[1 of 4] Top live poker achievements by Asia players in 2023 – five of 20 players


The year 2023 may well have been the busiest year of live poker for Asian players. While many outshined, Somuchpoker has picked 20 players for our top performers list. Here are the first five.

Valeriy Pak – Uzbekistan

Since his first major win at the WPT Korea Incheon Main Event in 2018, Valeriy Pak had not been able to make any significant runs in succeeding tournaments nor in the next couple of years. The player from Uzbekistan all but dropped off the poker radar until 2023 saw him blip back to life, collecting over $1,240,000 in winnings. 

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Opening the year with a win at the KRW 500,000 No Limit Hold’em – Classic of the Asia Series Poker Tour, Incheon, Pak followed it up with a flurry of incredible final table runs.

7th place: Poker Dream Manila Main Event – PHP 885,000 (~$15,925)
1st place: Hong Kong Poker Tour Korea Main Event – KRW 19,028,000 (~$14,740)
2nd place: World Poker Tour Korea Main Event – KRW 250,187,000 (~$197,750)
3rd place: World Poker Tour Korea High Roller – KRW 117,540,000 (~$91,410)
4th place: Asian Poker Tour Incheon Main Event – KRW 110,900,000 (~$83,760)
2nd place: Asian Poker Tour Incheon High Roller – KRW 115,800,000 (~$87,900)

These deep scores were just a preview to the highlight of Pak’s comeback year: snatching the 2023 PokerStars European Poker Tour Cyprus. It wasn’t just the win but how he did it. Pak triumphed after a 17-hour nail-biting final table marathon to pocket his biggest career win of $338,460. Not only did the Uzbekistan player raise the coveted Golden Shard Trophy but it pushed his live tournament earnings past the $1 Million mark.

To cap off his comeback year, Pak rumbled through a staggering 10,512 entries to make it to the final table of the year’s most talked-about mega-tournament, the WPT Prime Championship at Wynn Las Vegas. Pak finished 6th and added $290,000 to his 2023 earnings.

Hoang Hai Nam – Vietnam

Hoang Hai Nam

Rising Vietnamese Poker star Hoang Hai Nam aka “Luckyman9999” hit the ground running in 2023. He cashed in on his very first tournament of the year at the WPC Kick Off Event Hanoi with a 5th place finish then followed this up with a maiden title at the APT Hanoi 2023 Main Event. This was only his second time mixing it up in a big entry field. Hoang bested 654 players to not only clinch a career first live event title but also a first six figure payout of $119,029. The relative newcomer, with last year listing only nine cash-outs but with 7 table finishes, looked to be making this a statement year.

The Vietnamese player continued to burn the felt in Hanoi, snatching a first place win at the VSOP Championship VII, final table finishes at the World Poker Championships III & IV, and capturing an incredible two Super High Roller titles at U Series of Poker – Superstar Challenge and Super High Roller. The twin wins made him the biggest earner of the festival, collecting a total $252,277 in winnings. His Super High Roller payout alone of $ 127,563 surpassed his first career record winnings made earlier in the year.

Hoang nearly tripled his poker activity this 2023. There’s little reason we won’t see more of his winning ways next year.

Daewoong Song – South Korea

In July 2023, Daewoong Song came tantalizingly close to securing his first ever gold bracelet at the $400 Colossus 54th World Series of Poker in Horseshoe & Paris Las Vegas. It wasn’t Song’s time in his third WSOP appearance but nonetheless, his biggest career cash winning at $300,410 for runner up. The South Korean grinded it out through a year of crossing continents with similar 5 runners-up finishes but also claimed a deuce of championship runs. Song’s 2023 was packed and paid dividends.

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Daewoong Song

Song’s year started strong in real city of lights, finishing fourth in the European Poker Tour Paris collecting $27,633 for the event staged in February. He then crossed time zones to compete in his home turf, making a deep run at the World Focused Poker (WFP) Super High Roller Event and final table finishes at the Asian Union Poker Jeju.

