Stacked and loaded

Adelaide’s Stacked Social will play host to the Stacked Poker Championship from 28 January to 7 February 2022, featuring five events and a guaranteed $100,000 for the winner of the $2,200 buy-in Main Event. With organisers assuring PokerMedia Australia that the series will go ahead, it was decided this week that an extra Day 1 flight will be added to the Main Event to counter capacity limits currently imposed on South Australian hospitality venues.

PMA caught up with Stacked Social’s Managing Director Andrew Michael to find out more about the upcoming series.

PokerMedia Australia: Nice to talk to you Andrew. The Stacked Poker Championship is just around the corner, scheduled to run from 28 January to 7 February 2022. What can players expect from this series?

Andrew Michael: Our goal is to present one of the best tournaments on the Australian poker scene. We’ve designed generous tournament structures for this series including some fun and unique events such as our Terminator and PLO-5. 

PLO-5 has been really popular in the local Adelaide poker scene recently and the demand for this game has inspired us to add it to this tournament series. It’s not something you see on most tournament schedules so I think that’s something to look forward to. 

Our dealers are some of Adelaide’s very best croupiers and our front of house staff are all on board to deliver the best hospitality. Players are destined for a really fun week of poker.

PMA: You have buy-ins ranging from $350 up to the $2,200 main event. What players do you see as your primary target market?

AM: Our target audience is people just like us: passionate poker enthusiasts that just play for the love of the game. We have players from all walks of life come through the doors – some are pros that make their income from the game, but most are casual players that just enjoy a good time and love the vibe we’ve got going on here at Stacked. We’ve tried to cater for a range of different players with a variety of games and stakes being offered throughout the tournament so there’s something there for everyone.

PMA: The series was originally scheduled for November 2021 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak in NSW and Victoria. To what extent are you expecting interstate players to take part in the series?

AM: Interstate players are really important to us – we are putting ourselves on the Aussie poker map and want to be known as one of the unmissable destinations for players from all around the country. We’ve already had players from Perth, Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne show interest in the event and have just secured a partnership with Majestic M Hotels to provide discounted accommodation for all our interstate guests. The apartments are amazing and only a very short walk to our venue. The link for discounted accommodation is on our website.

PMA: Given the current climate how is the pandemic likely to affect the Poker Series?

AM: It important for me to transparent as to how we can still facilitate the series facing some of the toughest restrictions for hospitality in South Australia. We are currently subject to a density requirement of 1 per 4 square metres which means our venue can host approximately 60 patrons. So rather than postpone the series for the second time, like many other obstacles through this pandemic we will adapt to still offer the best experience for our players. 

We are still committing to the 100K GTD first prize for the Main Event and will now add a third Day 1 flight to the schedule to combat the limitation of only five poker tables in use. In addition, we are implementing the “Best Stack Forward” – players can enter any (and all) of the flights, moving to Day 2 with only the largest of the stacks they build.

Our foremost obligation is the health and safety of our players and staff. Extensive measures are being taken to ensure a high level of safety for all attending.

PMA: Of course, the big headline of the series if the GTD $100k first prize for the main event. That’s quite a commitment. What prompted you to add this guarantee and do you expect to have the main event buy-ins to cover it?

AM: We just wanted to challenge ourselves and aim big. When we started the business back in 2019 we told ourselves that we were going to lift the Australian poker scene up another level and offer the very best in terms of hospitality and ambience. Offering the $100k guarantee first prize is simply a testament to our belief in the product and service we are offering. 

Our inaugural main event back in May attracted 126 players and we expect to exceed this number with our 2022 event. As mentioned previously the interstate players are important to us so we really wanted to entice them to travel to our beautiful city and venue and offer a large guaranteed first prize.

PMA: I believe there will be a few familiar faces at the Stacked Poker Championship too?

AM: We’ll see Billy “The Croc” Argyros, who is our Event Ambassador join the tournament again and he always brings a crowd. I know that our 2021 Stacked Poker Champion, Michael Haddad, has already confirmed he’s keen to protect his title. We are expecting a few of the local AFL stars that might poke their head in for a night or two and we have our regular local players that will no doubt support the event – these guys have been our biggest advocates since day one and always ensure the games are running and everyone has a good time.

PMA: Stacked Poker has certainly been making some noise over the past 12 months. Can you tell us about the birth of Stacked Poker and the concept around it?

AM: As a poker player myself I had to travel a lot as there was no avenue for aspiring poker professionals to play in Adelaide. I decided to align myself with the best local poker enthusiasts where the idea of the Poker Lounge was born. 

We have definitely been making some noise over the last 12 months being host to some of the largest and most consistent cash games in Australia. We recently had Kahle Burns and many other notable poker pros at Stacked Social for the high stakes action. We play host to cash games every night from 7pm. Cash games will also run in conjunction with our series at the end of January.

PMA: What sets Stacked Poker apart from other operators in Adelaide and possibly elsewhere too?

AM: That’s got to be our hospitality. I know I have mentioned this several times, however as a player that used to travel a lot I thought this was an area of all poker rooms in Australia that was sub-par so I quickly identified that service, ambience and hospitality was integral to the concept of Stacked Social.

We have some really amazing girls running service and our group of dealers are professional and social. We have a great range of food and beverage with the atmosphere and charm of Las Vegas.

PMA: So what can players expect when they play at your venue?

AM: Players can expect exceptional table service with complimentary tea, coffee, juices and soft drinks while playing in any tournament or cash game. Players can also place orders direct from their seat – our delicious house cocktails are a big favourite amongst many of the players, while some prefer to sample our extensive range of cognac and whisky. Food-wise, you can choose from a wood oven pizza, a variety of delicious Hainanese options or a deliciously healthy “Fit Chef’ pre-made meal. We’ve got everybody covered. 

All the regulars are friendly and welcoming with plenty of banter at the tables. 

PMA: What is the long-term ambition for Stacked Poker?

AM: We really want to become the best destination for cash games in Australia and a premier host of two tournament series per year. In planning is a high roller event later in year to accompany our tournament series.

PMA: Finally Andrew, we’ve seen a number of poker clubs emerge in Adelaide in recent years, which suggests the game is growing pretty rapidly. What are your thoughts on the local poker scene?

AM: Our last poker series was a phenomenal success given the current climate, suggesting poker is still growing. We have formed an alliance, “SA Poker Team”, with the two other prominent poker clubs – Matchroom and the Southern Poker Tour.

This year we are working together to promote poker in South Australia and collectively activate a Player of the Year scheme and many other incentives to give back to our players. Our Facebook page “SA Poker Team” keeps all players up to date with everything happening in the local poker scene.

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