APPT Manila: over US$ 2.6 Million paid out; Xin Hua Lai wins the Main Event; James Mendoza walks away as the biggest earner; full festival highlights inside


Last July 29 to August 7, PokerStars LIVE produced the biggest event in the Philippines since the pandemic, the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), at their hub in Okada Manila. Over the ten days, players flocked into the bustling capital city. Among the largest contingents were from South Korea, Singapore, Japan, India, and the host country. In the aftermath, 26 trophies were claimed and over US$ 2.6 Million was paid out. Singapore‘s Xin Hua Lai locked up the coveted Main Event title, PhilippinesJames Mendoza walked away the richest, and two players bagged two events – Tom Orpaz (Israel) and Sangbeom Lim (South Korea).

Also seen in action were players returning from this year’s World Series of Poker. Newly minted bracelet winner Jinho Hong (Korea), bracelet champions India’s Kartik Ved, Abhinav Iyer, and notable players Yohwan Lim aka BoxeR (Korea) and Japan’s Tamon Nakamura.  

We’ve got those stories and more. All pics courtesy of PokerStars LIVE Manila


Festival wrap (satellites not included)

Trophy events: 26
Festival prize pool: 146,230,514 (~US$ 2,636,400)
Total entries: 3,536
Flags: 40
Main Event champion: Xin Hua Lai (Singapore) – 5,973,000 (~US$ 107,280)
Multi winners: Tom Orpaz (Israel) and Sangbeom Lim (South Korea)
Biggest earner: James Mendoza (Philippines) – 7,842,000 (~US$ 141,384)
Trophy count: Philippines (8), South Korea (6) India (4), Israel (2), Germany (1), Japan (1), Hong Kong (1), Canada (1), USA (1), Singapore (1)

Singapore’s Xin Hua Lai wins the Main Event for ₱ 5,973,000 (~US$ 107,280)

Unknown player Xin Hua Lai from Singapore emerged from obscurity after he shipped the most desired title of APPT Manila. Lai outflipped fellow countryman Dhanesh Chainani and Dutch pro Thijs Hilberts at three-handed. This was Lai’s second ever live tournament payout and first ever win. It was also the only event claimed by Singapore. 


As for runner up Hilberts, it was another fantastic yet bittersweet result. In the previous series, Hilberts also missed the title by one spot. However, he can take comfort here in having earned the largest payout of the three-way deal. Third placer Singaporean Dhanesh Chainani made his first appearance in the live scene since the pandemic and he came out glorious. In addition to pocketing over ₱ 5.4M, Chainani also took 3rd at the ₱ 25K NLH Super Deep for an extra ₱ 522,100. Among the other finalists was Philippines’ Jason Kyle Magbanua who has been on a rush with back to back local Main Event wins in late-June and early July. He finished 9th for ₱ 658,745. 

The Main Event saw a massive turnout of 801 entrants to more than double the prize pool to a lucrative ₱ 45,452,745 (US$ 819,470). Among the players that reached the money outside of the final table were WSOP bracelet champions Abhinav Iyer (37th), Mike Takayama (71st), and Jinho Hong (84th). Other notable cashers were Ashish Munot (20th), Yohwan Lim (98th), and Martijn Gerrits (118th). 

With a big field that also meant a huge fallout. Among those missing the mark were defending champion Florencio Campomanes, Seungmook Jung, Lester Edoc, and busting on the bubble was UK’s William Kang


Date: August 4 to 7
Buy in: 65,000 (~US$ 1,172)
Guarantee: 20,000,000 (~US$ 360,580)
Entries: 801
Prize pool: 45,452,745 (US$ 819,470)
ITM: 119 places

Final table payouts

1st Xin Hua Lai Singapore ₱ 5,973,000*
2nd Thijs Hilberts Netherlands ₱ 6,071,000*
3rd Dhanesh Chainani Singapore ₱ 5,409,000*
4th Feng Zhao Singapore ₱ 2,780,000
5th Seina Asagiri Japan ₱ 2,197,000
6th Wonchul Bae South Korea ₱ 1,654,000
7th Kim Michael Enriquez Philippines ₱ 1,184,000
8th Woosok Hong South Korea ₱ 827,000
9th Jason Kyle Magbanua Philippines ₱ 658,745

*Three way deal

Junya Kubo wins APPT National for ₱ 2,465,000 (~US$ 44,440)

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The APPT National was another highly coveted title and after four days of competition that ran from July 31 to August 3, the glory went to Japan’s Junya Kubo for his first ever APPT win. Kubo is one of the fastest rising players from his country. He emerged into the live scene in January 2019 and since then has been tearing up the felt around Asia. To date, he has six wins which includes the recent victory in Manila at the APPT National. The event was one of the most popular in the lineup, drawing 407 entries to drive the prize pool 2.5 times the guarantee. For his victory, Kubo pocketed 2,465,000 (~US$ 44,440), his largest ever career win. 

