It can be said that 2022 marked the return to full throttle of live poker. Tournament players returned to the felt after many months of forced hibernation. While there were many that shined, here are our picks for some of the top Asia performers in the field.
PUNNAT PUNSRI tops 2022 GPI Asia ranking
Relatively unknown before 2022, Punnat Punsri moved in leaps and bounds across the high roller poker tournament scene, setting and then promptly breaking personal best records. His outstanding accomplishments earned him the highest Global Poker Index (GPI) ranked Asian player by year’s end.
Getting to know Thai pro Punnat Punsri
Punsri crashed open the doors with back-to-back victories in two Venetian high roller events in January 2022. Midway through the year, he placed 3rd at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) $50K High Roller for a payout of $593K. A month or so later, it was another near bracelet capture, finishing runner-up at the WSOP $1,979 Hall of Fame Bounty event.
Two months after missing out on the gold bling, Punsri clinched the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Main Event in Kyrenia, Cyprus to win his personal best cash to date of $2.6 million.
The year 2022 was surely a lucrative year for Punsri with over $4 million in winnings, placing him firmly atop The Hendon Mob Thailand All-Time Money list.
DAVID ERQUIAGA bests competition in multiple events
Filipino David “Dave Spade” Erquiaga busts out a breakout year cashing 52 events, including eight 1st place and six 2nd place finishes in different poker circuits.
Erquiaga posted his best live cash to date of $137k for topping the competition at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Prime Cambodia Main Event. He followed this up with a dominant performance at the Asian Poker Tour (APT) Philippines, winning top prize at the Championships Event and 2nd at the Main Event. His string of successes rolled over to Hanoi, Vietnam where he placed 2nd in the Super High Roller event of the World Poker Championship. Erquiaga‘s relentless campaign netted him just shy of $630k for the year.
PAUL PHUA claims first WSOP bracelet
Paul Phua finally secured a WSOP gold bracelet to round out what was a banner year for the well-known Malaysian businessman and poker player. He duked it out with some of the best poker players in the world to emerge triumphant in the Platinum High Roller event in Rozvadov, Czech Republic.
This achievement followed his success earlier in the year at the Triton Poker Series in Madrid and the Super High Roller Bowl Europe series in Cyprus, winning first in the former and second in the latter for a total payout of just over $2.5 million.
JINHO HONG takes down WSOP bracelet event
Jinho Hong, Photo Credit – WSOP/ PokerNews
South Korean Jinho Hong outlasted another player in this list, Punnat Punsri, to clinch his first WSOP bracelet. The former professional StarCraft player held the chip lead for most of the time in the final table of the Poker Hall of Fame Bounty event, successfully fending off Punsri’s assault to secure the win.
Getting to know Jinho Hong
His WSOP victory came just under a month after posting his best live cash to date at $696,011 for winning the Championship event of The Wynn Summer Classic in Las Vegas, USA. He also posted his largest home soil career payout of ₩58M (~$45.5K) after placing third in the WFP Syndrome3 Super High Roller.
MIKE TAKAYAMA continues dominant run
Mike Takayama strung together an impressive range of victories in 2022 to maintain his sterling status among the very best poker players not just in the Philippines but in the Asia-Pacific region. Best known for being the first Filipino player to win a WSOP gold bracelet, he closed out the year atop the national GPI list and 9th in Asia. Listing down some of Takayama’s biggest wins this year:
Asia Poker Championship (APC) Manila for ₱6M (~$112.5K)
WPT Prime Cambodia Super High Roller for $94K and High Roller for $106K
European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague NLH for €73,240 (~$77K)|
Takayama also collected multiple five digit scores at the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) in Cambodia and Manila and at the APT Philippines festivals. He was crowned APT Player of the Series twice this year.
Interview: Mike Takayama
ZARVAN TUMBOLI triumphs at first-ever WPT Prime Asia Main Event
Indian poker pro Zarvan Tumboli won the first-ever WPT Prime Asia Main Event held in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 2022. He bested a record-breaking field of 777 entries. The victory earned Tumboli $131,394 for his largest payday to date. The WPT Prime headlined the 20th anniversary of the WPT Asia circuit.
Earlier in the year, Tumboli also bagged the top prize of the Baazi Poker Tour (BPT) High Roller in India for ₹5,000,000 (~$65.8K).
MINH ANH NGUYEN wins record-breaking Poker Dream Vietnam Main Event
Minh Anh Nguyen maneuvered his way to winning the first-ever Poker Dream Vietnam Main Event, which boasted the largest-ever Vietnam Main Event prize pool of ₫17,940,150,000. Nguyen outlasted 822 entrants to take home $139,077 for far-and-away his biggest purse to date.
CHAN LOK MING golden WSOP debut, dominates Taiwan Millions Tournament
Chan Lok Ming – Photo credit – WSOP / PokerNews
Chan Lok Ming struck gold on his first trip to Las Vegas, USA. The young poker pro who hails from Hong Kong clinched the WSOP Mixed Big Bet event in June 2022 for his first bracelet and largest payday to date of $144.3K.
Lok Chan’s early victories in Taiwan buoyed his voyage to the WSOP. Earlier in 2022, he won six titles in the Taiwan Millions Tournament (TMT) 11, along with multiple podium finishes. In October 2022, he clinched the Main Event of the Chinese Texas Hold’em Poker Association (CTP) 7th Anniversary.
GAB YONG KIM posts big scores in Europe
Gab Yong Kim – PokerNews / Danny Maxwell
Well-known South Korean pro Gab Yong Kim catapulted himself to 3rd in South Korea’s All-Time Money List following two huge wins in Europe.
Following an ICM deal, Kim took home over $686k for placing 4th in the Main Event of EPT Prague in March 2022 – his best live cash so far. As the year closed out, he also mustered a 2nd place finish at the Platinum High Roller event of the WSOP Europe in Rozvadov for just under $300k.
*Article by Aris Aquino
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