Highlights of the first PokerStars Festival Korea

With the WSOP Main Event final table dominating poker headlines over the past week, it would be easy to forget that other tours and tournaments have been going about their business in other parts of the world. PokerStars have in fact been running their own festival in Korea, with notable names from the Asian community making the trip and being involved in the action. Here are a few select highlights of what’s been happening.

Taehoon Han wins Main Event

Taehoon Han - Photo Long Guan courtesy of PokerStars
Taehoon Han – Photo Long Guan courtesy of PokerStars

Yuki Ko was the story of the KRW1,650,000 (US$1,478) Main Event throughout most of its duration, dominating the field to carry the chip lead into the second day.

The tournament began with four starting flights, generating a field size of 285 players.Ko not only stormed through the first two days, but looked a powerful force at the final table too, eventually getting heads-up with New Zealand’s Taehoon Han.

Ko was a homegrown talent, being from Korea, and despite having a slight chip deficit going into heads-up, looked a good bet to win it all. He clearly felt the same, asking for a significant extra slice of the money to be added his side of a potential chop when the players discussed a deal. Han refused, and went on to press his chip advantage into victory, leaving Ko with KRW55,280,000 (US$49,571) for his second-place finish. Taehoon Han lifted the trophy and banked KRW83,130,000 (US$74,544) for the win.

Place Player Home Country Prize
1 Taehoon Han New Zealand ₩83,130,000
2 Yuki Ko Korea ₩55,280,000
3 Weikuo Hsiao Taiwan ₩40,430,000
4 Mitsuru Sano Japan ₩32,635,000
5 Harunobu Kojima Japan ₩25,600,000
6 Scott Janik United States ₩19,400,000
7 Jwahyoung Kim Korea ₩14,220,000
8 Dmitrii Kovalevskii Russia ₩10,450,000

Boyuan Qu takes High Roller title

Boyuan Qu - Photo Long Guan courtesy of PokerStars
Boyuan Qu – Photo Long Guan courtesy of PokerStars

While the money involved in the Main Event was quite substantial, some players had their eyes on the bigger buy in event during this festival. The High Roller had a buy in of KRW KRW4,350,000 (US$3,901) and a field size of 34, with 62 total entries, in what was the richest poker tournament ever held on Korean soil. Randy ‘Nanonoko’ Lew sprinkled some stardust on the final table, as did Sparrow Cheung, albeit for a brief time. Cheung would fall in 8th place, before Lew succumbed in 5th. In the end, it was Japan’s Kazuhiko Yotsushika and China’s Boyuan Qu fighting it out for the biggest prize, with Qu emerging victorious from heads-up play. He takes home KRW72,160,000 (US$64,707) while Yotsushika settles for 2nd place and KRW52,200,000 (US$46,809).

Place Player Country Prize
1 Boyuan Qu China ₩72,160,000
2 Kazuhiko Yotsushika Japan ₩52,200,000
3 Takayuki Iwamoto Japan ₩33,680,000
4 Horzuchi Yutaka Japan ₩25,500,000
5 Randy Lew USA ₩19,730,000
6 Daniel Demicki Poland ₩15,400,000
7 Xiangbiao Zhu China ₩12,270,000
8 Sparrow Cheung Hong Kong ₩9,620,000

Pete Chen, Alan King Lau and Sparrow Cheung battle for Asian leaderboard supremacy

The GPI leaderboard for 2017 is shaping up nicely as we head towards August, with Pete Chen, Alan King Lau and Sparrow Cheung having all been prolific through the course of this year. Each of them will be hoping to claim the GPI title of top Asian player, along with the Asia Player of the Year accolade.

All three competitors picked up more points in Korea during this series, with Pete Chen finishing 2nd in event 9, for KRW10,840,000 (US$9,720). Pete Chen made clear his hopes of winning both annual leaderboards when speaking to PokerStars, but his rivals have remained in close proximity.

Sparrow Cheung took 8th place in the High Roller for KRW9,620,000 (US$8,626) and 12th in the Main Event for KRW6,350,000 (US$5,694).

Alan King Lau also managed to keep himself in contention with 25th place in event 2 and 29th in the Main Event, collecting small cashes for each.

Article by Craig Bradshaw