2024 APT Jeju Main Event Becomes Biggest International Poker Tournament in South Korea


The final numbers are in for the flagship tournament of the 2024 APT Jeju Main Event. With a buy-in of KR₩ 2.5 Million (~USD 1,820), the tournament set the bar high from the onset with a guarantee of KR₩ 2 Billion (~USD 1.5 Million) and comfortably sailed past that figure.

APT Jeju
APT Jeju

With the four live flights at the Landing Casino completed and the three starting days on m main sponsor site Natural8 wrapped up weeks ago, players could still enter until the start of Day 2. Forty-six hopefuls did so to bring the overall tally to 1,089 entries, generating a prize pool of KR₩ 2,376,742,500 (~USD 1,726,125). This makes the return of the APT to the island of Jeju the biggest international poker tournament player turnout in South Korea history.

Some 397 players had qualified through the live heats for Day 2 and they were joined by the last minute editions in pursuit of the top 159 spots, all of which were guaranteed a cash prize. Not only did the money bubble burst but the field of hopefuls dropped all the way to just 96 contenders after ten levels of 60 minutes each.

Australia’s Aaron Lim became the last player to leave empty-handed as Japanese duo Junichi Nakagiri as well as Kenichi Takarabe split the min-cash of KR₩ 3,970,000 (~$2,880) when they were eliminated on separate tables during bubble play according to the APT live updates.

Ya Ke Lien at APT Jeju
Ya Ke Lien

After all was done and dusted, Ya Ke Lien topped the leaderboard with 1,484,000 in chips, very closely followed by Singapore’s Jun Hao Wu with 1,441,000. Wu was one of 15 players to qualify for the money stages in the online flights on Natural 8. Well-known Chinese poker pro Xixiang Luo occupied the third spot on the leaderboard with 1,359,000.

Other notables with big stacks include Yuhan Liu (1,135,000), Kyung Min Lee (881,000), Hon Cheong Lee (860,000), Christian Harder (795,000), Hiroyuki Noda (656,000), Phanlert Sukonthachartnant (640,000), Tom Verbruggen (630,000), Kannapong Thanarattrakul (597,000), and Sho Katsura (580,000).

Jeffrey Lo, former APT Main Event champion Dicky Tsang, Natural8 ambassador Yu Chung Chang as well as Wei Zhao also survived. Among those to cash but bust prior to bagging and tagging were the likes of Chi-Jen Chu, Ryo Shishido, Dong Chen, Park Yu Cheung, Asa Smith, Weiran Pu, Benjamin Jacobs, Bertrand Grospellier, Wing Po Liu, and Zong-Chi He.

Last player to fall on Day 2 was reigning APT Main Event champion Daisuke Ogita, who won the last APT Main Event in Taiwan in March 2023. Back then, the Tokyo-based player with more than $1.9 Million in cashes topped a field of 1,182 entries for a top prize of NT$ 12,944,020 (~USD 410,137).

Side Event Winners on Day 7

China took home another four titles to continue their dominance on the overall scoreboard for the festival. They were all first-time winners during the ongoing series with Jiageng Zhang, Lei Li, Junhai Han, and Qing Bo Gao all earning the APT golden lion trophy.

Lei Li at APT Jeju

Lei Li came out on top of Event #58 Single Day High Roller Big Bounty Winner Take All, which cost KR₩ 4 Million (~USD 2,911) to enter of which three quarters were reserved for the bounty portion. The event drew 53 entries and several players earned most of their buy-in back. Hao Zhang won four bounties but busted well before the final table while third-placed Batnyam Zayabaatar from Mogolia notched up five knockouts. Marc Rivera narrowly missed a third trophy during the second and finished in second place with three bounties while Li earned KR₩ 26,076,000 in cash and KR₩ 36,000,000 in bounties!

Another winner from Canada was crowned in Julian Cheung, who crushed the competition in Event #61 Hyper Turbo NL R-O-S-E in a bargain buy-in of KR₩ 300,000 (~USD 218). Four players cashed including Ziwen Liu and Cheung walked away with a top prize of KR₩ 2,904,160.

Many eyes were also set on Day 1 of Event #59 Zodiac Classic Sponsored by Natural8, which featured a buy-in of KR₩ 3 Million (~USD 2,183) and KR₩ 500 Million guarantee. There were 158 entries (136 unique) on Day 1 but the late registration is open until the start of level 11, two full levels into Day 2.

Some 98 players advanced and Xiang Yu Yu bagged up the most chips with 170,200, followed by fellow Chinese players Peng Chen (164,500) and Junjie He (164,300). Svetlana Aubakirova from Kazakhstan sits in fourth place with 153,000 while Daniel Lee (142,600) and Xuan Zhou (129,900) are also well-known names in the overnight top ten.

Alan “King Lun” Lau final-tabled this event during the last stop in Taiwan but has a lot of work ahead to repeat the same success, as his 48,200 puts him in the second half of the survivors alongside Asa Smith, Jinwoo Kim, Ben Lo, Aaron Lim, and Jingxiang Ong.

The tournament is set to play down to a winner on Friday, May 3, 2024. It will be another busy day at Jeju Shinha World with new tournaments such as Event #63 Double Stack and the Baby Superstar Challenge to kick off.


Gear up as APT Jeju 2024 heads your way this April 26 – May 5

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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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