Interview: Japanese Poker Pro Iori Yogo

1. When did you start playing poker?

I started playing poker in 2002 during my university years in Canada, when some of my friends organized some home games. One year later Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event and poker started to became considerably more popular everywhere. Then I went back to Japan and kept playing poker, both Online and Live. In 2009 I was crushing a home game ($1/$3) and was winning 11 big blinds per hour, and so in 2010 I took the decision to turn pro. In general I’m quite conservative and it took me a long time to make this choice.

2. When did you decide to switch to playing live tournaments?

I started playing tournaments in 2013. Poker can offer you a lot of personal liberty, and I decided with some friends to travel to Australia. In February, I won a $550 6 max side event for $19,000 of the ANZPT Perth, then finished runner up in the Main Event for $74,332. It was the beginning of an extremely good year for me. In May I took 2nd place in the ANZPT Melbourne for $123,000 and managed to win the Western Classic Poker Championships later in September, in Perth. By the end of the year I was crowned ANZ Player Of The Year. I stopped playing online during this period. Now I am playing tournaments 75% of the time, and Cash games 25% of the time.

3. What are your goals for playing tournaments?

I am currently playing about 170-180 tournaments per year. I don’t really have a specific goal. Of course I would be very happy to top the APT Leader board or become the Asia Player of the year, but I understand a big part of it depends on luck, so if I don’t, I won’t be disappointed. When you are playing live tournaments around Asia like me, you need to be very aware of your expenses. This kind of lifestyle can be very costly.

Ioir Sam

Iori Yogo and Sam Razavi

4.Talking about the Global Poker Index, you are in the top 5 in Asia. Are you looking for sponsorship?

Regarding sponsorship, I think if you get it you’re a lucky guy. Opportunities are rare and PokerStars has already sponsored 2 Japanese players, so I wouldn’t get my hopes too high.

5.What are your impressions about the APT this time?

Well, this is my first time in Vietnam and I must say I’m very impressed with the way they managed and organised the game. The player party by the pool was impressive. I really like playing APT events because they offer the best structures anywhere. The changes implemented by the APT team this year are great. I don’t mind playing small or big fields, the most important things for me are the structures. PokerStars events are sometimes very turbo, especially considering the buy in.

6. Are you going to Vegas later this year?

Yes. After this APT event I’m going to Singapore to play some cash games at Sentosa, and then I will fly to Vegas to play the WSOP. I am planning to play the Main Event and several other events with a buy in between 1k and 3k. I will play No Limit Holdem, Omaha Hi , Omaha Hi Lo, and Stud events.

7. What are your opinions about the poker scene in Japan?

Poker has been a topic of discussion in Japan for many years, but progress has been slow. The poker clubs in Japan are currently operating in a gray area, offering Prizes or packages for live events to their winner. I don’t think that the casino bill which is currently in discussion will change anything with regards to the poker situation. For me, the two topics are completely unrelated.



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