Masato Yokosawa becomes Asia’s first WPT champion

WPtlogoWPT Korea is in the books, with the young Japanese amateur Masato Yokosawa claiming the title and an even $100,000. It was the WPT’s first-ever stop in Asia, being held in the beautiful island province of Jejudo, sometimes referred to as “Korea’s Hawaii.”

It attracted a fairly small field of 137 players, most of them from Korea and the surrounding southeast Asian countries, plus a few Korean-American professionals. The main event overlapped that of WPT Prague, so between that and the traveling distance, it is no surprise that few big names were in attendance.

The final table lineup – pros vs. amateurs

The small and relatively star-free field meant that it was really anyone’s tournament. Only three of the players at the final table were professionals, all three of them Korean – Chris Park and Hyunshik Kim are both American-born but living in Korea, while Jae Kyung Sim is Korean-born but living in the Philippines. Facing these pros were three amateurs, all of whom work day jobs in business – Masato Yokosawa and Kosei Ichinose from Japan, and Chane Kamapanatsanyakorn from Thailand.

Kamapanatsanyakorn self-destructs, Yokosawa dominates

Kamapanatsanyakorn had the chip lead coming in to final table, with Yokosawa close on his heels. All of this changed rapidly in the early hands, with Kamapanatsanyakorn losing hand after hand and finally busting in 6th, only 39 hands into the final table.

Yokosawa, meanwhile, was playing a highly aggressive, small-ball game. Even though it was Chris Park who busted Kamapanatsanyakorn, Yokosawa already had more than half the chips in play. He was never in any serious trouble after that, letting the other players bust one another while he continued to steal pots, and finally besting Chris Park in heads-up play, turning bottom trips against Park’s top pair and allowing Park to do all the betting for him.

It was a commanding performance, but Yokosawa still has his job as a business manager, so it’s unknown whether we’ll see more of Asia’s first WPT champion. Either way, one can only hope that WPT continues to live up to its name and we see more stops outside of North America and Europe in the future.

Alex Weldon is a game designer by day and poker tournament wizard by night. You can read more from Alex at www.benefactum.ca and follow him on Twitter at @benefactumgames

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