2017 ACOP: Superlative Lau tightens grip on Asia POY award

Editor's note: The post below was written on the evening of October 25, at which point the 2017 Asia Championship of Poker (ACOP) Main Event was still nine-handed. Alan Lau was among those still in the 308-player tournament. The following day, Lau won that tournament, capping an exceptional 2017 at clinching the Asia Player of the Year (APOY) leader board in emphatic fashion. Lau immediately made the post below a museum piece, but it's still worth a read even knowing what we now know. For something a little more recent, check out Lau's post Asia POY ceremony interview below.

At time of writing Alan Lau is sitting at the final table of the Asia Championship of Poker Main Event. But if you are reading this any time after Saturday, October 28, 2017 (at which point Lau may yet be ACOP champion) he will be better known as the first two-time Asia Player of the Year (APOY).


Alan Lau: 2017 Asia Player of the Year

The ACOP final table is the cherry on the top of a superlative year from the man from Hong Kong, who has an all but unassailable lead at the top of the APOY leader board. Only Sparrow Cheung, another top performer in Asia this year, is running Lau anywhere close, but there's an enormous gap between the two.

According to Fred Leung of PokerStars Macau, who tracks these things more closely than anybody, "It's still mathematically possible for Sparrow to catch up but that would require something like three outright title wins PLUS Alan not improving further in the Main or scoring in other side events."

The most remarkable thing is that this will be Lau's second POY award, having first topped the Asia charts in 2015. This accolade is already known to award the most consistently excellent performer in the region, and for Lau to hit the heights twice puts him high above his peers.

Here's how the ACOP Main Event affects the POY standings:

Points Awarded in Main Event:
1: 3744 pts
2: 3120 pts
3: 2496 pts
4: 1872 pts
5: 1560 pts
6: 1248 pts
7: 1092 pts
8: 936 pts

Here's the Top 5 of the APOY leader board, before results from the ACOP Main Event in which Jack Wu (27th) also cashed.

RankPlayerLocationPointsWinnings (HKD)Final TablesTitles
1Alan LauHong Kong12,842$4,604,790208
2Sparrow CheungHong Kong10,664$2,198,750333
3Pete ChenTaiwan6,408$1,671,192210
4Xingbiao ZhuChina5,863$847,09393
5Jack WuTaiwan5,374$589,601171

See the complete POY rankings.
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    Alan Lau Interview

You're the first person to win the APOY title twice, tell me what's going through your mind?

Alan Lau: I'm overwhelmed, it's unreal, I feel very happy! I've put a lot of hard work into poker over the last few years and I really enjoyed the process involved with making it to this point in my professional career.

Which of your nine titles this year means the most to you?

Lau: It's [winning] the ACOP Main Event [that means the most] and it's not even close.

Winning that was so special because the field was so tough and although it was only 308 players, almost all are great players. Especially the final table, all the players at the final table are beasts. I was so happy, I never thought I could win that final table and it was amazing.

The other day when I went to dinner with my friends in the Hong Kong Poker Player Association (HKPPA), we were looking over a 2017 ACOP program and I joked that we would see my name and photo in next year's addition, alongside all the past winners. But I was just joking - It's such a prestigious event to win!

They say "Once is luck, twice is skill", but I think my second APOY is definitely more of a "Once is luck, twice is A LOT OF LUCK"!


Lucky Alan Lau

To say that I have been super lucky is not false modesty. To be able to win three, big-field main events in one calendar year is simply unreal. Sometimes, winning or coming close is simply down to one flip or two.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Lau: Here is a list of thank yous. Thank you to PokerStars LIVE Macau. I can never understand how you can organise so many tournaments so regularly and so orderly, while at the same time keeping so many people happy. Thanks for running these events, and running them so amazingly. Mark, Fred, Rex, Jane, Lorie, thank you.

Thank you to all the fellow players. I know I have taken a bit of your money this year. But our competition has made me a stronger player - all the late night dinners discussing hands, all the quiet encouraging words and loud cheers - I will remember them forever. Thank you.

Thank you to Amy, my almost-wife, who's been super supportive. It's tough being a spouse of a travelling poker player, and knowing that you have a real job that can support me when I go broke is so very reassuring. Seriously, without your support, I don't think I could've lasted one tournament series, let alone the whole year.


Amy (left) and Alan Lau's parents (right) at the APOY ceremony

Thank you to HKPPA. HKPPA is like a family to me. It's a new family, but we are trying to grow poker in Hong Kong in a positive way - so if you want to join, come and speak to me any time or visit our Facebook page.

Thank you to Sparrow [Park Yu Cheung]. Sparrow has been a good friend since I started playing live poker. I cannot imagine how anyone could make over thirty final tables in calendar year. Without you pushing me all the way to the finish in this APOY race, I don't think I would've achieved what I have achieved today.

Some people say poker is a hard way to make an easy living. Well, it may have been hard, but it has been well worth it. Thank you all for being here, and see you all again in 2018. ♤ ♡ ♢ ♧

Howard Swains
@howardswains in Live Poker