After fifteen poker festivals held in various destinations around the world, the Asian Poker Tour wrapped up its busiest year with the APT Finale 2016 coming to a close in Macau. The nine-day event ran from December 7th-15th at the Crystal Palace in Casino Lisboa, attracting a huge turnout of 1200 entrants comprising of 450 unique players from 23 different countries. The overall prize pool was also a hefty one, amounting to a massive HKD8,000,000.
Over the course of the week, there certainly was no shortage of thrilling moments with many players reigning victorious at the side events. One player who seized the finale by storm was Korea’s Soojo Kim. Kim overcame a field of 273 entries at the APT Main Event, its largest turnout recorded for the year. He also claimed two side events, the No Limit Hold’em 1 and the 6 Handed Turbo w/Antes. Kim earned a combined total of HKD740,400 at the festival.
Several years ago, the APT staged an event called the Manila Millions, which was by far the highest ever seen buy-in for a poker event in the Philippines at that time. With the rise of these events now being witnessed in the live tournament scene, the finale included a Super High Rollers event to the roster. Buy-in was a whopping HKD200,000 with eight players in attendance. Winning the event and earning the single highest event payout was China’s Devan Tang who shipped in HKD720,000. Days prior, Tang finished second at the High Rollers event bringing his total winnings to nearly HKD950,000. That makes him the biggest cash winner of the finale.
Other players who also ran very well were Hong Kong’s Hazel Yuen Shan Chui, capturing two side event trophies, the No Limit Hold’em 1 Day event and the Deep Stack Turbo 3; APT newcomer Michael Chan from Malaysia outlasted 170 entries at the opening event; and USA’s Lavonne Alexander Watkins cashed in an impressive four side events which included a victory at the Deep Stack Turbo 1 event.
Japan’s Iori Yogo dethrones Razavi and wins the APT Player of the Year 2016
A new champion emerges!
It took several years for someone to rise to the challenge and successfully dethrone UK’s Samad Razavi, the quadruple APT Player of the Year champion 2012-2015 but it did happen and it was none other than Japanese pro Iori Yogo. Yogo finished the 2016 year over 600 points ahead of the defending champion in the APT POY race.
The battle between these two pros began last year with both players at the top of the APT POY charts. Though Razavi was ahead in points, it eventually came down to the finale with Razavi picking up several side event cashes to hold on to his lead and win the race. This year began fairly the same with Razavi jumping out with the lead and Yogo trailing close behind.
Then in May, it all changed. Yogo overtook Razavi after cashing in four side events at the APT Experience Manila which included a victory in one of them. From then on, his quest for the APT POY title was put in high gear, always inching ahead at every subsequent APT festival, making it difficult for Razavi to catch up.
Yogo finished the 2016 year with 8 titles and 34 total ITM’s. This year saw also him win his first APT Main Event championship title at the Okinawa Poker Cup in Japan. For his victory, he was awarded the APT Player of the Year Trophy at the APT POY Party in Macau. He also received US$10,000 worth of APT Main Event buy-ins at an event of his choice, a customized APT Jacket, worldwide recognition as the APT Player of the Year through APT Marketing, and will be featured in the Asian Poker Tour 2017 booklets.
In addition, Yogo won the APT Regional POY Japan race. This awarded him an extra US$2,000 worth of APT tournament entry fees.
The APT RPOY also awarded another player a trophy at the party, Korea’s SJ Kim for topping the race for his country. Kim took the lead in the APT RPOY Korea race just two months ago. He entered the finale as the leader with his closest challenger, Lim Yo Hwan, attempting to overtake. But Kim was on fire, closing the year with the highest number of titles out of any player at the APT for 2016. He won 10 events.
Absentee players unable to receive their APT RPOY 2016 awards in person were Razavi for the International race, Mike Takayama for the Philippines, and Hung-Sheng Lin for the China bracket.
APT Year in Review
The APT had a very busy calendar year with 15 events in the books, the highest number of events they’ve ever hosted in one year. There were two new destinations explored, Daegu, South Korea and Noumea, New Caledonia. Due to the success of those events, the APT is set to return to Daegu in March 2017 and is currently looking to plug a date in for Noumea later in the year.
One of the biggest highlights for the APT this year was undoubtedly its return to Macau. The brand was absent from the gambling mecca for three years, and after its comeback festival in late October, they quickly returned to host their APT Finale in Casino Lisboa.
APT Kick-off 2017
As announced, the APT Kick-Off 2017 festival will be held at Resorts World Manila, Philippines on January 11th-19th. Through the years, the APT has held numerous poker festivals at RWM, attracting many players from all over the world. Next year, the APT Kick-off will feature 18 APT signature side events and a US$1,650 entry fee Main Event. We will have details posted within the coming days.
Now that the year has come to a close, the APT would like to thank everyone who came out to support the APT Finale Macau 2016 and all the other APT events hosted this year. It was a great year and you helped make that happen. We look forward to bringing you more exciting events in various destinations all over the world in the coming year. We’d like to wish everyone happy holidays and we’ll see you in 2017!