Asia Pacific players expected at the WSOP; Pete Chen on the felt!

The highly awaited 52nd World Series of Poker has finally arrived and despite the full vaccination requirement and border restrictions, players from all over are expected to flood the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino for a shot at the coveted bracelets. Among those making the pilgrimage are well known Asia Pacific players. Somuchpoker reached out to some to find out their plans for this series.

Taiwanese pros in attendance

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Pete Chen

At the time of writing, Natural8 Team Hot Ambassador Yenhan “Pete” Chen had already whet his appetite. He placed 17th at Event #3: $1K Covid-19 Relief NLH Charity Event for a US$ 2,000 payout.

“I will stay for the full series from September 28 to November 23 and do my best to get some good scores! If I have time, I will play some tournaments from other casinos, maybe in Venetian or Wynn. After the series, I will fly to Czech Republic for the WSOPE.”

Based on Chen’s past record and practice, it is likely he will play every event up to US$ 5K, and the Main Event. Chen has consistently cashed in the annual series since 2015. His best run was in 2017 when he nearly locked up a bracelet at the $5K No Limit Hold’em event, placing 2nd for US$ 382,122. This was just after he won the WPT Beijing Main Event for US$ 299,485. In 2019, Chen cashed 13 times.

As for travel challenges, not an issue for Chen who has been in Las Vegas since early July to play the 2021 WSOP Online [Domestic] where he cashed five times. 

Kitty Kuo
Kitty Kuo – Photo WPT

Taiwanese pro / Natural8 Ambassador Hui Chen “Kitty” Kuo is a familiar face at the annual series and expectedly so as she is a resident of Las Vegas. Back in 2010, Kuo won a WSOP Circuit ring at Caesars Palace. Since then, she has cashed fourteen times at the main series, nearly landing a bracelet at the 2015 No Limit Hold’em Shootout where she placed 4th for US$ 82,890, her largest WSOP score to date. Fans can expect to see Kuo at the tables once again as she seeks out that first gold bracelet.

Bracelet winner James Chen will be returning as well, as indicated in his Twitter posts. Chen boasts over US$ 1.5 Million in WSOP earnings in Las Vegas. He is an all around poker player with cashes at variants such as 2-7 Low Ball Draw, Omaha, Razz, and mixed game H.O.R.S.E. In 2019, Chen’s efforts reaped huge returns. He placed second at the $25K PLO High Roller for a massive US$ 1,000,253 payout, then followed it up with a victory at the WSOP Europe €250K Super High Roller NLH for €2,844,215 and his first gold bracelet. To date, he has over US$ 5.5 Million in WSOP winnings.

James Chen - Photo Joe Giron Courtesy of
James Chen – Photo Joe Giron Courtesy of

Possible WSOP attendee from Taiwan: Terry Fan who has been cashing at the WSOP since 2011.

Road to Vegas winner Vincent Huang

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Vincent Huang

Australian player Vincent Huang is one of several players from the Asia Pacific region to win a Road to Vegas package via Natural8 – GG Network. Included in the package is a ticket to the $10,000 World Championship Main Event. However, with the tournament still a month away, Huang intends to fill his poker appetite by playing a good chunk of the earlier games.

“I will be arriving on October 1st and staying until at least after the Main Event. I will pretty much play the whole series with buy ins from US$ 1,500 to US$ 10,000, but only playing NLHE. I am looking forward to the Six Max events and of course the Main Event.”

Huang has already had some live event practice. This past summer, he ran deep at three live events in Australia for a combined take of A$ 171,123 (~US$ 132,430). On the online arena, he cashed out 11 times at the 2021 WSOP Online [International] which included a 9th place finish at the $2,100 Bounty Championship. Aside from the WSOP, Huang will be seen at the Wynn and Venetian. And to ensure he always stays sharp, Huang shared,

“My goal is to keep a more balanced lifestyle, stay healthy with exercise/nutrition, high quality leisure activities and poker as a secondary priority. The past few times I burned out mentally quite hard due to registering early, playing pretty much everyday, and neglecting health.”

Huang has been in Mexico since early August to play the WCOOP and WSOP Online which means entering the US will be an easy trip, however, returning to Australia at the end of the series may prove a bit more challenging. With a 14 day quarantine requirement and a queue to get in, Huang intends to take his time and have fun globetrotting.

