1. When and why did you start playing poker?
I started playing poker way back in 2007 after attending the press conference of the first APPT in Manila (I was a journalist then, working for a local newspaper). After that press conference, I got so interested that I made an account on PokerStars and started playing their play games every day. Then, after that, I won a freeroll satellite for the Filipino Poker Tour. Aside from the seat to the live tournament at the Metro Card Club, I also got a $5 real money credit on PokerStars. Using that bankroll, I played the 10-cent 360-man SNG and managed to grind it up to around $200. Then, after that, I finished second in a $1 buy-in MTT. That win earned me around $700 and also increased my interest in pursuing a career in poker. During that time, I was also playing cash games at the Metro Card Club. The breakthrough happened when I finished second in a P2-million guaranteed tournament in Cebu for PhP 365,000 around 40% of which I netted after giving my stakers and some friends their shares. After that big win, I quit my job as a sportswriter and focused on playing poker, which I still do now.
2. What is your favorite form of poker?
My favorite form of poker is the 6-max NLHE because it's more action-filled, and I always find a way to play a hand, no matter how marginal it is.
3. What is your greatest memory as a poker player?
My greatest memory as a poker player was that 2nd place finish in Cebu. I went there almost broke, and me and my friends had to beg from other players to buy our actions. I remember after finishing the tournament, I opted for the money I won to be transferred to my account at Metro, but I forgot that I didn't have enough money in my pocket to pay for a cab from the airport to my home, and I had to borrow some money from a neighbor.
4. What are your goals as a player for the upcoming years?
I’ve never won a big tournament. In fact, I don’t have a single trophy, so one of my immediate goals is to win one. Also, I'm looking to win big so I can play on my own (I'm currently backed online, and most of the time I sell big parts of my actions for big tourneys). I'm also looking to play in the WSOP.
My immediate goal? Winning a trophy!
5. It seems that there is a growing interest in poker in Manila. Can you tell us a bit more about the local poker scene?
Thanks to the arrival of Solaire, PokerStars CIty of Dreams, and recently the ASian Poker Tour Poker Room, the poker scene in Manila has become busy again with many well-structured and big-payout tourneys left and right almost all week long. It benefits the player because they get to choose where to play. Each card room has different selling points. For example, Metro is offering guarantees for the prizepools than the others, while APT is giving players "value for their money" by providing an excellent structure.
6. According to you, who is the most talented / impressive player on the Live Asian Poker Circuit?
I have been a long-time fan of Marc Rivera, who is considered by many to be the best Filipino poker player. He is the winningest local player and the most admired for keeping his feet on the ground despite his massive success. Another player who impresses me a lot is Lester Edoc. To me, he is the best tournament player on the circuit right now. Then there is Jojo Tech and Czardy Rivera, who are also consistently making waves. If you look at the common denominator of the three, they are all being mentored by Marc Rivera.
7. Money talk: What is your biggest win in a tournament? What is your biggest pot in a Cash game?
My biggest tourney score was when I finished third in the 3K buy-in turbo event in the Macau Poker Cup late last year for Hkd100k. We actually chopped 4-ways with Sam Nee, Justin Chan, and KC Wong, who won the extra 27K. I don’t play cash games much so I dont remember the biggest pot I’ve won, but I don't think I have won more than a Php 50k pot. Online, I have played more than 60k tournaments online, mostly low stakes, and overall I’m up by like $1 per game, but I’ve never had a massive score yet.
Read on Somuchpoker Ian brion's blog: Views From the rail