In addition to Kubo, other final table players running consistently were Philippines’ Edgar Asehan and India’s Deepak Bothra. Asehan recently placed 2nd at one of the richest local tournaments and Bothra took 3rd at a major event in Vietnam


Date: July 31 to August 3
Buy in: 35,000 (~US$ 630)
Guarantee: 5,000,000 (~US$ 90,145)
Entries: 407
Prize pool: 12,435,885 (US$ 224,207)
ITM: 55 places

Final table payouts

1st Junya Kubo Japan ₱ 2,465,000
2nd Daniel Benor Israel ₱ 1,520,000
3rd Noel Regencia Philippines ₱ 1,100,000
4th Laksh Pal Singh India ₱ 890,000
5th Joseph Sia Philippines ₱ 704,000
6th Edgar Asehan Philippines ₱ 542,000
7th Shota Hayama Japan ₱ 403,300
8th Deepak Bothra India ₱ 292,000
9th Mai Bien Vietnam ₱ 236,085

APPT Manila Opener cracks guarantee by three times; Lung Wai Tang ships it

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The festival opened with a huge bang with the APPT Manila Opener obliterating the guarantee. Coming in, players were looking at a 3M guarantee but after a hurricane of 583 entries ponying up the 20K buy in, it ballooned to a massive 10,179,180 (US$ 183,520) prize pool. Walking away pocketing a piece of the pot were the top 89 places. The event saw a star-studded final table, with the likes of Mike Takayama, Feng Zhao, John Tech, and Ashish Munot vying for the first title. In the end, it was an unknown player from Hong Kong, Lung Wai Tang, who banked the 1,976,000 (~US$ 35,730) first prize. Prior to the win, Tang only had one cash listed on The Hendon Mob amounting to ~US$ 208 making this victory even more impressive. 

Date: July 29 to 31
Buy in: 20,000 (~US$ 360)
Guarantee: 3,000,000 (~US$ 54,100)
Entries: 583
Prize pool: 10,179,180 (US$ 183,520)
ITM: 89 places

Final table payouts

1st Lung Wai Tang Hong Kong ₱ 1,976,000
2nd Conrad Lumaban Philippines ₱ 1,200,000
3rd Feng Zhao Singapore ₱ 860,000
4th John Tech Philippines ₱ 665,000
5th Joseroy Jeremias Jr Philippines ₱ 524,000
6th Mike Takayama Philippines ₱ 410,000
7th Duy Tung Nguyen Vietnam ₱ 300,000
8th Ankit Wadhawan India ₱ 205,000
9th Ashish Munot India ₱ 163,180

Filipino player James Mendoza emerges as the biggest earner

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Filipino player James Mendoza walked away the richest, collecting a total of 7,842,000 (US$ 141,380) across three cashes. His first payout was a decent 113,000 for 12th place at the APPT Kickoff event. He then followed it up with two monster scores. Mendoza bagged the No Limit Hold’em Super High Roller for the single largest festival takedown of ₱ 6,206,000. This was also his biggest career win. Three days later, he carried the winning momentum to the APPT High Roller and finished 4th for another ₱ 1,523,000 added to his winnings. 

Event 36: ₱250K APPT High Roller NLH – KITSON KHO – ₱ 4,309,000 (~US$ 77,687)

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On the final day of the festival Philippine player Kitson Kho emerged another big winner with a massive triumph at the APPT High Roller ₱250K buy in event. Attracting a field of 63 entries (48 unique, 15 re-entry), a juicy prize pool of ₱ 14,360,850 (~US$ 258,912) was generated. Kho bested hot running James Mendoza and Filipino high roller Florencio Campomanes to claim a career high ₱ 4,309,000 payout and his first ever live title. 

Multi winners: Tom Orpaz and Sangbeom Lim

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Israel’s Tom Orpaz and Korea’s Sangbeom Lim also outshined at the series. Both players took down not one but two events. For Orpaz, he won them on the same day with victories at the 200K High Roller and 20K Midnight Hyper Turbo. The high roller event earned Orpaz a career high payout of 1,658,200 (~US$ 29,780). 