Possible WSOP attendee from Australia: Sean Ragozzini who won a Road to Vegas package via Natural8.

Ray Chiu going all in

10 Ray Chu
Ray Chiu

Hong Kong player Yik Yin “Ray” Chiu has no intentions of missing out on the annual series. As an avid live player that has been grounded for over a year and a half, Chiu expressed,

“With live poker in South East Asia slowing down, I am going all in on the trip that didn’t come easy. I will play the full series – the main and many of the marquee large-field, guaranteed Holdem events as well as the non-Holdem events which I used to play a ton of before I moved out of the US. I did well last trip in Omaha events so I have high hopes on those, too. Just have fun, after all, I am at the Mecca of poker. If I win some accessories for my wrist it’ll be a blessing.”

On his previous trip in 2019, Chiu ran a deep 15th place at the $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha Bounty and will be looking to up that score. He also plans to attend some of the events at other casinos.

“They aren’t as abundant this year around but Venetian and the bigger poker rooms are doing long series alongside WSOP as well. Will definitely play some.”

Dhaval Mudgal and Kunal Patni among India contenders

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Dhaval Mudgal

A good number of players from India will make the trek, however as one of the countries banned from entering the US, players will first have to park themselves at a non-restricted country for two weeks before they will be allowed entry. Somuchpoker was able to chat with two confirmed players, WPT Vietnam Main Event champion / Mobile Premier League (MPL) Pro Dhaval Mudgal and Adda52 Ambassador Kunal Patni. Both will be taking different routes to the series.

Mudgal: It’s a long way away from India as it is and because of the COVID restrictions this year, Indians need to spend 14 days in Mexico to get to America! More expenses on stay and flights but I get to see a new country so I’m going to make the best of it. My goal is to work out regularly, play good, and enjoy myself as this is where it’s at!

According to Mudgal, also traveling via the Mexico route are Aditya Agarwal, Neel Joshi, Sriharsha Doddapaneni, and WSOP bracelet winners Kartik Ved, Nikita Luther, and Abhinav Iyer (Road to Vegas package winner).

Patni: Since I live in India, I can’t enter the US directly so I would need to go to Dubai for a couple of weeks and then head to Vegas. That’s been quite a challenge. Also even though I have been fully vaccinated I need to do about 3 more tests before I enter Dubai. However, since it’s the biggest poker series, we are still excited to get there after all this.

Kunal Patni
Kunal Patni

Both players will arrive on the third week of October and play games of buy ins up to US$ 1,500 and the Main Event. For Patni, he has 20 WSOP cashes amounting to US$ 37,326 with his deepest run at the 2019 $400 COLOSSUS event, placing 56th for US$ 7,219. Aside from the WSOP, both players will also attend events at other casinos, including the Wynn and Venetian. For Mudgal, he is looking forward to the Mystery Bounty at the Wynn. 

Possible WSOP attendee from India: Apratim Sharma who won a Road to Vegas package on the GG Network.

Phachara Wongwichit still uncertain

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Phachara Wongwichit

Somuchpoker also reached out to Australian / Thai pro Phachara Wongwichit who we heard may be attending. Wongwichit has consistently cashed in the annual series since 2015. His deepest run was at the 2017 $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Shootout where he placed 4th for US$ 84,453.

“I had planned to arrive on October 13th and stay until the end of November, however my 2nd vaccine dose is scheduled for November 2 so everything is uncertain. I have an Australian passport so I can apply for ESTA to enter America, most Thais cannot attend the 2021 WSOP because the waiting queue for a visa appointment is very long. My biggest challenge though is getting the 2nd dose of AstraZeneca in time before going to compete in Las Vegas. Another major challenge is sorting out time away from business and personal in order to go to America for nearly two months.”

In the event that Wongwichit makes the trip, he will play all the US$ 3K events and below plus some US$ 5K events. Of course, the Main Event is also on his list. Aside from the WSOP, he plans to compete in major events at the Wynn. And like many players, attending this year’s series is a much needed break from the pandemic norm. Wongwichit said,

“My goal in this series is to escape Thailand from this depressing covid lockdown, reunite with friends that I have not seen since the outbreak, make deep runs and use it to promote poker in Thailand, and make a profit from playing of course.”

Stay tuned to Somuchpoker as we bring you updates and recaps throughout the series.

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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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