2018 has come to a close and what an incredible year it was for players from the Asia-Pacific region. While there are many to acknowledge, here’s our list of top 10 player achievements for the year:
Michael Soyza tops Asia GPI ranking
Malaysian pro Michael Soyza turned up the notch this year accumulating over $2.65M in live tournament earnings and rising to top rank of the Asia GPI standings with 3,112,36 points. This also placed him 13th in the overall GPI ranking.
For those unfamiliar with this incredibly popular poker joint, it is the largest brick and mortar poker room in the country, and for many years, it was the largest in Asia. Many of today’s top Filipino pros started at the Metro including Mike Takayama, the first homegrown Filipino 2018 WSOP bracelet winner.
After a period of uncertainty, PokerStars have brought back the prestigious Red Dragon series, with the latest edition being hosted in Jeju, Korea. Events are already under way and winners have been crowned, but there is plenty more poker yet to be played. The series kicked off with the Baby Dragon event and will continue through to the conclusion of the Main Event on December 9th.
James Won Lee wins Baby Dragon
The ₩1,200,000 million (US$1,081) Baby Dragon event got the series rolling, with 298 players buying in, generating a prize pool of ₩312,900,000 (US$281,745). 32 players went on to reach the money and there was a strong Chinese contingent still in the running as the final table was assembled. Regardless, an opening event Chinese victory was not to be. The two surviving Taiwanese players, Chi Ying Tsai and Wei Cheng Yin put in creditable performances, taking 4th and 3rd place respectively, leaving China’s Dong Chen and James Won Lee to duel for the top prize. No deal was made and the players went head to head for the title. Lee rode his luck during the confrontation, winning a flip before rivering a wheel with a small ace when up against the AT of Chen. Once he had grabbed the initiative he kept pressing and was able to grind his opponent down and win his second career PokerStars Live title. Lee picked up ₩74,310,000 (US$66,911) for his win.
The end of the year is a busy one for poker players in the region. One of the ongoing festivals attracting players is the Asian Poker Tour’s last event of the season taking place in the Philippines.
The APT Finale 2018 is currently underway at Resorts World Manila. The festival runs from November 27 to December 6. Half of the games have already concluded including 3 of the 5 guaranteed events. The first featured tournament, the Main Event P10M guaranteed was won last night with Japan’s Mikiya Kudo defeating Korean pro Lim Yohwan at heads up.
Michael Soyza has enjoyed a close relationship with Natural 8 in recent years and has been seen wearing their logo on several occasions when lifting trophies and playing at the tables. While his affiliation was not official back then, it certainly is now. Natural 8 have announced that Michael Soyza is now part of their group of Team Hot ambassadors.
Team Natural 8
As the newest recruit, Soyza will not look at all out of place among the talented stars already assembled by Natural 8. He is the Malaysia and Asia GPI number 1 ranked player with over US$3,000,000 in live cashes and ranks 14th in the world in the GPI standings. He joins a roster of Natural 8 players which includes Kitty Kuo, Bryan Paris, Dong Kim and Henry Buhler.
Jack Sinclair banished the memory of an 8th place finish at the 2017 WSOP in the best way possible last night, winning the WSOPE Main Event for 1,122,239 Euros ($1,279,352). He outlasted a field of 534 players to claim his first career bracelet, besting a final table that included former WSOP Main Event winner, Ryan Riess.
A star-studded field
The event was a lengthy affair, with 6 days of play leading up to the final table. 7, if you count the two, day 1 starting flights. Many illustrious names descended on King’s Casino in Rozvadov, in the Czech Republic. By the end of the third day, many had fallen by the wayside, but one name really stood out. 2013 WSOP Main Event champion Ryan Riess led the chip counts, with over 4.2 million chips compared to his nearest challenger’s 2.4 million. Igor Kurganov and Sylvain Loosli, both familiar names on the WSOP circuit were also flying high, with two-time bracelet winner Norbert Szesci and Sergio Aido a little further down the order.
Excitement is building up at the Asian Poker Tour as they get ready for their last event of the season. The APT Finale Philippines 2018 takes place from November 27 to December 6 at Resorts World Manila with PHP 24 Million (~US$451,000) in guaranteed prizes. 19 trophy events are up for grabs with the Main Event and the Championships Event highlighting the series.
The penultimate day of the inaugural WPT Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City had a wide range of side action filling every seat at the Pro Poker Club. By the midnight cutoff, three titles were claimed and one bagging up with the final 9 remaining. We’ve got those stories for you below.
Dinh Xuan Dinh wins the High Roller event
Like we said in an earlier post, the WPT Vietnam High Roller event was one of the hottest tickets with 224 entries turning up over the two starting days. With each entry at VND 44,000,000, today’s 67 remaining players were welcomed in with a VND 8,691,200,000 (~US$372,250) prize pool of which 28 players would get a slice. Taking home the largest cut of VND 2,072,670,000 (~US$88,650) was Vietnam’s Dinh Xuan Dinh after he defeated Danny Tang at heads up.
