2012 Asia Player of the Year race begins this week
As PokerStars Macau at Casino Grand Lisboa begin their final preparations for the Macau Poker Cup: Red Dragon series -- which runs from February 18-26 -- it will also launch the 4th season for the Asia Player of the Year (APOY).
Past winners of Asia's most prestigious poker award include Kitty Kuo (2009), Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang (2010), and the PokerStars sponsored player Hung-sheng "Shaq" Lin (2011).
In those 3 years there have been 131 Official APOY tournaments awarding over HKD $111,000,000.
So the question is, Who are the top names in the Asian poker scene that we're most likely to see amongst the main APOY leaderboard in 2012?
Here's a look at the All-Time lists by winnings, points, and final tables.
If you ever read Anthony Holden's book Big Deal he refers to poker as "a game, in which money is simply the means of keeping score" and if you agree then Team PokerStars:Online player Randy Lew would be considered the best with more than HKD 1.4M in winnings than his closest competitor.
Lew's victory was fantastic and the American-born player certainly has his fair share of accomplishments at the young age of 26. However, there is no player with more than 1 major title in Asia and so the winner of the biggest APPT event last November was naturally going to top this list.
Top 10 Players by Winnings
Randy Lew (Canada) -- HKD $3,772,000
Jimmy Pan (Netherlands) -- HKD $2,367,000
Devan Tang (Hong Kong) -- HKD $2,086,450
Nicholas Cho Fai Wong (Hong Kong) -- HKD $2,052,800
Raiden Kan (Malaysia) -- HKD $2,023,683
Hung-Sheng "Shaq" Lin (Chinese Taipei) -- HKD $1,701,430
Zuo Wang (China) -- HKD $1,429,800
Jeffrey Rossiter (Australia) -- HKD $1,306,000
Julian Hasse (Germany) -- HKD $1,148,750
Mark Benasa (Philippines) -- HKD $1,100,000
If you are in favor of the APOY ranking system -- which measures a combination of consistency, buy-ins, and place finished -- then determining the best by points puts Shaq Lin at the no. 1 spot. Lin's amazing two year run has been well documented and it's no surprise to see his name along with Raiden Kan who has been the top-ranked player from Malaysia for 3 consecutive years.
Bryan Huang and Celina Lin are are the highest ranked Team PokerStars Pros and are virtually tied to round out the Top 5.
Top 10 Players by APOY Points
Hung-Sheng "Shaq" Lin (Chinese Taipei) -- 8,606 pts
Raiden Kan (Malaysia) -- 7,885 pts
Tae Joon Noh (Korea) -- 5,954 pts
Bryan Huang (Singapore) -- 5,884 pts
Celina Lin (China) -- 5,828 pts
Chen An Lin (Chinese Taipei) -- 5,747 pts
Aaron Hung-Chang Lin (Chinese Taipei) -- 5,643 pts
Devan Tang (Hong Kong) -- 4,808 pts
"Kitty" Hui-chen Kuo (Chinese Taipei) -- 4,752 pts
Justin Chan (Hong Kong) -- 3,878 pts
By Final Tables
Some people believe that titles, winnings, and point systems are somewhat random and that the true measurement of a poker player is their consistency reach the final table of a tournament. If that's the case then Shaq Lin and Celina Lin (not related) lead the pack with 15 final tables a piece.
Best players without a title are clearly Macau's Milton De Spain and China's Alex Chieng who haven't managed their way into the winners circle after 13 and 10 final tables respectively.
Top 10 Players by Final Tables
Hung-Sheng "Shaq" Lin (Chinese Taipei) -- 15 FTs, 2 titles
Celina Lin (China) -- 15 FTs, 1 title
Raiden Kan (Malaysia) -- 14 FTs, 2 titles
Aaron Hung-Chang Lin (Chinese Taipei) -- 13 FTs, 2 titles
Milton De Spain (Macau) -- 13 FTs, 0 titles
Bryan Huang (Singapore) -- 12 FTs, 3 titles
Ted Wang (China) -- 11 FTs, 2 titles
Sparrow Cheung (Hong Kong) -- 10 FTs, 2 titles
Alexandre Chieng (China) -- 10 FTs, 0 titles
Chen An Lin (Chinese Taipei) -- 9 FTs, 3 titles
So who's the best in the emerging poker world of Asia?
There's only one name that appears on all 3 lists and that's Shaq Lin making him the most bankable player on the Asian poker circuit today.
While there are arguments otherwise, Shaq is clearly the man to beat right now and players will get their first chance challenge the reigning APOY at the MPC: Red Dragon this weekend.