The online poker landscape is evolving quickly with private applications taking a growing share of the cash game market and Asian poker sites like Natural8 investing massively in expanding their tournament offerings.
In response to this increased competition, the market leaders PokerStars and partypoker have too keep innovating and double down on safety and trust.
The Asia Poker League Taiwan was wrapped up last week and we can already look forward to the next stop of this popular poker festival series.
If you are in Asia, most especially in the Philippines, the place to be for the next 11 days is the Metro Card Club. Most commonly known by the locals as the Metro, the standalone card room is the largest and most popular poker room in the country with over 30 tables. Due to their highly affordable events, the room has continuously attracted both locals and foreigners. Numerous Filipino pros got their start here and they continue to frequent the place. The chances of seeing local superstars Marc Rivera, Lester Edoc, and WSOP bracelet winner Mike Takayama are quite high.
Starting tomorrow, the house will ignite with the start of the annual Metro Summer Event. The festival runs from April 5 to 15. A wide variety of games is lined up including the top attraction, the P3,000,000 (~US$57,600) guaranteed Main Event.
J88Poker Tour wrapped up another successful festival at the CTP Club – Chinese Texas Hold’em Poker Association. The first edition in December 2018 – which so happened to be their first-ever live venture – saw a packed house everyday that this second edition was staged just a short three months after.
The festival ran for six days from March 29 to April 3. Players from all over Asia attended representing nations and regions: Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and of course Taiwan. The Main Event not only smashed the advertised guarantee but it also doubled up to NT$10,170,000 (US$330,000). Winning it was Taiwan’s own Chi Hang for NT$2,152,000 (US$69,000). Hang also claimed the highly coveted WSOP 2019 Main Event ticket and the J88PT championship bracelet.
It took over 8 hours of intense final table action for the J88Poker Tour Main Event to complete. When it did, it was local player Chi Hang reveling in all the glory. Chi spiked a lucky two-outer on the turn against Jin Ho Hong to capture NT$2,152,000 (~US$69,000), the J88PT champion’s golden bracelet, and a seat to the WSOP 2019 Main Event.
Final 9 recap
With the J88Poker Tour 2019 – Main Event – down to the Final 9 players, it’s time to give the side events a bit of attention. Four events have concluded after opening day. We’ve got those results for you below.
Deep Stack Turbo: CHIH YING LIANG
The Deep Stack Turbo drew 147 runners for a prize pool of NT$ 769,986 (~US$25,000). 20 players earned a piece of the pot with Chih Ying Liang claiming the biggest for his victory. Liang pocketed NT$184,896 (~US$6,000).
Justin Bonomo made history in 2018 with his incredible tournament run and a staggering $25 million in earnings over the year. Within just six months he had topped the All-Time Money List on The Hendon Mob.
His victory in the $1 million buy-in Big One For One Drop for $10 million aided him to surpass Daniel Negreanu in the All-Time Money Rankings and also took the crown from the “Young Prince” – as Joey Ingram likes to call him – Fedor Holz in what had been the best tournament run in poker history.
Two weeks ago Paul Phua went to trial in Macau and has now been “found innocent of all charges in a criminal case file against him years ago in Macau.” The news was distributed this week via a press release.
Just as it was the case in the U.S. trial, things basically fell apart and charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence. In the U.S. it was, because evidence had been obtained illegally and was so dismissed, in Macau “experts testified that his phone and computer records conclusively showed that he had not participated in taking any bets and had not cooperated with any betting ring.”
Like we said, despite Bryn Kenney entering the final day at the bottom of the rung, he was undoubtedly the biggest threat at the Aussie Millions Main Event. He was the most decorated and experienced player with over US$25 Million in live earnings, and he displayed it. After a grueling three-handed battle running over four hours, a deal was struck with Michael Del Vecchio and Andrew Hinrichsen to end the game abruptly. Kenney was granted the victory and now adds Australia to his impressive list of accomplishments.
Final 7 payouts
From a record-breaking 822 entries, the Aussie Millions 2019 Main Event has reached the final table rounded by the last remaining seven players. While each one is a force to reckon with, only one player will earn the title and the AU$1,850,000 (US$1.34M) top prize.
Here’s a brief review on each of the players:
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.