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, Philippines‘ James 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
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)
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)
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)
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
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)
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
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)
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
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)
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)
Prize pool: ₱ 1,606,320 (~US$ 28,850)
ITM: 13 places
Winner payout: ₱ 307,000 (~US$ 5,514)
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)
Prize pool: ₱ 870,000 (~US$ 15,685)
ITM: 6 places
Winner payout: ₱ 251,000 (~US$ 4,514)
Buy in: ₱ 15,000 (~US$ 270)
Prize pool: ₱ 2,483,976 (~US$ 44,780)
ITM: 27 places
Winner payout: ₱ 487,104 (~US$ 8,825)
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
US$ 1,900 expense money
Platinum Pass Winner experience during the event