How I won the Asia Player of the Year award

bryan_huang_mpcc_toc.jpgFour years ago when PokerStars stepped into Macau, the gaming capital of Asia, no one had ever heard of Texas Hold'em. Week by week and month by month, poker began to spread its reach throughout Asia and hordes of poker fans from all over Asia began recognizing Macau as the poker destination for them. The Macau Poker Cup was first held in May 2008 at PokerStars Macau (then at the Grand Waldo) and had 33 players. Over the last two years the record for entrants in the Red Dragon reached 321 players and continues to grow.

Things started slow in the year and one of my resolutions for 2010 was to make my mark in the Asian Poker scene. In 2008 I was named the "Rookie of the Year" and was sponsored by PokerStars from event to event. I am very fortunate to be signed as a Team PokerStars Pro in late 2009 and my hunger to win was more insatiable then ever before.

As 2010 began I started a list of goals I had for myself. One of which was to do well in the Asia Player Of the Year Race (APOY). The year started slow and I was overwhelmed with my hunger to win which initially led to impatience. I overworked myself and had no balance in my life, playing 20 hours a day both live and online trying to notch wins and cashes throughout. I managed to win the Emperor Series but the long hours and imbalanced lifestyle took its toll on me (more can be read in this previous blog entry).

After a break from Poker to recuperate, I was on fire and found myself in the hunt for the Asia Player of the Year by coming 2nd in July's Red Dragon event held at PokerStars Macau. With that and a few final table finishes I made early in the year I found myself 2nd on the APOY leaderboard. The turning point came when I won the October Special, a small bounty event held at PokerStars Macau and that propelled me to the very top of the leaderboard.

The race between me and fellow Team Pro Raymond Wu was really close but little did we know how "down to the wire" it would actually become.

It came down to the Macau Poker Cup Championships which hosted the final 10 numbered events for the APOY. In the event No.1 me and Raymond Wu were in the final 13 and I played a pot for 30% of the chips in play with Q♦Q♣ vs. 9♦9♣. Alas a 9 hit the flop and I was eliminated in 13th place with no points. Raymond managed to final table that event and drew closer to retaking the lead.

The remaining eight events were similar with Raymond and myself making the final two tables event after event but both continuously taking beat after beat to finish outside of the final table (only final table finishes gave points).

It all came down to the last event, a $1,000HKD rebuy and boy was this close. We both came prepared armed with 50 rebuys if necessary (although the record rebuys I did in a similar event was 22 times) and similar to the preceding events we both went deep. I eventually busted in 17th place and was left to sweat Raymond's finish in the event. He had to come in 2nd or better to win the event. As players fell out of the tournament one by one the final table was set and Raymond won several hands to finally make it to the final THREE.

He unfortunately ran a pair of 6's into a pair of Queens and finished 3rd. It was the first time I had to rail against someone whom I have spent my last few years railing for and it truly was a bittersweet moment to see him bust especially after coming so close.

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Me, left, and Raymond

Who would have expect that over 43 events the decider would come in the last event of the year and not to mention, the last three players of that event! It was pure excitement and the competition came from no one else but my good friend and fellow team mate Raymond who played a high level of poker all year. This level of competition just made the Asia Player of The Year win all that sweeter and one that I would remember for a long long time to come.

Winning the Asia Player Of The Year 2010 wearing the PokerStars badge has to be the greatest accomplishment in my poker career and all I can hope for is to go from strength to strength! Next Year I will try to do a "Tony Hachem" by winning back-to-back "Player of the Year" titles and I hear more events would be carrying points which means more poker and a bigger challenge!

Bryan Huang
@PokerStars in Bryan Huang