On September 25, 2012, Filipino poker player Jav Medina claimed the championship title of the APT Asian Series Manila and took home the first place purse of PhP3,521,000. We recently caught up with Medina and found out some very interesting facts that got him to the felt and to the top.
How does it feel to be champion of the APT Asian Series Manila and most especially how has that achievement changed your life?
Overall, I feel really blessed and thankful for the win. I consider poker as one of my life’s passions, and to become champion… it just serves as sweet validation for the choices, learning’s and principles that I stuck with, and eventually got me to this point. My life has definitely changed no doubt. Certainly there are more opportunities and emerging responsibilities now– things as simple as being more conscious on how I conduct myself on the felt, and just trying to be a better example and ambassador for the sport. Winning the APT has opened up some game-changing opportunities for me as well. Through the win, I’ve been able to continuously meet and learn with some of the country’s top poker players (people I really respect) who I can now share notes and learning’s with, and just help bring each other’s game to the next level. With regard to the money, I’ve just been trying my best to be myself and maintain the same lifestyle.
Tell us about your poker history, when you first started.
I started out playing in Ceasar’s Palace along Osmena Hi-way (SLEX extension) Pasay City back in Aug 2010. I had just left my corporate job to pursue a business of managing funds in the stock market full time. Ceasar’s palace was owned by my cousin so I’d go there initially to support the business after some night class program I took nearby. Over time, I really got into the game and felt like I had a natural fit for the skill set needed, so I just kept playing and learning more about it. Although I really loved playing the game, it was initially frustrating. At some point my bankroll was down P100k 15mos into starting the “hobby.” I actually had already decided to quit and said that my last tournament would be the satellite for the 2011 8M Resorts World Manila Poker Fiesta. I ended up finishing 18th there, qualifying for a seat to the main event, and eventually finished 4th at the main event giving me my first big score. The rest I guess is history…
From what we’ve heard, you won a couple of satellites to get to the Main Event. Can you tell us about it?
Yes, I actually tried to join every APT super satellite and satellite I could since it started in RWM in July. Not only did I get my main event seat from the satellite, but it also helped me practice and familiarize myself with players who I eventually played with at the main event.
Coming into the final table, you were running second in chips but you were up against some very aggressive players such as Jojo Tech, Soo Seung Jeon, Jessie Leonarez, Victor Chong, what was your strategy being a somewhat laid back player?
My strategy was to simply develop a good understanding / read of the table— and just work from there.
What was the most challenging part of the final table?
Most challenging part definitely was to just keep my emotions in check. Staying even-keeled and not letting the heat of the moment interfere with my decision making and just behaving the right way. Also, during the early part, I had some of the most aggressive players to my right/left so I had to adjust to that as well.
What were some good reads and tells you capitalized on at the table?
After developing a good sense of what the table was like, I had also noticed a few players who didn’t change their style of play during the latter part when the situation called for it. This was also validated by Vic de Guzman who was at my rail who gave me confidence to shift gears when it was needed.
You had a lot of fans cheering you on, were any of them mentors and inspirations to help you claim the championship? If yes, who and in what way?
Yes, there are actually 2 in particular, without whom, I could not have claimed the championship. Mike Cua who was the 2010 APT Champion, who I met a week prior to the main event, helped me with overall tournament strategy. He couldn’t attend let alone play due to a family emergency. Vic de Guzman who was also last year’s APT Champion, pretty much coached me throughout the final table and gave me a lot of insight into the players I was playing against. Knowing and learning from them I consider to be one of the blessings from this experience.
Although you became massive chip leader after doubling up with Aces against Hisashi Ogi then later cracking Victor Chong’s Aces, at what point in the final table did you actually realize that this tournament was going to be in the bag?
That was the one thought that I had tried to keep out of my head. The moment you think it’s in the bag, is the same moment you start to lose your edge. I came to that massive chip lead from being less than 6 big blinds 3x during the tournament so I knew that anything could still happen especially when you’re playing against great players.
How did you feel coming into the heads up round against Japan’s poker pro, Tetsuya Tsuchikawa?
I have a lot of respect for the guy. I knew he was the #1 ranked Japanese poker player so i had to come in with a clear game plan even if I had a 3:1 stack advantage. Just listening to my rail, I tried to utilize whatever advantage I had. As a matter of mindset, we had expected to play at least an hour heads-up against him so I think that helped us continuously learn and adjust to the play as it progressed.
After winning the APT are there other tournaments you plan to compete in soon? How about the APT Asian Series Cambodia this November?
I’m definitely competing in more tournaments. Right now, I’m trying to scale down on other responsibilities to allocate more time for poker. I’ve always watched and dreamed of playing in the WSOP so maybe someday. Right now I’m looking into Asian / regional tournaments as the next step. As for APT Cambodia, unfortunately I have a previous engagement that I’ll need to attend to but I’ll definitely see and hear from you guys on the next stops!
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