PokerStars Festival Korea: Yuki Ko headlines strong Japanese contingent

There's no denying that the Japanese are out in force for PokerStars Festival Korea this week. Players from the neighbour to the East made up 86 unique entries for 43.65% of the Main Event field.

Perhaps the most notable of the sizable contingent is PLO wizard and high stakes cash game specialist Yuki Ko. He may have fired (and bricked) five bullets in the High Roller but don't let that fool you. Ko is a dangerous foe and he finds himself still chasing the Main Event title deep into the penultimate day.

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The face of a man planning to take your chips

Ko doesn't speak much English so we called in fellow high stakes crusher Gary Pepper to tell us more about him. Pepper is a New Zealand expat who now resides in Australia but he met Ko during his six years living in Japan.

"He's a Japanese poker hero," Pepper said of Ko. "Japan's best PLO player by far."

Ko's results support that statement as he shipped a PLO event at the Aussie Millions last year for $37,382. But while Ko has $272,261 in tournament cashes we've been told that makes up just a fraction of his earnings online and in live cash games.

"He used to crush $2/$5 Zoom games on PokerStars and now he plays sick high stakes in Macau and Vegas," Pepper explained.

With such a rich history for pulling up a seat at the nosebleeds one might wonder why Ko would make the trip out to Korea in the first place.

"He just loves poker as much as anyone I know," said Pepper. "He would still come to our $5/$10 games after playing for ten times the stakes in Macau."

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The face of a man who has just taken your chips

It seems Ko's decision to fly out is paying off as he currently sits third in chips with just 15 players remaining here. He helped build to his impressive stack of 660,000 after finding value from tablemate Xiangbiao Zhu earlier. With around 50,000 already in the pot and the flop spread J♣7♥2♣ Zhu checked from the big blind over to Ko on the button. Ko fired at it for 20,000 and was called before the 5♥ fell on the turn.

Checked over to Ko again he continued for 70,000 and was once more met with a call. The K♦ landed on the end and Zhu checked a final time. Ko showed no signs of slowing down, instead loading up and betting 110,000. Zhu paid it off and Ko tabled K♥T♠ for a rivered top pair to take down the pot.

Day 2 hurtles onwards here and Ko hasn't seemed to put a foot wrong. The aim is to play down to an official final table of eight so let's see if Ko can keep it up and make the cut. You can find out tonight when we recap today's proceedings and preview the final tablists or in the meantime you can follow along from home at PokerNews.

Brad Kain
@PokerStars in PokerStars Festival