There are no friends at the poker table. Any elite player will tell you that no matter how close you are with someone, it’s all business when the cards are dealt. Away from the felt though, the game can be the catalyst for great friendships.
As is the story for Team PokerStars Pro Bryan Huang, and his three best friends in poker, fellow Team PokerStars Pro Kosei Ichinose, and established players in their own right, Nicky Tao Jin and Akira Ohyama. They’re all in Seoul this week trying to land another big score.
The group first made contact through poker and have since developed a bond stretching over four years now. “We all met in Macau during the Macau Poker Cup” Huang said. And Jin explained that they “became really good friends after Black Friday”
Now the four have all made a name for themselves in the poker world. Huang is number one on the Singapore all-time money list and has over $1 million in combined live and online earnings. His biggest score was back in 2008 when he finished third in the APPT Macau Main Event for $153,841.
Ohyama, better known as Clutch Hero on PokerStars, is currently ranked third in Japan for online MTTs, with over $1.8 million in cashes. His biggest win to date was $54,378 for third place in the PokerStars Sunday 500 in 2010.
Jin or shumeilove online is from China and has accumulated close to $2.5 million in online scores. Currently ranked eighth in his homeland, Jin final tabled the PokerStars Sunday Million in 2010 for $69,600.
Team PokerStars Pro Kosei Ichinose is a Japan local, currently ranked second in the country for online MTTs. With over $2.5 million in combined earnings, Ichinose’s best result came in 2013 when he placed fourth in a PokerStars SCOOP event for $106,320.
All talented poker players, the four agree that their friendship has definitely played a part in their success. “We all got together and started playing, always going through hand histories with each other. It’s always important to have really good players around you” Huang said. “It’s so great to see four years down the track how all of us have picked up sponsorship. It’s just amazing how our small crew has gotten recognized.”
Not only do they help each other with strategy and support, they also make each other money. “We swap action,” Huang said, “We’ve had a piece of each other for some of our big scores.” Ohyama has a percentage of him here in Seoul, and at this stage it looks like he made a good investment.
Huang is still in contention for the Main Event as we get deep into Day 2 here for APPT Seoul. With only 33 players left, there are 27 payouts and he has around 180,000 in chips to play with. Fresh off a final table at the ANZPT Perth Main Event, we’ll see if Huang can claim the title this week, right here at the APPT.