Another booming year of poker has passed with many players rising to the top of the Asian live tournament scene. While there were many who lifted trophies and made headlines, these are our pick for the top 10 greatest Asian player achievements of 2016.
An incredible year for Korea’s Soojo Kim
Back in January, Korean pro SJ Kim kicked off his 2016 year with an immediate victory at the WPTN Philippines Poker King Cup US$50,000 Guaranteed opening event. Twelve months later, he took charge at the APT Finale Macau 2016, capturing two side events and the highlight Main Event championship title. Kim ended his incredible year with an impressive 11 titles including one of his single biggest live tournament payout of US$83,433. He also won the APT Regional Player of the Year for Korea.
Vietnam’s top pro Linh Tran continues to shine
Vietnam’s highest ranked pro, Linh Tran, was the envy of many after winning one of the biggest and most prestigious Asian tournaments of the year, the APPT 10 Manila Main Event. Tran overcame a field of 577 entries, and a fully loaded final table, to pocket the US$130,191 first prize, making this his largest single live score to date. Less than a week later, he claimed another trophy, winning his second APT High Rollers event of the year. Tran continues to lead the Vietnam All-Time Money List and the National GPI Vietnam ranking by a very wide margin.
Lester Edoc at home at the Metro Card Club
The Metro Card Club, the biggest poker room in the Philippines, holds several tournaments per year offering large returns for relatively small buy-ins. This usually generates massive fields with many local enthusiasts and local pros gunning for the top prize. This year, Filipino pro Lester Edoc, took down two of these events, outlasting a field of 664 entries at the P2M Guaranteed, and 640 entries at the Walk to a Million. Edoc brought home nearly US$20,000 for both events combined. In addition to his successful year, Edoc signed on with Poker King Club and currently leads the National GPI ranking for his country.
Christine Hia wins two rings at the WSOP Sydney
When the WSOP International Circuit made landfall at Sydney, Australia late last month, many Asian players were in attendance for the 21-day festivities. One Asian player who outshined at the tables was Christine Hia, winning two of the 11 ring events offered, the PLO/Hold’em Mixed Tournament and the PLO event. Hia collected over US$40,000 worth of winnings.
Xixiang Luo claims no.1 spot in the GPI Asia ranking
With many Chinese players now filling up the live tournament arena, several of them have had an excellent year racing up the GPI Asia charts. For Xixiang Luo, his numerous deep runs all year, combined with a few victories, sent his ranking straight to the top of the Asian ranking. Luo earned his highest points and biggest payouts at the APPT 10 Macau Poker Cup HKD80,000 High Roller event, placing 2nd and claiming US$196,552; he finished 5th at the APPT 10 Macau HKD100,000 No Limit Hold’em High Rollers event for US$98,760; and at the EPT 13 Malta, he took 8th at the Main Event for US$45,245.
Pete Yen Han Chen boasts over 50 Live Tournament earnings in 2016
Chinese Taipei’s Pete Yen Han Chen, the Asia Player of the Year 2014 champion, could possibly be adding another title to his name as the player with the most cashes worldwide this year. Currently, Chen has 51 live tournament ITMs and counting. While his biggest live score was back at the APPT Macau 2014, clearing US$74,170, this year’s largest win was US$20,108 at the Aussie Millions No Limit Hold’em Shot Clock Turbo for his 2nd place finish. Chen had a total of 5 five-digit payouts, which included a victory at the APPT 10 Melbourne AUS$550 No Limit Hold’em Freezeout event for a US$18,244 scoop.
Jack En Ching Wu wins Asia Player of the Year
Similar to last year’s competition, this year’s Asia Player of the Year race by PokerStars saw two players in a heated battle for the top spot, Jack En Ching Wu and Wayne Wei Yi Zhang. While Zhang led for a majority of the year, Wu stayed very close until he eventually overtook Wu at the APPT 10 Manila with his five deep finishes. His fantastic run continued at the Macau Poker Cup 25, securing his biggest live tournament score of US$118,622 at the HKD20,000 No Limit Hold’em event after defeating a field of 274 entrants. Wu ended the year with a total of five titles including a Main Event championship title at the ACOP Platinum Series XII.
Iori Yogo captures the APT Player of the Year 2016
Back in 2013, Japanese pro Iori Yogo was crowned the ANZ Player of the Year champion. Three years later, he achieved what no one could, he dethroned the quadruple Asian Poker Tour POY champion 2012-2015, UK’s Samad Razavi, to capture this year’s APT POY title. But it was no easy task. The exciting battle between them had been brewing since last year with Yogo finishing a close second to Razavi. This year, Razavi jumped out with the lead until Yogo overtook him in May. Since then, Yogo maintained his ranking, cashing in nearly all of the remaining APT festivals to finish with 8 APT titles and 34 cashes for a total of 4,207 points. Impressively, Razavi ended his year with 9 titles and 42 cashes but with 3,600.90 points accrued.
Elton Tsang claims the biggest prize of the year
This year witnessed Hong Kong pro Elton Tsang rise to victory at Guy La Liberte’s The Big One for One Drop charity event, defeating what could possibly be the smallest field with the largest first prize of the year. With the event strictly by invitation, and professionals excluded from the list, there were only 28 entries in total with each one ponying up the E1,000,000 buy-in fee for a monstrous prize pool of E24,888,892. Tsang claimed the largest piece of the pie, winning the E11,111,111 (US$12,188,889) first prize. Despite this being Tsang’s only recorded live payout of the year, it catapulted him straight to the top of the China All Time Money List.
Excellent WSOP run for Sparrow Cheung
The World Series of Poker is without a doubt the most prestigious annual poker event that players do not want to miss. With over 60 events to choose from, there is something for everyone. Making his way back to the WSOP this year was Hong Kong pro Sparrow Cheung who cashed in 9 events including a 6th place finish at the WSOP Online event for a US$46,201 payout. Prior to that, he placed 4th at the Deep Stack Extravaganza III held at the Venetian for US$9,025.
Article by Triccia David