With the WPT Vietnam Main Event now in the books, it’s time to catch up on the side event action. Currently running is the WPT – Pro Poker Superstack Classic. That’s a three-day event and by the size of the field, it looks like players will be seeing a very nice pot for that. Registration has now closed. We have the official numbers below along with results of all the other events that have concluded plus the WPT Asia Swing Player of the Year current standings.
WPT – Pro Poker Superstack Classic
Players returned today for Day 2 of the WPT – Pro Poker Superstack Classic with registration still open for another four rounds, approximately 2 hours. A steady stream of players were seen signing up to bring the total runners of this event to 195. With buy-in at VND 11,000,000, players are looking at a prize pool worth VND 1,891,500,000 (~US$80,930). The money will be reached today with 25 players paid. The eventual winner will receive VND 470,850,000 (~US$20,150). Today’s goal is to play down to the final 9 players then bag up for a night’s rest to complete the race tomorrow.
Tzai Wei Phua was one of the big winners of the recent APPT Manila.
We had the chance to talk with him after his victory in the Mega Stack Shot Clock Big Blind Ante, which earned him a Platinum Pass that will bring him to the Bahamas in January.
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Victorious Bridge & Poker Club is a legal poker club under the Bridge & Poker Vietnam Association, located in the District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City. It was established to bring professional tournaments to the poker community in Vietnam.
Victorious Poker regularly organizes several day events such as the “Victorious September Cup“.
Another highly attended PokerStars LIVE event stormed past with the 2018 European Poker Tour Barcelona attracting huge numbers from start to finish. Last night, the largest Main Event field in the stop’s history concluded with two players coming out as millionaires. Poland’s Piotr Nurzynski earned the title after defeating China’s Haoxiang Wang at heads up. Nurzynski pocketed the largest of €1,037,109 (~US$1,208,000) plus a PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship Platinum Pass worth US$30,000.
The €5,300 (~US$6,155) buy-in Main Event pulled in a record-breaking 1,931 total entries (1,474 players, 457 rebuys) for an enormous €9,365,350 (~US$10,907,500) prize pool. Prior to the final day, the weeklong event saw pieces of that large pot dished out with 296 players ensured a cut.
Undoubtedly, one of the most attractive Asian destinations for many poker enthusiasts is the Philippines. From the ample amount of events offered per year, to the hospitality, the vibrant Manila nightlife, and the stunning beaches just a short flight away, players are practically assured an enjoyable time both on and off the felt.
Coming September 13 to September 24, the country stirs up with the Asian Poker Tour returning to Resorts World Manila for the second edition of the APT Philippines Championships 2018. This highly popular festival is one not to miss with 22 events lined up and over PHP 20 Million in guaranteed prizes.
Phil Hellmuth’s woes when it comes to televised cash games are well documented, with a series of high profile losses and blow ups having been broadcast to the world. This has always been an oddity in his career however, especially when you consider his unrivalled success at the tournament tables and record haul of WSOP bracelets. Finally, this week, Hellmuth has found an upswing at the televised cash tables, banking $300,000 and a fantastic session on Poker After Dark.
During the two sessions that Hellmuth walked away from with profit, a crucial hand came up against Jean Robert Bellande, in which Hellmuth held pocket aces, and JRB somehow levelled himself into getting everything in with AJ. Hellmuth held up, and he was well on his way to a huge winning session.
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The Asia Poker League will once again visit China, bringing a third Chinese APL event to all the players who wish to be involved. The festival will span 8 days between August 14th and 22nd.
The event will be hosted by the Xi’an Baoyulin Poker Sporting Club and will include a Main Event tournament with a buy in of CNY5,500 (approx. US$800). The guarantee for the event is set at CNY 3,000,000.
Mikita Badziakouski goes back to back
Back to back Main Event titles in any live poker series is something most players only ever dream of, but for Mikita Badziakouski that dream has become a reality. Not only that, but he has accomplished his feat in a series that richly rewards its winners. The Triton Super High Roller Series crowned its new champion and handed him HKD$41,250,000 (USD5,255,456) this week, except of course, he wasn’t a new champion at all, having won the previous Triton Super High Roller Main Event in Montenegro just a few months ago. This event, held in Jeju, South Korea attracted 55 runners, many of them world-class high stakes pros, with each competitor paying HK$2,000,000 (US$256,420) to enter.
The final payouts for the Main Event are as follows:
Influenced by both Eastern and Western cultures, India has a huge history in many different card games (Gin, Bridge), and even created some of their own. In 2006, Teenpatti, a poker variant, started becoming popular in India, and many experts agree that India is the largest and fastest growing online gambling market in the world. Nowadays, close to a million Indians play real-money poker on a regular basis, even though uncertainty surrounding the legal landscape of the game remains. This gambling craze is particularly true during the times of festivals such as Deepawali and Holi, where the gambling business upgrades to 30-40% in India.