APPT Cebu: The character of Bobo
Over the years we've seen some entertaining, outlandish and just plain confusing characters at the poker tables. It's what makes the game so great. People from all backgrounds, all walks of life and incredibly diverse personalities coming together with a common interest in poker.
When I think about the game's biggest characters, in Australia I think of guys like Tony G or Billy "The Croc" Argyros. In the States, how can you go past the antics of the "Poker Brat" Phil Hellmuth or the complex Phil "Unabomber" Laak?
Sure, these guys are not everyone's cup of tea, but they have gained respect by being able to build their poker "character" over years of play at the tables.
When looking for a similar character in Asia, it's very difficult because it's still early days in the development of these sorts of players here. Many are still learning the intricacies of the game - a requirement before you can even think about doing anything too eccentric at the table.
Perhaps Japan's Hirotoshi Nakabo is one who comes to mind, but another is a man who is still alive here in the APPT Cebu Main Event.
We first met Daoxing "Bobo" Chen at the APPT Macau back in 2009 and, let's be honest, he drove us completely insane.
The final table was painfully slow with Bobo constantly and unreasonably stalling every time it was his turn to act. It got so bad that TD Danny McDonagh was forced to call the clock permanently on Chan to give him only 60 seconds for every single decision. Bobo finished 3rd for a near US$240,000 score and we were relieved when our long day had come to an end.
However several years have passed since then, and in my frequent visits to Macau, I've learnt to appreciate the uniqueness of Bobo's character. He doesn't know my name, and doesn't speak any English, but he always comes up, shakes my hand and says hello. I've watched him play a lot of poker, both in the PokerStars Macau Poker Room and in the big cash games over at the Wynn Macau. His style is, well, unique, with the limp-check-raise-overbet-shove his signature manoeuvre. It's not one you'll find in any poker manual, but hey, that's what makes Bobo so interesting to watch.
Even today, we've observed Bobo starting to get up to some of his old tricks. The clock has been called on him twice already this afternoon. Both times preflop. Once when facing a raise of just 7,000. Bobo stood from his chair, put his arms above his head, stretched, pointed to the pot, pointed to his opponent's chips, cut down his own chips, looked at his remaining stack, looked at the big screen, pointed at the pot again and then folded. We gave a chuckle and appreciated the Bobo antics for what they were - unique.
If he survives today, then settle in folks, we could be in for a long day tomorrow. Although this time around, I won't be anti-sweating. Instead, I'll be appreciating the possible birth of one of Asia's first true poker characters.