December is a time of year when Player of the Year titles are handed out, and champions are applauded. While some have links to certain tours, the GPI Player of the Year award spans almost all live events. The GPI is a well established and respected ranking system, and gives a clear reflection of the best players, either across the world, or within continents, such as Asia.
1st: Nipun Java – 2774.66 points
Born in India, but currently residing in the USA, Nipun actually started the year quite slowly, with no five figure scores until March. WPT Bay101 saw him take 4th place for USD$43,170, but it was another 3 months before he banked a major score, finishing runner up at an Omaha event at the WSOP for over $270,000. From there, he hit another 10 five figure scores through the year, gaining momentum in the final months, and claiming the GPI Asian Player of the Year award.
Nipun Java (photo Twitter)
2nd: Yingui Li – 2470.06 points
Chinese national, Yingui Li, has had a memorable year in terms of the 2015 Player of the Year race. Surprisingly, it wasn't until May, that Yingui notched a notable score, picking up USD$95,130 for 12th place in an EPT High Roller. Later in the year, he put together a run of four and five figure scores, in addition to USD$164,407 which he won when he took victory in the WPT National Paris Main Event.
Yingui Li (Photo Clubpoker.net)
3rd: Raiden Kan – 1863.94 points
Raiden Kan is a poker pro from Hong Kong, who was already well known on the Asian circuit before his excellent run of results in 2015. He started this year strongly, taking a 7th and a 10th place at the Aussie Millions, for USD$159,841. He put together a good run of four and five figure scores through the rest of the year, which was good enough to give him 3rd place in the Player of the Year standings.
Raiden Kan (Photo kenneth Lim Courtesy of PokerStars)
4th: Naoya Kihara – 1778.38 points
As one of the most recognisable poker pros from Japan, it is no surprise to see WSOP bracelet winner Naoya Kihara among the top names in the GPI Asian Player of the Year race. He began the year with a USD$27,700 cash at the PCA, and picked up two more small five figure scores in Los Angeles the following month. If he had continued such form, he may have won this title, but his results stalled a little. He did pick up two more good results towards the end of the year at the ACOP festival though, which was enough for 4th spot.
Naoya Kihara (Photo kenneth Lim Courtesy of PokerStars)
5th: Diwei “Bryan” Huang – 1774.51 points
Bryan Huang is an established professional player from Singapore, who has put together a very solid year of results, to finish 5th place in the Asian Player of the Year race. There were no huge scores this year for Bryan, but a regular supply of four figure scores, with a few five figure ones sprinkled in, is an excellent year by most standards.
Bryan Huang (Photo kenneth Lim Courtesy of PokerStars)
6th Ping Lin – 1542.00 points
Chinese national, Ping Lin, had a good year in 2015, mostly due to three scores in the low five figure range, picked up during tournaments in the USA.
7th Li Ta “Leon” Hsu – 1535.61 points
8th John Juanda – 1467.65 points
John Juanda needs no introduction, the 5 time WSOP bracelet winner has just 4 qualifying cashes this year. When your cashes include 1st in the EPT Barcelona Main Event, 2nd in an ACOP Super High Roller, and 8th in an EPT Super High Roller – That's more than enough to make the top 10.
9th Andrew Gaw – 1447.21 points
Andrew Gaw was born in the Philippines, and is an established regular on the Asian tournament circuit. In 2015, he has added another strong collection of results to his list of career accomplishments, including USD$109,000 for a 3rd place at the WSOP, and USD$25,475 for winning the APT Cebu High Roller. He picked up another USD$24,000 for 2nd place in the APT Finale Main Event.
10th Terry Fan – 1445.23 points
Taiwan national, Terry Fan, finished his year well, having not picked up any cashes in the first half of the year. The turning point came at the WSOP, where Terry took a 16th place and a 5th place, which brought in USD$130,000.
Article By Craig B.