Considering the global health crisis, the vaccination mandate, and other travel restrictions, it was uncertain if a large contingent of players from Asia would make the trip to the 52nd Annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. In the end, the numbers exceeded all expectations. Newcomers, recreational players, and well known pros came out to try to bring home the gold. The biggest turnouts were Japanese and Korean nationals. Four players emerged victorious. Here’s a summary of the series’ top Asian performers. 

Asia bracelet winners

Four players secured their first ever gold bracelet, two won it on the live stage and two at online platform WSOP.com

Carlos Chang

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Carlos Chang, Photo Credit – WSOP

One of the best performances was by recreational player Carlos Chang who won Event #41: $2,500 Freezeout NL Hold’em for a career high score of US$ 364,589. Chang became the first player from Taiwan to win at the Rio this year. He cashed at 7 other events and two at the online platform. In total, he earned US$ 399,525 and finished 9th in the No Limits Velo leaderboard, the highest placing of all the Asian players. 

Pete Chen

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Pete Chen, Photo Credit – WSOP

Year after year since 2016, Taiwanese pro Pete Chen has been chasing the coveted gold bracelet and this year, he finally won it at Online Event #3: $400 NL Hold’em Ultra Deepstack. Along with the shine, Chen pocketed US$ 82,560. In total, he cashed at 11 events for a collective US$ 169,202, and finished 10th in the No Limits Velo leaderboard. Outside of the series, Chen shipped the highly popular Wynn Classic Mystery Bounty event for a huge score of US$ 289,193. 

Kazuki Ikeuchi 

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Kazuki Ikeuchi, Photo Credit – WSOP

After three runner up finishes in previous years, Japanese pro Kazuki Ikeuchi finally overcame the hump at Online Event #5: $1,000 No Limit Hold’em Championship to capture his first career bracelet. Ikeuchi defeated a field of 854 entries to earn the US$ 152,798 first prize. He also cashed at seven other events. 

Motoyoshi Okamura

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Motoyoshi Okamura, Photo Credit – WSOP

Japanese player Motoyoshi Okamura was one of several players at the series who captured their first gold bracelet on their first visit to the annual series. Okamura won Event #72: $1,500 Mixed No Limit Hold’em/ Pot Limit Omaha for a career high score of US$ 209,716. He was the only player from his country to win at the Rio this year; Kazuki Ikeuchi won it online. Days prior to winning the gold, Okamura placed 2nd at the Aria High Roller series for US$ 122,000.

Runner up finishers

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James Chen, Photo Credit – WSOP

Six Asian players came very close to winning the gold, each one falling just one spot short. Included in the list were bracelet winners James Chen, Sejin Park, and high profile Asian players Kosei Ichinose and Aditya Agarwal

2nd – James Chen – Taiwan – Event #19: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship
2nd – Kosei Ichinose – Japan – Event #43: $3,000 6-Handed Limit Hold’em
2nd – Ka Kwan Lau – Hong Kong – Event #53: $25,000 High Roller PLO 8-Handed
2nd – Wataru Miyashita – Japan – Event #65: $1,000 Mini Main Event Freezeout
2nd – Sejin Park – Korea – Event #70: $888 Crazy Eights NLH 8-Handed
2nd – Aditya Agarwal – India – Event #76: $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty NLH Freezeout

Other final table finishers

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Jungwoong Park, Photo Credit – WSOP

Just as impressive were final table finishes by 13 other players. Hong Kong newcomer Jungwoong Park came out strong at Event #24: $600 PLO Deepstack 8-Handed with a 3rd place finish. Other commendable newcomers were Taiwan’s  Ting Yi “Eric” Tsai who reached 4th at Event #25: $5,000 6-Handed No Limit Hold’em and Korea’s Chulhan Choi who finished 4th at Event #63: $500 SALUTE to Warriors NL Hold’em. 

Flying under the Philippine flag were two pros, Marc Rivera and bracelet holder Mike Takayama. Between the two, Rivera ran the deepest with a 4th place finish at Event #79: $1,979 Poker Hall of Fame Bounty NL Hold’em Freezeout while Takayama placed 5th at Event #72: $1,500 Mixed NL Hold’em/ Pot Limit Omaha. Korea bracelet holder Sung Joo Hyun went a deep 6th place at Event #41: $2,500 Freezeout NL Hold’em. Pros Jun Obara (Japan) and Steve Yea (Korea), posted multiple deep runs as well that included 5th place finishes. 

3rd – Jungwoong Park – Hong Kong – Event #24: $600 PLO Deepstack 8-Handed
3rd – Neel Joshi – India – Event #86: $1,000 Super Turbo No Limit Hold’em
4th – Ting Yi “Eric” Tsai – Taiwan – Event #25: $5,000 6-Handed No Limit Hold’em
4th – Chulhan Choi – Korea – Event #63: $500 SALUTE to Warriors NL Hold’em
4th – Marc Rivera – Philippines – Event #79: $1,979 Poker Hall of Fame Bounty NLH Freezeout
5th – Jun Obara – Japan – Event #51: $3,000 6-Handed No Limit Hold’em
5th – Joonhee “Steve” Yea – Korea – Event #56: $10,000 6-Handed NLH Championship
5th – Mike Takayama – Philippines – Event #72: $1,500 Mixed NLH / Pot Limit Omaha
6th – Sung Joo Hyun – Korea – Event #41: $2,500 Freezeout NL Hold’em
7th – Manan Bhandari – India – Event #28: $1,000 Pot Limit Omaha 8-Handed
8th – Vikranth Anga – India – Event #64: $5,000 Mixed NLH / PLO 8-Handed
9th – Tamon Nakamura – Japan – Event #62: $1,500 PLO Hi-Lo 8 or Better 8-Handed

Norbert Koh

Singaporean pro Norbert Koh made his series debut with a 27th place finish at the Main Event, turning his US$ 10K buy-in into a sizable US$ 241,800 payout. This was the deepest run by an Asian player in this event. 

Abhinav Iyer

India bracelet winner Abhinav Iyer produced decent results with seven cashes amounting to US$ 161,940. His deepest runs were 12th place at Event #56: $10,000 6-Handed NL Hold’em Championship and 14th at Event #76: $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty NL Hold’em Freezeout. Iyer’s largest pay was at the Main Event, finishing 60th for US$ 113,800 which was all profit seeing that he won a Main Event package via GGPoker

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That wraps up Somuchpoker’s coverage of the 52nd Annual World Series of Poker. In progress is the 2021 WSOP Europe in Rozvadov, Czech Republic which runs through December 8. Singaporean player Feng Zhao nearly won his first series title, placing 2nd at Event #2: €550 Pot Limit Omaha. 

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