A vibrant year of poker has just come and gone with poker brands continuously expanding and highly lucrative festivals running every month. For the avid tournament player, there certainly was never a lack of games to enjoy. Now that the 2017 season has concluded, many players can say they’ve had a fantastic year however there were several that clearly stood out for their accomplishments.
Here are our top 7 Greatest Asia-Pacific Player Achievements of 2017:
Alan Lau becomes the first two-time Asia Player of the Year champion
Hong Kong pro Alan King Lun Lau had a spectacular year on the felt becoming the first player to win the PokerStars Asia Player of the Year title for the second time. He first won it in 2015 by a small margin then seized it this year with an incredible list of stats that included major victories in two of the most prestigious PokerStars events in Asia.
In February, Lau reigned at the Red Dragon event, outlasting a field of 1,216 players for a huge payout of US$420,802. In late October he championed the Asia Championship of Poker (ACOP) Main Event and claimed his largest career score of US$692,066. Impressively, Lau is the only player to have won these two events in the same year.
At the start of 2017, Lau had accrued just over US$200K in total live earnings. For his outstanding performance this year, he catapulted to US$1.5 million and is now running 6th in Hong Kong’s All Time Money List.
Pete Chen claims his first major title and claims GPI Asia POY trophy
Chinese Taipei’s Pete Yen Han Chen recently said, “For me, playing tournaments is not just about money. I try to get a lot of media, try to get more famous I guess. I don’t want to be the second or third best in the world. I want to be the best.”
Although Chen is currently ranked 50th in the GPI 2017 rankings, he claimed the GPI Asia POY trophy.
Last year, Chen made our “Asia’s 10 Greatest Player Achievements of 2016” story for his extensive list of cashes. While this year he surpassed his previous number of payouts, his achievements included a few six-digit payouts. In April, Chen claimed his first major international title by winning the WPT Beijing Main Event. He earned US$299,485, the first ever six-figure score of his career.
Two months later, Chen ran well at the 2017 WSOP cashing in multiple events and nearly bringing home a bracelet. He placed 2nd out of 623 entries at Event #56: $5,000 No Limit Hold’em for an even larger payout of US$382,122. In August, he headed to Barcelona and finished 4th at the PokerStars Championship EU 10,300 No Limit Hold’em 8 Handed event for US$162,583.
Sparrow Cheung reaches $1M in earnings after another solid year
Not many players can boast of cashing every single month of the year but for Park Yu Cheung aka Sparrow this is his second time around. He did it last year and has done it again this year with an astounding 67 deep runs under his belt. For this passionate Hong Kong pro, it seems that as long as there’s a game happening, he will most likely be at the table.
Among his many payouts this year, Sparrow earned his first six-figures in February by winning the Macau Poker Cup HK$50,00 No Limit Hold’em event for US$126,503. This helped bring him closer to the million-dollar range, which he reached sometime in late July.
Just before the close of the year, Sparrow shipped in the biggest payday of his career worth US$185,052 by finishing 2nd out of 928 entries at the Suncity Cup 2017 HK$8 Million Guaranteed Event. Not one to rest on his laurels, Sparrow cashed in another five events after this and now has well over US$1.2M in total live earnings.
Satellite winner Shurane Vijayaram wins Aussie Millions Main Event after hero call
Every January the richest season-opener of the Southern hemisphere takes place with players from all over the world flocking to the Crown Melbourne for the Aussie Millions. This year, amidst many international pros in attendance at the Main Event including several at the final table, stealing the spotlight with his incredible performance was Shurane Vijayaram, a local pub poker player.
Alike many recreational players looking to get in for cheap, Vijayaram won his seat to the AUS$10,600 Main Event through a AU$130 satellite. Days later, he was on top of a large heap of money after besting a field of 725 to ship in the massive AU$1,600,000 (US$1,208,368) first prize.
While we’ve heard of many rags-to-riches stories before, Vijayaram’s victory was deservedly one for the history books. The final hand saw VIjayaram make an unbelievably insane hero call against England’s Ben Heath to expose the pro’s bluff and capture the title. With no prior stats in Hendon Mob, this great achievement got Vijayaram on the board with his huge seven figure earning.
James Obst wins his first WSOP bracelet
For the past few years, Australia’s James Obst has been a frequent flyer at the WSOP, and on each successive year, his performance has only gotten better and better. Last year saw Obst cash in 8 events, which included a runner-up berth at the US$10,000 HORSE Championship. Although he finished high in the WSOP POY with a 4th place berth, he still missed that elusive gold bracelet.
This year, Obst got on the WSOP board early in the series and nearly won the gold at the US$2,500 Limit Mixed Triple Draw Lowball event finishing 2nd out of 225 entries. Two events later, his crowning glory finally arrived. Obst landed his first-ever WSOP gold bracelet at the US$10,000 Razz Championship Event. He topped the 97-player field and earned the US$265,138 first place cash.
Although his victory was something to celebrate, Obst didn’t let it consume him. Instead, he immediately focused on the rest of the events on his hit list. After it all wrapped up, Obst got paid in 9 WSOP events and collected over US$500K in earnings.
John Tech takes down the 2017 Hope Cup for over HK$3M
In early August, Filipino poker pro John Tech took down the biggest event of his career after winning the MBP Summer Showdown Hope Cup Main Event. This tournament was by far the most ambitious event held by Macau Billionaire Poker with an advertised guarantee of HK$20 million. With the event drawing in a massive 826 total entries, the prize pool was much richer, and in turn, so was the champion. Tech earned nearly US$400K making this his first six figure score and largest payout to date.
Ever since Tech’s emergence into the live circuit in 2009, he has been a well-known figure in the Philippine poker community. Prior to this success, his best year was in 2015 with a few five-digit payouts totaling US$150K. Although he went on a major title slump in 2016, he made it up and more this year. His MBP victory instantly sent him up to 2nd rank in the Philippine All Time Money List with over a million in total live earnings.
Tetsuya Tsuchikawa wins APT POY after strong performance in the APT Circuit
Since the induction of the APT Player of the Year program in 2012, Japanese pro Tetsuya Tsuchikawa has consistently ranked high in the leaderboard. Though this could have been easily overlooked with Samad Razavi dominating the charts for the first four consecutive years. Even last year, Tsuchikawa continued to stay in the upper tier, finishing in a respectable 4th place while Iori Yogo took the title.
This year however, his efforts and dedication to the Asian Poker Tour finally earned him the high recognition. With his 25 ITMs, which included 7 victories, he dominated the APT POY charts and captured the prestigious title. Additionally, he earned three APT Player of the series trophies during the season. Tsuchikawa’s largest payout was at the APT Championships Macau event with his 4th place finish for US$19,909. He amassed roughly US$77,000 at the APT this year.
Special mention: Lloyd Fontillas wins the Vietnam National Poker Cup
People working in the poker industry are on the vast majority some of the most passionate poker players, and once in a while, when their schedule allows it, they do find time to get on the felt.
At the close of the Asian Poker Tour 2017 season, Executive Tournament Director Lloyd Fontillas made his way to Vietnam and while there, he entered the Vietnam National Poker Cup Main Event. Despite having spent very minimal amount of time on the felt all year, Fontillas outlasted the 346-entry field and won the US$26,297 (VD 600,000,000) first prize.
Article by Triccia David