APPT8 Macau Day 1a: Spot the player of the year

It's not too often that we have an Asia Player of the Year and an ANZ Player of the Year playing on the same day of the same tournament. That's simply because generally the ANZ POY is an Aussie tournament regular and the Asia POY is a Macau regular. Makes perfect sense considering the tournaments that qualify for each particular POY are held in each respective region. It's just a law of averages thing.

That's what makes Day 1a of the APPT8 Macau Main Event a little unique as both the reigning ANZ POY Iori Yogo and reigning Asia POY Jian Yang are in today's field.

Yang was deemed the 2013 Asia Player of the Year after posting just three results. That might not seem like many, but each of them accounted for enough to finish on top of the leader board.

His first result was in January of 2013 when he finished 4th in a Macau Poker Cup side event. Yang then went on and claimed victory in the ACOP Platinum Series Main Event in September.

This tournament success accounted for HK$339,500, which is a solid amount of money, but was nothing compared to the HK$1.6 million Yang claimed for winning the HK$25,000 ACOP Warm-Up in November. It was this result that locked up Yang's player of the year, which meant a PokerStars LIVE Macau sponsorship and a permanent etching on the Asia Player of the Year trophy.

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Jian Yang would love to become the first back-to-back Asia POY winner

Yogo had barely played here in Macau before this year, opting instead to grind the Australasian poker circuit, which was obviously a good decision considering his immense results and the title of ANZ Player of the Year.

Yogo had an amazing 13 separate tournament results in Australia alone in 2013, many of which counted towards the ANZ Player of the Year race. The first time Yogo burst onto the scene was in the 2013 ANZPT Perth Main Event when he finished as the runner-up.

Yogo then continued his massive year by finishing 11th in the ANZPT Sydney Main Event and scoring another runner-up, this time in the ANZPT Repechage in Melbourne.

That kind of year meant Yogo won an ANZ sponsorship package and a coveted POY title that not many before him had ever won. All in all Yogo posted just over US$350,000 in tournament results in 2013, which boosted him to 5th on Japan's All-Time money list.

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Iori Yogo is looking pretty happy here at APPT Macau

Yogo has posted three results here in Asia this year, including a victory in the Turbo Bounty side event at the recent APPT Seoul. He's still a long way off the current 2014 Asia Player of the Year leader Hao Chen, but he's certainly in contention.

Speaking of Hao Chen, he's also in today's Day 1a field!

Chen sits atop the current leader board after winning a little tournament that holds the record for the largest tournament ever held in Asia. That tournament was the recent Macau Millions and Chen defeated a monster field of 1,804 players.

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Hao Chen got rid of the trademark blond streak in his hair

Chen, Yogo and Yang are joined in today's field by a couple of other players who sit high on the Asia Player of the Year race - Victor Teng and Percy Yung. These two picked up most of their POY points when they finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in the MPC20 Main Event back in January.

There is also a player in today's field who is high up on the ANZ Player of the Year leader board after finishing 2nd in the ANZPT Perth Main Event. The Australian goes by the name Dean Blatt and the APPT Macau Main Event marks the first time that Blatt has played poker in Macau. If he puts a run together this week he may find himself in the unique position of being in contention on both of this region's player of the year races.

The current Asia Player of the Year and ANZ leader board can be found on the APPT website, while you can sweat all the POY superstars mentioned in this article in the live updates blog at the top of the APPT8 Macau page.