Asian Poker Tour roars in 2023 season in Hanoi; Main Event underway; Mike Takayama, Phan Minh Duc, Dinh Duc Linh early big winners – February 3 to 12


The Asian Poker Tour is currently running its 2023 season opener at the Viet Nam Series Poker (VSOP) in Hanoi, Vietnam. As one of the most awaited events of the new year, it has been jam packed from the start. Among those getting in the early action were 2022 GPI National Philippines David Erquiaga, two-time APPT Main Event winner Aaron Lim, WPT Prime Cambodia Main Event champion Zarvan Tumboli, South Korean pro Steve Yea, and newly minted WPC Main Event champion Thang Ngoc Dao


The series opened on February 3 and runs through February 12. To date, twelve players have won trophies and four events have ripped past its guarantees. Pocketing heavy were WSOP bracelet champion Mike Takayama, Vietnam’s own Phan Minh Duc, Dinh Duc Linh, and China’s Yucheng Xiao. Based on the schedule there are still 21 events to conquer including the series headliner which is in progress.

Here are the highlights.

Main Event off to a great start

The VN₫ 10 Billion guaranteed MAIN EVENT has already completed two of its four starting heats with a combined 370 entries (Day 1A – 205, Day 1B – 170). Back from a lengthy lockdown was well known Chinese pro Xixiang Luo who bagged the Day 1A chip lead while India’s Prashant Bhutoria topped Day 1B. Other players making the cut were Russia’s Maxim Sorokin, Philippines’ Christopher Mateo, Vietnam’s Quang Nguyen, UK’s Tom Alner, William Kang, South Korea’s Seungmook Jung, and India’s Kunal Patni. With two more entry days yet to play out, it will no doubt crack the guarantee and possibly even surpass its Vietnam Main Event record of ₫14 BN set at last year’s APT Ho Chi Minh City. 

Guarantees crushed

Speaking of guarantees in the dust, the Kick Off event set the tumultuous pace. With buy in at VN₫ 8,800,000 (~$370), the VN₫ 1.5 Billion guarantee was immediately crushed by the 242 entries of Flight A, and with another 210 for the second flight, the prize pool closed at VN₫ 3,507,520,000 (~$147,315). 

APT Kickoff champion Phan Minh Duc

Out of the 61 players that reached the money, it was Vietnam’s Phan Minh Duc emerging triumphant for his maiden title and a career high VN₫ 520,520,000 (~$22,000). Phan also finished 4th at the Hyper Turbo 8-Max for another VN₫ 50.2M payout. Taking second was India’s Zarvan Tumboli and Filipino David Erquiaga finished third. 

Final table payouts (VN₫)

1 Phan Minh Duc Vietnam 520,520,000*
2 Zarvan Tumboli India 405,000,000*
3 David Erquiaga Philippines 499,010,000*
4 Do Duc Hieu Vietnam 245,880,000
5 Evgenii Chernyi Russia 192,820,000
6 German Bukharov Russia 151,070,000
7 Airidas Stazys Lithuania 113,570,000
8 Artem Utevskii Russia 80,660,000
9 Ngoc Anh Cao Vietnam 64,390,000

*Three way ICM deal


The next event extending a guarantee was the Mystery Bounty – sponsored by Natural8 – featuring a VN₫ 1.5 Billion (~$63,500) prize pool. This type of bounty event has captivated players worldwide and at the APT, it was no different. It pulled in 419 entries, each one contributing VN₫ 9.9 Million, to drive the pot over double to VN₫ 3,657,845,000 (~$154,895). Holding his head high above was Vietnam’s Dinh Duc Linh for his first ever APT win and a career high VN₫ 473,750,000 (~$20,210). Linh also collected a slew of bounties that included the VN₫ 293,900,000 top mystery prize. 


Adding plenty of excitement was the Superstar Invitational with heavyweights burning up the felt to create the richest side event pot. This was the most expensive tournament of the series. 34 players and 12 re-entries coughed up the VN₫ 107,000,000 (~$4,530) buy in to boost the pot from VN₫ 1.5 Billion to a huge VN₫ 4,462,000,000 (~$188,950). Among the players in attendance were Singapore’s Norbert Koh, Vietnam’s Dao Minh Phu, Teddy Pham, Mongolia’s Janag Battulga, and Philippines’ Lester Edoc. Intended to pay out the top six, the players agreed to adjust it for money back to 7th place. 

Clinching another APT high roller title was WSOP bracelet holder Mike Takayama (pictured above) from the Philippines. From the money round to finish, Takayama was never in danger of elimination. Instead, he knocked out the last five players to emerge as the series biggest winner to date, pocketing VN₫ 1,457,080,000 (~$61,700). Last year, Takayama became the first player in APT history to win two APT Player of the Series titles in the same year. 

Payouts (VN₫)

1 Mike Takayama Philippines 1,457,080,000*
2 Julien Tran Vietnam 998,570,000*
3 Nang Quang Nguyen Vietnam 669,300,000*
4 Jun Hao Wu Singapore 513,130,000*
5 Ngoc Dai Nguyen Vietnam 401,580,000*
6 Huu Dung Nguyen  Vietnam 312,340,000*
7 Yuhan Liu China 110,000,000*

*Adjusted to pay out 7 places


The Sunday Special was the fourth event to be highlighted by a guarantee with VN₫ 500 Million (~$21,170) on the table. With a cheap price tag of VN₫ 6,600,000 (~$280), it interested 285 to more than triple the pot to VN₫ 1,658,700,000 (~$70,240). At four handed, China’s Yucheng Xiao (pictured above) overcame an all Russian squad to seize the VN₫ 332,510,000 (~$14,080) and his first ever live title. 

Other highlights


Aside from the guarantee-crushing events, big pots were also generated at the high roller tournaments. One of South Korea’s emerging new players was Nam Hyung Kim who continued his success by besting a field of 15 runners at the Mixed NLH-PLO Single Day High Roller 8-Max for a payout of VN₫ 349,200,000 (~$14,780). Also running good were Russian players Evegenii Chernyi and German Bukharov, both players cashing out at three final tables. Hoang Hai Nguyen leads the number of cashes with four under his belt. 

APT Hanoi 2023 is ongoing until February 12. Stay tuned for final highlights. 

*All images by APT

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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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