Buy in: ₱ 200,000 (~US$ 3,600)
Entries: 22
Prize pool: ₱ 3,947,900 (~US$ 71,180)
ITM: 4 places
Winner payout: ₱ 1,658,200 (~US$ 29,780)

Buy in: ₱ 20,000 (~US$ 360)
Entries: 80
Prize pool: ₱ 1,606,320 (~US$ 28,850)
ITM: 13 places
Winner payout: ₱ 307,000 (~US$ 5,514)

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For Sangbeom Lim, he first won a trophy at the 25K No Limit Hold’em Megastack Turbo Freezeout, then on closing day, he bagged the 15K Mini Main Event. These were Lim’s first wins outside of home soil.

Buy in: ₱ 25,000 (~US$ 450)
Entries: 40
Prize pool: ₱ 870,000 (~US$ 15,685)
ITM: 6 places
Winner payout: ₱ 251,000 (~US$ 4,514)

Buy in: ₱ 15,000 (~US$ 270)
Entries: 194
Prize pool: ₱ 2,483,976 (~US$ 44,780)
ITM: 27 places
Winner payout: ₱ 487,104 (~US$ 8,825)

Other winners

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Event 4: ₱55K NLH Deepstack Single Re-entry – GAURAV SOOD (India)- ₱ 555,000 (~US$ 10,000)
Event 7: ₱15K NLH Knockout – REYNALDO OSETE (Philippines) – ₱ 194,800 (~US$ 3,510)
Event 8: ₱100K NLH Shot Clock – DANIEL SMILJKOVIC (Germany) – ₱ 535,500 (~US$ 9,650)
Event 11: ₱15K NLH Super Deep Single Re-entry – CLYDE MORALES (Philippines) – ₱ 278,000 (~US$ 5,010)
Event 12: ₱100K NLH Shot Clock – AKSHAY NASA (India) – ₱ 712,200 (~US$ 12,840
Event 14: ₱15K NLH Deepstack Freezeout – DUY MANH HO (USA) – ₱ 266,000 (~US$ 4,795)
Event 16: ₱35K NLH Megastack Shot Clock Freezeout – JAE YI CHANG (Korea) – ₱ 824,500 (deal)
Event 17: ₱100K NLH 6-Handed Re-entry – ASHISH MUNOT (India) – ₱ 1,362,800 (~US$ 24,570)
Event 20: ₱25K NLH Super Deep Single Re-entry – KIM SEUNGYEOL (Korea) – ₱ 771,000 (~US$ 13,900)
Event 31: ₱35K NLH Hyper Turbo Freezeout – JASON MAGBANUA (Philippines) – ₱ 350,500 (~US$ 6,320)
Event 32: ₱5K Re-buy Charity Event – KIM HAK DO (Korea) – ₱ 103,900 (deal)
Event 33: ₱40K SuperStack NLH Freezeout – RENNIEL GALVEZ  (Philippines) – ₱ 1,198,500 (~US$ 21,607)
Event 35: ₱5K Flipout – DHAVAL MUDGAL (India) – ₱ 96,000 (~US$ 1,730)
Event 38: ₱20K NLH Super Knockout Turbo – SEONG IL HWANG (Korea) – ₱ 202,000 (~US$ 3,640)
Event 39: ₱10K NLH Bounty – JOSE MARQUEZ CHEUNG (Philippines) – ₱ 153,800 (deal)
Event 40: ₱50K Mixed PLO/NLH High Roller Freezeout – DAVID ERQUIAGA (Philippines) – ₱ 653,100 (~US$ 11,775)
Event 41: ₱100K High Roller NLH 6-Handed Shot Clock Turbo – NIROSHAN LOGANATHAN (Canada) – ₱ 1,000,000 (deal)

Up next for PokerStars LIVE Manila – Road to PSPC


Next on the PokerStars LIVE Manila agenda is the Road to PSPC which takes place on September 19 to 25 at Okada Manila. For a buy in of ₱ 22,000, players have a chance at a package to the upcoming PSPC (PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship) slated for January 30 to February 3 in the Bahamas. The package includes:

Seat to PSPC worth US$ 25,000
Six nights hotel accommodation for the winner and a guest at a five-star hotel
Airport transfer
US$ 1,900 expense money
Platinum Pass Winner experience during the event

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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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