WSOP 2016: Do not ignore Naoya Kihara, $1500 HORSE chip leader

With 201 people still alive in the World Series of Poker $1,500 HORSE event, a survivor could be forgiven for not knowing everyone at the table. There were nearly 800 people in the field, and things get blurry when one is cycling through five games. Only one day of play has passed so far, and there is a long way to go before the money bubble breaks. Regardless, if you or someone you know are still alive in the HORSE event, do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with Naoya Kihara.




Kihara is quiet and unassuming, a gentleman from Japan with a smile that goes on for days. He will also happily eviscerate you and keep smiling while stacking your chips. The member of Team PokerStars Pro Online may look the part of an easy target, but he is anything but.

It's been four years since Kihara announced himself at the WSOP with a half-million-dollar win in the six-handed PLO event. While that is his "only" bracelet, Kihara has 15 cashes in his WSOP career and in world-wide rankings is Japan's second-biggest earner in history. Don't let that smile fool you. 


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Naoya Kihara

After one day of play in the HORSE event, Kihara leads the remaining field of 201 players with 85,900. He'll be coming back to 1,200-2,400 blinds when play re-starts later today. He'll also have another member of the red spade brigade in the field with him. 




Andre Akkari currently sits in 29th place with a comfortable 50,300, despite the fact he discovered yesterday that his eyes might be getting a little old for stud games. (Having recently experience this phenomenon myself, I have nothing but sympathy for the man from Sao Paulo. Sorry, Andre.)

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Andre Akkari

The HORSE event will re-start at noon PST today and is scheduled to hit the money before finishing the day. 

Meanwhile, we need to offer our sincere congratudolences to Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein who finished in ninth place last night in the $1,500 2-7 Lowball event. While good for a $5,781 cash, it came with the sting of being within a few places of winning his fourth WSOP bracelet. 

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Barry Greenstein

Today should be a fun one at the Rio. The $1,500 crowd gets a six-handed NLHE event, while the $10,000 rollers get the super-fun $10,000 Dealer's Choice Championship. 

In the meantime, good luck to Kihara and Akkari as they work on getting that $1,500 HORSE bracelet. 


is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Follow him on Twitter: @BradWillis. WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com