2021 witnessed a busier live scene than expected, and as the curtain closes, here’s a look at some of our top Asia Pacific player live achievements of the year.
Michael Addamo wins over US$ 9.4M, two WSOP bracelets, and Purple Jacket
Inarguably one of the top No Limit Hold’em players today, this past fall Australian pro Michael Addamo absolutely crushed the Las Vegas high roller scene by delivering the most incredible performance of his career. He kicked off his insane rush in mid-September with back to back Poker Masters tournament wins – $50K No Limit Hold’em for US$ 680,000 and $100K No Limit Hold’em for US$ 1,160,000 – and was hailed Player of the Series to earn the brand’s esteemed Purple Jacket. Following those victories, the next two weeks brought more deep runs with two final table finishes at the Aria High Roller Series – 2nd at $50K No Limit Hold’em for US$ 322,000 and 3rd at $200K No Limit Hold’em for $544,000 – then proceeded to conquer the Super High Roller Bowl $300K No Limit Hold’em for a massive career high takedown worth US$ 3,402,000.
While those achievements were more than enough to awe the poker community, Addamo didn’t rest on his laurels. Instead, he took on the 52nd Annual World Series of Poker and won the $50K No Limit Hold’em High Roller 8-Handed for US$ 1,132,968 and the $100K No Limit Hold’em High Roller for US$ 1,958,569 to increase his bracelet collection from two to four. In between those wins, he captured another victory at the Aria High Roller Series $15,700 No Limit Hold’em for US$ 219,300.
In summary, Addamo cashed at eight events in sin city of which six were victories, for a combined US$ 9,418,837 payout. This phenomenal amount boosted his total live tournament earnings to over US$ 17.7 Million to catapult from rank 129th to 40th rank in The Hendon Mob’s All Time Money List.
Carlos Chang rocks the WSOP with ten cashes and a bracelet
Taiwanese players always produce top notch results at the WSOP and this year it was Carlos Chang displaying the goods. Describing himself as a recreational player, Chang’s recent achievements say otherwise. At the series, he cashed in at nine events and championed the $2,500 Freezeout No Limit Hold’em to secure his first ever gold bracelet and a career high payout of US$ 364,589. As a result, he also finished 9th in the No Limits Velo leaderboard, the highest placing out of all the Asian players. Taking a glance at his prior accomplishments, Chang’s past live scores include three WSOP final tables, a couple of hometown five figure wins, and a 2012 APT Macau Main Event title. To date, he has over US$ 1.5 Million in live tournament earnings and is ranked 5th in The Hendon Mob’s Taiwan All Time Money List.
Norbert Koh finishes 27th at WSOP Main Event debut
Singaporean pro Norbert Koh can finally cross off the WSOP from his bucket list having finally made the trip this past fall to attend the Main Event. According to Koh, his decision to fly off to Las Vegas was based on the impressive results being pulled in by fellow poker pals from Asia. What followed was an accomplishment he will forever treasure. Koh placed 27th out of 6,650 players, which was the deepest finish among all Asians in attendance. He pocketed a career high score of US$ 241,800 to boost his live tournament earnings over US$ 500K. Sharing his thoughts, Koh said,
“My WSOP Main Event run is my biggest poker achievement so far. I’ve won and final tabled many events but none had my adrenaline and nerves pumping as much as running deep in this event.”
Sung Joo Hyun bags two WPT titles and the Wynn Spring Classic Championship
Bountiful year on the live felt for Korean player Sung Joo Hyun who amassed a towering US$ 994,673 across 23 events. Hyun’s incredible journey began in late-January with a victory at the WPTDeepStacks Showdown Poker Series $1,600 No Limit Hold’em for a US$ 208,335 takedown. This was his largest career payout until a month and a half later when he shipped The Wynn Spring Classic $3,500 No Limit Hold’em Championship for US$ 323,409. In October, Hyun finished 6th at the WSOP $2,500 No Limit Hold’em for US$ 64,864, then in December, he went on a crazy heater, reaching four High Roller final tables at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic with a victory in one for US$ 140,000. Hyun closed out the year with over US$ 1.3 Million in total live tournament earnings and is ranked 46th in the GPI, the highest among all Asia-Pacific players.
Milestone victory for newcomer Motoyoshi Okamura
The only other Asian player to win a bracelet on the live stage this year was Japan’s Motoyoshi Okamura, and he achieved it on his first ever visit to Las Vegas. Fairly new to the live scene, Okamura won the $1,500 Mixed No Limit Hold’em / Pot Limit Omaha 8-Handed event for a career high US$ 209,716 payout. Just days prior, Okamura placed 2nd at the Aria High Roller Series $10K No Limit Hold’em for US$ 122,000. All in all, his maiden trip was a huge success. Okamura brought home the gold and earned a collective US$ 382,473 across five events, which were the only recorded live cashes of his young career.
Steve Yea victorious at five local events
Unlike many countries that saw live poker come to an abrupt halt, in Korea, the scene boomed with local organizers popping up and tournaments running nearly every month. This year, Steve Yea found success in five events, each one hosted by a different brand. His first win came in late March at the World Class of Poker KR₩ 2,640,000 No Limit Hold’em High Roller for KR₩ 62,800,000 (~US$ 55,670). In May came his second takedown at the BPP Tournament KR₩ 600K Monster Stack for KR₩ 12,200,000 (~US$ 10,971). One month later, he bagged two events, the APL High Roller Series KR₩ 2M No Limit Hold’em High Roller for a whopping KR₩ 127,500,000 (~US$ 114,249) and the OUR POKER STORY KR₩ 2.5M No Limit Hold’em for KR₩ 75,000,000 (~US$ 66,124).
Yea’s fifth victory was in late August when he clinched the Masters League KR₩ 6M Super High Roller for KR₩ 54,000,000 (~US$ 46,502). In addition to these superb achievements was a 5th place finish at the WSOP $10K No Limit Hold’em 6-Handed Championship for US$ 137,303, his largest payout of the year. Yea has now crossed over US$ 1.5 Million in live tournament earnings and climbed to 3rd rank in THM’s Korea All Time Money List.
Sean Ragozzini turns a package into half a million
Out of all the Asia Pacific players that won WSOP Main Event packages via online platform Natural8, it was Australian pro Sean Ragozzini aka “Raggaz” taking it the farthest for a mighty large profit. Ragozzini finished 11th for a substantial payout of US$ 585,000. Not only was this Ragozzini’s first ever live WSOP score, it was also the biggest of his career. Aside from this deep run, he also picked up a couple of wins earlier in the year. In June he shipped back to back events, the WPTDS Gold Coast A$5K Challenge for A$ 140,481 (~US$ 108,790) and the WPTL Gold Coast Quarterly Poker Championship A$3,250 No Limit Hold’em for A$ 69,360 (~US$ 53,679). To date, Ragozzini has accumulated over US$ 1.2 Million in total live tournament earnings.