“We started out of passion. We’re not professional players, we’re not in the top tier but we started by playing in-house games with friends. It was sort of a form of bonding for us friends. We started just playing very, very low stakes. Kumbaga piso, dos,just for the sake of playing with friends. That’s how we started. It was a social thing until down the line, during the pandemic, there was an opportunity. This (Masters Poker property) was for sale, the previous owner was one of our’s lola’s brother. So, they offered it up for sale, then we saw the opportunity and we took it. Pero back then, it was known as “Masters Poker.” We took the challenge,” Masters Poker Club’s Head of Marketing Gio Palacios and Business Director Josh So shares on how and why they started Masters Poker Club.
“How we do things is we try to get the best people we can, around us. And from there, we work things out. We asked around who could be a good manager which will be a good reference point kasi we’re doing this, young guys out of passion for the game and a good opportunity din. Kasi when we took this over in the middle of the pandemic, nobody was reinventing the game pa. So when we took over, we hire somebody, a tournament director for Asian Poker Tour, si Bobby. He was one of the pioneers, so everybody knew him. We came together on why we’re doing this, we saw it as a challenge. Because poker back in the day, parang malakas ‘yan, there were celebrity tours pero it died, There was one prominent leader in promoting poker but they stopped. So, we came in as an underdogs,” they continued.
The poker industry in the Philippines has a colorful history but it’s always been seen in a bad light because of gambling. But Masters Poker Club saw it as both recreational and a sport. Recreational because you can play it with friends and at the same time meet friends while playing with others, sports because the game has evolved. Poker isn’t just a game of luck but also of skills. And they’re advocating for people to see it that way and for more people to join in and develop their skills in playing the game.
And that’s where the collaboration between Masters Poker Club and Action PH happened.
“So, that’s why we worked with Dave (Erquiaga) kasi when they proposed, he was asking us for a monthly support just to carry their brand. At first, we invited him over and asked what’s their vision, what’s their idea of poker. And ‘yun nga, his idea was lined with us. Ang idea ko for poker is it should be shared with everybody. I think it’s a sport and I think that everybody can learn it and that’s what he’s trying to do. He’s doing the vlogs even without us. So we had the same direction. So from then, the partnership came and we fully support him with his projects,” Josh So shares on their partnership with Action PH.
What are the plans for Masters Poker Club?
So and Palacios answer, “down the line as we grow and build the sport and more players come, as we get bigger also, our goal is, we talked about this as partners, is to give back to the community. So, down the line, we want to start charity games that will cater to certain causes and we want to do that through our social media and through our livestreaming. Down the line, our big vision is to be able to give back to the community in different ways. And we also want to expand to different cities because we also want to help the local governments and see what we can do, and to cater to the area, of course. We want to make Masters Poker Club accessible kasi right now, yung mga players, they all have to come here to Malate to play. We’re trying to make poker open for everybody.”
For more information, you can check Masters Poker Club’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/MastersPoker