By May, Song finally found himself top of the heap at the Asian Poker Tour Taipei, capturing the prestigious Silver Lion Single Day High Roller trophy. It was Song’s maiden APT title to add to his impressive resume’. In the lead up to his best showing at the WSOP in Vegas, Song picked up another runner up finish at the Grand Poker Tour – GPT Ultimate Poker Series, Seongnam-si to begin his memorable June run in Las Vegas.

Song’s good fortune carried over to the third quarter this time at European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona. He cleared the tables for respectable finishes with career high winnings at the EPT Second Chance Event with $ 133,107 and $87,031 for yet another runner-up finish at the 6-Handed Event. 

Anirban Das – India

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Anirban Das – Photo by pokerGO

Anirban Das’s Poker career had been played mostly on-line and not as a full-time pro. He has recorded only three live event cashes, two of them coming in 2023 at the World Series of Poker. Though that singular deep run at the year’s biggest tournament, the 54th WSOP Main Event instantly put Anriban Das in the world Poker map.

With an astounding 10,043 entries at the Las Vegas event, Das was the last Asian standing, ultimately finishing at 16th for a massive $430,200 payout. Das also made history as the highest an Indian player has ever placed in a WSOP Main Event. 2023 may have just whet his appetite for this Marketing Master’s degree holder. He may just go full time at live events in 2024.

Danny Tang – Hong Kong

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Danny Ta

Daniel “Danny” Chi Tang’s star continued to burn bright with a white hot 2023, coming off another spectacular season which saw his rankings climb to Hong Kong GPI Number 1 and World Number 8. Once again, Tang scorched the tables, with deep runs and a growing list of tournament titles while pumping his career earnings by more than 11 Million US dollars. Since scoring his first ever WSOP bracelet in Vegas in 2018, Tang has established himself as one of the tour’s best, finding mastery of the high roller events.

Tang’s year began with a career first Poker Dream Malaysia title. He pocketed $ 71,551 in the tournament’s return to Resorts World Genting Highlands. This spurred on a series of big cashes at Poker Dream Manila, the largest of which was at the Super High Roller Event earning him his first six-figure payout of the year at $ 113,908. But this merely served as an appetizer for the 30-year old’s voracious appetite for the high roller games.

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Danny Tang, photo by Triton

Tang went for the buffet at the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series. He clinched his maiden Triton title at the $25K Short Deck in Hoi An, Vietnam to bag $ 427,000. More significantly though, Tang’s first place finish came after ten Triton final table appearances since finishing runner-up at Montenegro in 2019. The win also appears to have triggered a break-out year in this high roller series for the Hong Kong resident.

Tang followed his maiden title tearing up the felt in the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Cyprus, Kyrenia picking up big cashes in 3 events before clinching two more titles at the Turbo and Main Events to complete a hat trick, adding a combined  $1,295,000 for the twin titles.

Tang continued his streak at the Triton SHRS Event London, making headlines with his fourth Triton title in the $ 60,000 NLH Event. He joined Malaysia’s Wai Kin Yong who also secured his fourth title establishing a new Poker power bloc from the Far East.

Tang’s victory gave him a third-biggest career bink of $1,600,000 and his total prize money of $3,219,300, closing the London series, represented his largest haul in a single staging since breaking into the scene in 2013. That Triton Title put him in the exclusive “4-Time Club” with Yong, and Belarus sensation Mikita Badziakouski.

Though Tang busted out of that club pretty quickly, continuing his high roller romp at the Triton SHRS Event in Monte Carlo. He started strong with a sixth place finish in the first event, the $200,000 NLH Triton Invitational for a cash of $ 875,000, then captured a career fifth Triton title ruling Event #9 – $50,000 NLH by beating American Isaac Haxton. Tang nearly snagged a sixth title at the final high roller event, eventually finishing runner-up to Canada’s Dan Dvoress. Still, Tang’s incredible 2023 Triton run earned him 5 titles in this year alone, stretching his final table appearances to 15. He brings his total Triton earnings to over $ 14.8 Million. The amount accounts for nearly 60 percent of his total career winnings of $ 24,380,844. Tang is definitely taking the high-roller road all the way to the bank. 

*Article by Mike Alcazaren

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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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