be spaced out [at least] 1.5 metres apart, however, you can still have eight people sitting at a table, as long as you are still adhering to the square meterage guidelines.
For the Gold Coast Main Event, we’ll be capping each Day 1 flight at around 200 players, and we’ll encourage people to book their seat and buy-in ahead of time using the APT App. Once they arrive at the venue, they can check in using their unique QR code and get their table and seat allocation without having to line up at the registration desk.
PMA: Finally, even with the lockdown laws relaxed to a point where long-handed play is permitted by September, which seems likely based on current trends, will there still be increased hygiene and distancing measures enforced by the APT?
DM: For sure. Southport Sharks already have COVID Safe regulations in place, especially with contract tracing; all patrons are already required to register their contact information upon arrival and we’ll be in constant communication with them throughout the series.
When players come to the APT registration desk, we’ll be asking all the relevant questions in regards to health and well-being, taking temperature checks, offering masks and gloves to players who wish to use them, placing hand sanitiser stations throughout the room and reconfiguring our floor plan, which based on numbers from previous events there, will take it down from 50 to 40 tables.
Our people can rest assured that we will provide everyone a safe environment, give our players the confidence in playing live poker again and then at the end, we can all walk away knowing they’ve had a great time.
For more information, including the full 2020 APT Gold Coast schedule, log onto www.australianpokertour.com.au or search for APTLive on Facebook.