Looking back at PS LIVE Manila Super Series as it Gears Up for 20th Edition

Manila Super Series

In February 2017, the PokerStars LIVE Asia Manila Super Series took place for the first time at the City of Dreams in the Philippines. The schedule included a total of nine tournaments and among the side event winners was none other than Philippine poker veteran John Tech. In the PHP 10,000 Main Event, 719 entries generated a prize pool of PHP 6,137,384 (~USD 121,827) with Teddy Pham and John Costiniano reaching the final table. First-ever champion of the tournament was Hyung Jo from South Korea, who earned a payday of PHP 1,107,000 (~USD 21,974) back then.

Some seven years later, the 20th edition of one of the longest-running PS LIVE Asia tournament series awaits with a far bigger schedule from May 24 until June 2, 2024. For the eleventh time, the lavish Okada Manila Hotel & Casino will be the host location after taking over the reign in January 2019.

Manila Super Serires

It will be the biggest event series to date with a total of 34 tournaments as part of the schedule. For the second time in a row, the marquee Main Event features a price tag of PHP 20,000 (~USD 345) and a PHP 10 Million guarantee (~USD 173,000) with four different starting days.

Manila Super Series 20 – Player Guide

Many things may have since changed including the number of tournaments during each stop, the overall attendance and the Main Event price tag. Let’s dive into some of the past festivals and highlight some of the most successful players in the Manila Super Series during the seven years so far.

Manila Super Series Through The Seasons

Emmanuel Segismundo and Alexis Lim Shine in Early Editions

Emmanuel Segismundo
Emmanuel Segismundo

Just three months after the first edition, on May 2017 the second Manila Super Series was held and locally decorated Filipino pro Emmanuel Segismundo outshined, taking down the Warm-Up Event and placing 3rd at the Main Event. Filipino Joseph Sia topped a field of 742 entries in the Main Event after a heads-up deal with Ernest Ouano for PHP 858,000 (~USD 17,157).

In the third edition, Segismundo’s name could be found in the winner’s circle once more after he took down not one but two tournaments. That included a PHP 15,000 Side Event on July 7 and two days later, he earned the biggest slice in a 428-entry strong Main Event for PHP 717,000 (~USD 14,153). Segismundo defeated Alexis Lim for the title. Richard Marquez aka Hotsauce was also on the final table while another local poker veteran took down the Warm-Up in Christopher Mateo aka “BIGTIME”.

On the fourth edition, the Main Event was won by none other than Hong Kong’s Alan “King Lun” Lau, who defeated Jonald Garcia in heads-up. With 725 entries, it was another strong showing and the guarantee was more than doubled. Mateo and Marquez reached the final table on which Lau collected PHP 1,166,000 (~USD 22,843). 

Alexis Lim
Alexis Lim, Photo Credit – PokerStars LIVE

In the fifth edition, ten of the thirteen event winners hailed from the Philippines with Eugene Co and Mike Takayama winning two titles. Takayama cut a heads-up with Alexis Lim, who finished as the runner-up for the second time in the first five editions and earned PHP 800,000 (~USD 15,346).

David Erquiaga aka “Dave Spade” was the first casualty on that final table for PHP 81,080 (~USD 1,555) but soon went onto big things on the Asia-Pacific poker circuit. Kim Michael Enriquez and Lester Edoc chopped the Main Event with Rodrigo Sequite. The field reached four digits for the first time thanks to 1,118 entries and tripled the guarantee with both players taking home PHP 1,377,500 (~USD 26,452).

International Players Take Center Stage

Yuka Asaka
Yuka Asaka

Taiwan’s Icheng Lin finished third but then went on to win the next edition in a field of 784 entries, beating none other than Takayama (third) and Marquez (second) for the title. The victory came with a top prize of PHP 1,280,000 (~USD 24,305).

During the eighth edition, Japan took down the Main Event for the first time. The field size reached 1,023 entries and Yuka Asaka defeated Mark Gruendemann in heads-up play for a top prize of PHP 1,605,000 (~USD 30,027).

Tan Wah Meng
Tan Wah Meng

Tan Wah Meng put Singapore on the scoreboard for the Main Event in a 947-entry strong field but took slightly fewer money (PHP 1,182,500/$21,807) than Vietnam’s Le Ngoc Khanh (PHP 1,212,500/$22,360).

During Manila Super Series 10, the Main Event buy-in increased to PHP 12,000 for the first time and the attendance dropped to 487 entries. Former champion John Tech finished in fourth place while John Dela Cruz earned the top prize of PHP 750,000 (~USD 14,373).

In the last three editions prior to the global coronavirus pandemic, Alexis Lim (diffferent from the one mentioned earlier) got the Main Event victory crossed off his bucket list. Still with the elevated buy-in of PHP 12,000, the field size increased to 622 entries and Lim came out on top of a heads-up duel with Jason Ambata for a top prize of PHP 1,066,000 (~USD 20,858).

Jinlong Hu
Jinlong Hu

The first Chinese winner in the Main Event was crowned in the 12th edition when Jinlong Hu joined the winner’s circle in a field of 565 entries. Lim had the chance for back-to-back titles but finished in 8th place this time for PHP 120,000.

Ambata didn’t make a deep run in the Main Event during the next two stops but won the MegaStack Event during Manila Super Series 13 while the title went to Japan for the second time as Koki Takeishi cut a heads-up deal with Joey Pardales in a field of 540 entries.

Joemark Vasay becomes first Two-Time Main Event Champion

Joemark Vasay
Joemark Vasay

In the first edition after pandemic days, the Main Event buy-in increased to PHP 15,000 (~USD 260) this time and 398 entries emerged with local player Joemark Vasay coming out on top for PHP 720,000 (~USD 14,014). It would then also be Vasay to later become the first two-time Main Event champion during the most recent Manila Super Series 19 in January 2024 as well.

The buy-in increase to PHP 20,000 (~USD 345) also came with a far larger guarantee of PHP 10 Million / USD 173K (from PHP 3 Million prior) and the price tag doubles since the inception of the popular series. With 333 entries and 316 re-entries, the prize pool reached PHP 11,079,728 (~USD 199,386) and that was the second-biggest tally in the history, of which Vasay earned PHP 1,927,000 (~USD 34,678) for his second triumph.

Vasay also won a second event of the comprehensive schedule, which had grown to 26 tournaments since. The PHP 7,500 Warm-Up drew a combined 330 entries and Vasay had to defeat none other than Christopher Mateo and Mike Takayama for the trophy and PHP 407,000 (~USD 7,000) top prize.

Paolo Boccaletti
Paolo Boccaletti

The record for the Main Event prize pool of the Manila Super Series was set during edition 18 in September 2023, the penultimate stop thus far. With a buy-in of PHP 15,000, (~USD 260) the attendance reached four figures for the third time with a combined 1,034 entries and re-entries. That led to a prize pool of PHP 13,239,336 (~USD 233,521) and the top four finishers cut a deal after which Paolo Boccaletti (PHP 1,767,000/USD 31,167) emerged as the champion. All three Main Event titles prior went to local players in Jason Magbanua, Joseph Santos and William Ysmael.

Will any of the regular champions take home further trophies in the next couple of days once again or will new winners emerge at Okada Manila?

PokerStars LIVE Manila Super Series 20 kicks off in two weeks, over PHP 16.5M (~USD 287K) in prizes up ahead

*Article by Christian Zetzsche

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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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