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Posts Tagged ‘van marcus’

Manila Mania

November 20th, 2008 Poker, Travel No Comments »

Manila is one crazy place. F-Train described it as the Mexico of Asia. Our first experience of Manila was leaving the airport and before the taxi had even reached the main road we had kids coming out the darkness and pelting rain to bang on our windows and beg for money. It was like something out of a horror movie with zombies on the loose in the streets!

“Lock the doors!” snapped the taxi driver. We quickly and quietly obliged.

Many locals warned us of the trouble that can find you in Manila. Every taxi driver warned us to lock the doors and told us stories of how the boots of taxis are pried open and bags stolen while the taxi sits still amongst the jam of traffic. It didn’t stop at the taxis. When we arrived at the hotel our taxi was met with a guy with a mirror who checked under the taxi for bombs before allowing it onto the premises. Glad they waited until the end of our taxi ride for that check! We then had to go through a metal detector (also found at all shopping malls) and bag check and finally we were inside our hotel!

Our first evening we found a lively little strip and ventured into a few bars. One was a karaoke bar with a couple of ladyboys as hosts. They were a little disturbing but welcoming with their witty one liners. “Welcome to Manila, home of kidnap and ransom!” they said as we found our seats. “Have you been kidnapped yet?”. Oh god.

Another night saw us venture to a bar called The Hobbit House where all of the staff were midgets! They had some live music and sold weird Obama paraphernalia which kept our American friends entertained.

The night before the final table saw us find another funky bar. We knew it was going to be fun night when we saw the sign on the door as we walked in…


With some live music, friendly locals and buckets of six beers for less than six bucks we were set for the evening. As we stumbled out at about 5:30am the whole night had cost us less than $40 for the entire group. As we headed back to the hotel, we were harassed by heaps of kids/locals begging us for money. Someone had the idea to buy some supplies from 7/11 and hand them out. So we stocked up on bananas, fruit juices and even donuts and walked the streets as the sun rose, handing out food and a little joy to the homeless and kids sleeping in the streets of Manila.

The APPT Manila event itself was well run and we grabbed a few hours sleep before the final table. Unfortunately the final table was sheer torture! 16 hours of limp-check-check-check-showdown poker. The three Koreans were nice and loose but didn’t seem to have the aggression to back it up. The talking point was the incredible luck of Van Marcus. A one-outer and two-outer on Day 2 saw him enter the final well placed and he carried that luck til the very end. He got his money in bad about six times and won every time. They weren’t even traditional races. He was either crushed, dominated or drawing and somehow managed to survive every time. As much as he was very lucky, he was extremely patient and determined to succeed – traits which are very admirable. He finally captured the trophy at around 4:30am and it was great to see him win and continue the incredible run of Australians on the international stage!

So our Manila venture came to an end, safe and sound. I’m not sure if I’ll rush back here again, but I will some fond memories of our time there.