Poker is arguably the most popular and most recognizable casino game in the world. Of course, its popularity and longevity in the casino scene allowed it to bloom into a competitive sport where the best of the best would compete to get the grand prize. Winners of these poker events come from around the world, with some of them even residing in Asia. For this article, we are focusing on some of the best poker players who are currently living in Asia. The list is in no particular order, as ranking them can be quite difficult since they can either win or lose in the risky game of poker.
Kicking off the list is Kitty Kuo, who is considered as one of the best female players not only in Asia but also worldwide. Kitty’s full name is Hui Chen Kuo, and she was born in Taiwan but eventually moved to Macau. Kuo has been joining poker tournaments since 2007, and it was also in that same year that she received media attention when she won first place in the PokerStars Macau Poker Cup (MPC), in which she won a total of USD 71,899. She is currently ranked #21 in the Global Poker Index (GPI) Asia Rankings, winning more than USD 2 million in total for participating in poker tournaments.
Another good poker player from Taiwan, James Chen, has consistently won big prizes in tournaments, but he was recently fallen out of the Top 10 for games played since 2019. Despite not placing 1st in most of the tournaments he has participated in, he has accumulated over USD 7 million in earnings just by playing poker. His most recent big win was in the Pot Limit Omaha – Higher Roller 8-Handed event, where he earned USD 1,000,253 after placing 2nd. James Chen is placed at rank #59 in the GPI Asia Rankings in 2020.
Born in Malaysia, Paul Phua moved to Singapore at 15 years old to continue his studies. However, what he didn’t expect that his career would flourish not in Singapore but in Macau, where he began working in 2006 under Steve Wynn, founder of the Wynn Macau casino. For four years, Phua has only helped in strategizing business plans for the casino, and it was only in 2010 when he began playing at major poker tournaments held in the same location. Phua has been a controversial figure in the gambling scene when he was arrested, along with his son Darren Phua and five others, for organizing an illegal gambling ring for the FIFA World Cup in 2014. He was acquitted from the crime a year after he was arrested, but the six others, including his son, pleaded guilty for the charges. Currently, Paul Phua is ranked #3 in the GPI Rankings, and he has earned more than USD 18 million for playing poker.
Yan Shing “Anson” Tsang
Yan Shing Tsang, more known by his nickname “Anson,” is a prolific poker player who first represented Canada, but now played for Hong Kong. It was during his poker tournament stint in Hong Kong that he was able to win bigger prizes in poker tournaments, and he used the money that he earned in local tournaments to participate in poker events in other countries. One of the biggest cash prizes that he won in his career was in 2016 when he ranked 1st place in the Monte-Carlo One Drop Extravaganza, which had the grand prize of USD 12,248,912. As of 2020, the prize is the highest money won by an Asian player. Anson Tsang is placed at rank #34 in the Asian GPI.
Pete Yen Han Chen
Rising to poker prominence since 2011, Taiwan’s Pete Yen Han Chen is today known as the best poker player in his home country after placing 3rd in the GPI Asia Rankings. He was able to earn more than $2.5 million just by playing poker and participating in many events in one tournament. Take note that the winnings listed on his GPI are only the ones that he earned from major poker tournaments, so he may have earned more from playing online poker or other casino games during his free time. Today, he mostly plays poker tournaments in Southeast Asia, although he would visit other regions of the world every now and then.
Daniel Chi Tang
Ranked at #2 in the GPI Asian Rankings in 2020, Daniel Chi Tang is considered as one of the best newcomers in the poker scene, only having risen in the rankings in 2019. Like Anson Tsang, Daniel Chi Tang is playing for Hong Kong, where he started his career as a professional poker player. He has earned more than USD 8 million, which is quite a large amount of money, considering that he only started playing professionally in 2013.
Christopher Michael Soyza
Regarded as 2020’s best poker player in Asia, Malaysia’s Christopher Michael Soyza is currently ranked #1 in the GPI Asian Rankings. Since 2018, Soyza is able to win major poker tournaments in several countries, and if he doesn’t win the grand prize, it is guaranteed that he is placed at the top 20. As of 2020, Soyza earned more than USD 8 million from his winnings in poker tournaments, and it is possible that his earnings will reach more than USD 10 million before the end of the year.
Those are seven of the best players of poker in Asia, although there are hundreds more that can be considered as better than them. However, most of the listed player’s rankings in the GPI are pretty hard to beat, which is the reason why they are well respected in the poker scene.