Genting Highlands Resort and Poker Dream – Poker in Malaysia

The upcoming Poker Dream 9, taking place from March 28 through April 8, 2024, at Genting Highlands (Resorts World), has announced the biggest guarantee in Asia, surpassing the WPT’s March 2024 1 Million USD guarantee in Cambodia and Asian Poker Tour’s Taiwan’s 65M TWD (approx 2.05MUSD) guarantee for the March APT Taiwan Main Event. Should you take the trip to Malaysia and play in April? Let’s take a look.

I was fortunate to attend Poker Dream 8 at Genting Highlands in January. My name is Maureen Bloechlinger and I am a self-proclaimed globetrotter and try to collect Hendon Mob flags from different countries. When I heard that Poker Dreams started hosting tournaments in 2023, I was very curious and when I saw that Rex Cheong, a former Tournament Director in Macau (who I knew when I used to play in Macau from 2012 to 2014) was CEO of Poker Dream, I knew immediately I would put Genting Highlands on my 2024 bucket list as with his team, I could trust that the tournaments be run at a high standard.

Grant Gardner and Rex Cheong

Preparation and arrival in Malaysia

After some googling, I found that Genting Highlands is an interactive resort in the Titiwangsa Mountains, only 110 km from the international airport in Kuala Lumpur. There are seven hotels, restaurants, and entertainment options – including an indoor amusement park! It is built at an elevation of 1800 m, so I didn’t know if I could reach it by car or if I needed to take a gondola. I was a bit overwhelmed by the information I found, but luckily, Poker Dream has a strong social media presence, and I found out through their facebook page, X profile, and instagram page that there were early bird packages available via their WhatsApp agent (+60 11-4059 9017).

The early bird packages are great value, offering between 10 – 25 % off hotel rates when you also pre-book your Main Event seat. Packages for the upcoming Poker Dream 9 can be booked here.

In January, I had the option of booking either the Highlands Hotel or First World Hotel. The Highlands Hotel is located directly above the tournament room, while the First World is a more price-savvy option and a 20-minute walk away from the poker venue. First World Hotel is the largest hotel in the world with 7,341 rooms, surpassing MGM Las Vegas 6,852 in number of hotel rooms and is a basic hotel located closer to the Sky Casino.

Based in Zurich, I had many flight options but chose to book flights via Singapore, as a visit to Singapore was long overdue, and I added some nights here before taking the 45-minute flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur is an amazing city with food and great shopping, so it is worth adding a couple of nights pre or post Poker Dream to explore.

Most travelers can enjoy visa-free entry into Malaysia, but all travelers need to fill out an online entry form 72 hours prior to arrival.

After clearing customs, I proceeded to the exit where the driver was waiting. I did try to exchange some USD for the local MYR currency, but they wouldn’t change over 500 USD, and the rate was quite bad, so I decided to wait and try my luck at the casino. Poker Dreams had arranged for a driver to pick me up at the airport. From the airport to the resort, it is about 110 km to reach Genting Highlands, which is built on top of a mountain. The ride is full of twists and turns but also offers views of the Kuala Lumpur skyline. My driver was quite entertaining and warned me that I better not visit Chin Swee Caves Temple as legend has it that those who visit the temple before the casino will have bad luck and I didn’t want that. After about a 2-hour drive, I arrived at Highlands Hotel.

The Venue and Playing Poker

Check-in was flawless since I pre-booked with Poker Dream and headed to my room. The room had floor-to-ceiling windows, but as you are in the clouds and it was already late at night, I couldn’t see much.

I followed the Poker Dream signage downstairs and headed to the second floor, where the tournament was located. I had signed up online for my Resorts World Casino card but then needed to go to a different area to pick up a physical card. Once I had my physical Genting Casino card and my Poker Dream card, I was ready to register for tournaments but still needed Ringgit for the buy-ins. The Poker Dream team exchanged my USD into the local currency at a great rate of 4.6, prior to this, I was being offered 4.2 at the airport and was capped at exchanging 500 USD which we know for poker players is not enough.

There were 40 tables and a full schedule of events with varying buying levels in January. For the upcoming Poker Dream 9, they have teamed up with Top Joy Poker Malaysia and have expanded to 80 poker tables and will also offer Short Deck and Omaha variants in addition to No Limit Hold’em.  

Poker Dream offers a multi-level buy-in structure for some events. This allows you to choose your buy-in and your level of chance to advance to Day 2. Those playing the Poker Dream Main Event can choose between 13 flights, and there is a  “Dream Bonus” for multiple qualifications. Payouts and starting stack vary according to the chart.

As cameras are not allowed in the poker tournament area, Poker Dream Host Grant Gardner is happy to send the camera crew your way to take pictures. Grant also commentates from the Final Tables and presents the winner’s trophies. It adds a layer of excitement to the event, and he speaks English.

Maureen and Grant

For cash game players, there are cash games available in the Sky Casino. Resorts World Genting is about a 20-minute walk through the complex. The cash game room is tucked away on the 3rd floor, and you need to have a casino red card to enter. If you don’t have one, you can inform Guest Services on the second floor, and they will grant you access to the third floor. In January, the game of choice was No Limit Hold’em 10/20 with a table ante, 1,000 min, and 4,000 max with a capped 150 rake.

If you are feeling generous as you leave Sky Casino, there are donation boxes for Chin Swee Caves Temple.

Between tournaments, there is plenty to explore at Genting Highlands, including The Skytroplois Indoor Theme Park, Genting Bowl, and the shopping complex.

As I had taken a car to the resort, I also rode the Awana Skyway one day to the Genting Premium Highland Outlets. The Skyway provided great views of the Kuala Lumpur skyline – but you need to be lucky and have a day without fog.

Summary

Poker Dream provides tournaments for both the recreational and High Roller players, and Genting Highlands is a unique mountain-top casino and entertainment complex with food options for all budgets. They have professionally trained dealers and floormen and adhere to TDA rules. The poker tournament is also smoke-free.

Malaysia is a great country to explore, and I booked my trip so that I could explore Kuala Lumpur. If you are going, be sure to secure tickets to the famous Petronas Towers as they sell out weeks before.

I will definitely be going back to Malaysia and Poker Dream.

In Memoriam
Wayne Beh 1982- 2024

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