[Interview] Reiji Kono on his yearly Las Vegas visits


Online poker player from Japan, Reiji Kono, is back at the World Series of Poker for a third consecutive year. He made his foray into live tournament poker at the 2021 WSOP for his inaugural live series and cashed in five times. Although his results didn’t reach remarkable heights, Kono returned in 2022, and once again achieved five cashes, this time with a more lucrative return.

Screenshot 2023 07 04 183319
Photo credit: pokerGO

Fast forward to 2023, Kono secured his first major title at the World Poker Tour Prime Cambodia Main Event. He also earned his first six digit payout of USD 121,331. This summer, Kono has already cashed at two WSOP events. He advanced to Day 2 of the Main Event with 32 bb.

Flag: Japan
Type of player: Online and live cash game
Poker career: 7 years
Career: President of IT company and Online Poker pro
Major accomplishment: WPT Prime Cambodia Main Event
Largest live tournament cash: USD 121,331
Total live earnings per Hendon Mob: $301,898
WSOP career cashes: 12
Deepest WSOP run: 12th / 1,329 entries at 2022 WSOP $1K NLH Flip & Go
2023 WSOP Main Event: advanced to Day 2 with 32 bb

Kono Reiji WSOP 2023 EnriqueM EM14103
Photo credit: pokerGO


SMP: How many years have you been playing poker?

RK: I learned to play poker when I was 21. At the time, I was working and living in South Korea. I was exclusively a cash game player until I was 25, then I started playing tournaments. I am 28 now.

SMP: How many years have you been attending the WSOP?

RK: This year will be my third consecutive challenge. I started coming in 2021. I have always been an online poker player but I was interested in live poker. My friend invited me to the WSOP, it was my first ever live event, and I was able to go because everything else was closed due to the pandemic.

Compared to other Asian festivals, the scale is large. I mainly play tournaments of $1K-$3K buy in. Las Vegas has many of these buy in tournaments this time of year, even at other places. This year I’ve also cashed at Wynn, MGM Grand, and Venetian.

SMP: How long is your stay in Las Vegas this summer?

RK: Same as previous years, I am here for around 50 days.

SMP: Las Vegas is quite pricey, how is your bankroll funded?

RK: I use the prize money I’ve won from tournaments in Asia, earnings from online poker, and staking from Japanese teams such as JOPT (Japan Open Poker Tour), Myfriends, etc.. .

SMP: Are you bracelet hunting or prefer the cash games here in Las Vegas?

RK: In general, I play 90% online cash games and 10% online tournaments. For live, it is 50/50. Here, I use PokerAtlas to search for tournaments. If there is a good one, I will play. If not, I play cash games either at the WSOP Kings Room or at the Wynn. I play the $10/$20  or higher. There are many players, fairly safe game. I am usually profitable.

SMP: Did you come with a group this year or solo? 

RK: I came with a small group. My main staker is JOPT. They sent a film crew to video the part that is being staked. You can view it here.

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Tricia David

Tricia David has long experience as a recreational poker player and has been covering poker events since 2010 for numerous outfits in Asia. She spent one year working part time with Poker Portal Asia then became editor and lead writer for all event coverage of the Philippine Poker Tour (PPT). Under the PPT, she overlooked content for their website, and produced live updates on all their events. In addition, she served as the live and online events website content writer for the Asian Poker Tour. Currently, she does live events reporting in Asia for online news site Somuchpoker and is also one of their news contributors.

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