With the launch of Poker Portal Asia’s revamped Player Database, users can now search by country and find out who are the top players from their respective homelands according to how much they have cashed in Asia Pacific tournaments since 2008. To coincide with the launch of this new feature we’re releasing a series of articles showcasing the top cashers in each major Asian poker country.
Japan has recently seen one of its players win the country’s first ever World Series of Poker (WSOP) gold bracelet so it’s only fitting that we take a look at the top Japanese cashers in Asia Pacific tournaments over the last few years. When Naoya Kihara claimed his historic WSOP USD $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha Six-Handed event win from a field of 419 players on June 20, 2012, it seemed somewhat surprising that there had never been another Japanese player scoop a bracelet before him in the WSOP’s 43-year history.
However, the long wait can perhaps be explained by government restrictions placed on poker played in Japan. Cash games and even tournament poker with cash prizes are not legal in the country. Instead, the scene is built upon tournaments and tours like the Japan Poker Tour where players can usually win seats in big tournaments in other countries.
With 193 players from Japan listed in the Poker Portal Asia database, there’s clearly not a lack of good players coming from the country. Here are the top three cashers and just a few of the notables:
Top 3 Players
1. Tetsuya Tsuchikawa USD $150,666
With 15 in-the-money finishes over the last few years, Tetsuya Tsuchikawa has cashed in more Asia Pacific tournaments than any other Japanese player. His biggest score came in the August 2011 Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon when he finished runner-up to Singapore’s Patrick Lee for a USD $91,869 payday. Since then, Tsuchikawa has been a fixture on the Asian tournament circuit, entering events in Cebu, Manila and Macau. While he hasn’t replicated his huge win last year, Tsuchikawa has claimed a couple of side event titles at the Macau Poker Cup and APPT Cebu in 2012.
Unfortunately not much can be said about Yoshihiro Tasaka. The entire bulk of his winnings came when he took out the APPT Seoul Main Event in 2008 from a field of 165 players. Tasaka won the tournament in stunning fashion when he three bet his “favourite hand” of 9♥ 2♣ and then called off a four-bet shove from his opponent for slightly over double the bet. Turned out his cards were live against his opponent’s A♠ 4♣ and he then paired his nine on the board to take down the title.
3. Kenichi Takarabe USD $100,723 (pictured)
Kenichi Takarabe is another player who has had the majority of his winnings come from one big score. He took out the July 2010 Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon for USD $79,297, defeating Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang at heads up in the tournament. Since taming the Red Dragon, he cashed a couple more times in Macau and once in the Philippines in 2010 but we haven’t seen him with another money finish for the last two years. However, a quick internet search says he did cash in three other tournaments in 2011 but they were in the US (one in a WSOP event) and Spain so they do not appear on our database results that just cover tournaments in Asia Pacific.
16. Hirotoshi Nakabo USD $46,635
He may not be one of the biggest winners on the Asian tournament scene but he is one of its most friendly and entertaining players. Hirotoshi Nakabo can usually been ‘heard’ before he is ‘seen’ in a poker tournament, meeting triumph and disaster on the felt with equal outcry. He also has some pretty solid results on his poker resumé, which kicked off with a final table finish in the March 2010 Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon for USD $14,296. In fact, all of Nakabo’s 10 cashes have come in tournaments in Macau.
If anyone was going to win Japan’s first WSOP bracelet we might have guessed it was going to be Yasuhiro Waki. He is known as one Japanese player not shy about entering big tournaments all over the world. Although he is yet to take down a Main Event title, Waki did final table the APT Asian Series Cebu, finishing in 9th place for USD $2,559. His biggest cash in Asia Pacific came in the form of a 3rd place (USD $21,300) in the Aussie Millions 2012 Heads Up event, which was also his most recent cash.
21. Yu Kurita USD $38,218
Usually recognised on the tables by her big pink headphones, Yu Kurita is the highest placed female on our Japan money list. Her six cashes are headlined by a USD $23,627 4th place win in the HKD $15,000 APPT Macau NLH side event in 2011. She also came close to a big money finish in the 2012 APT Philippines Main Event, instead taking home a respectable USD $8,000 for 14th place.
For the full list of players ranked in Japan, head to Poker Portal Asia’s Player Database.
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