Naoya Kihara wins Japan’s first WSOP bracelet
- Comments: (0)
- Published June 21st, 2012 in WSOP
Naoya Kihara became the first bracelet winner from the Land of the Rising Sun on Wednesday night when he won the $5k Pot Limit Omaha 6-Max tournament at the 2012 WSOP. Kihara’s win was the first for the nation in the 43-year history of the WSOP, and may just be the lightning rod that brings more Japanese players into the game, as the nation is notoriously late to the poker party.
The 30 year-old Kihara will now join Yosh Nakano in any discussion of the best Japanese poker players – Nakano has long been the only Japanese poker player most people could come up with—but he does see a time when more and more Japanese poker players come to the WSOP, as he told reporters after his win: “Poker is getting popular in Japan but problem is live poker is illegal so a lot of people play online poker. They should get more skill and more and then come to (Vegas) and second and third and fourth bracelet holder should appear.”
Kihara, who claims PLO is one of his worst games (of the games that he plays regularly) decimated the final table, eliminating David Kitai, Hans Winzeler, Dan Hindin, and Chris De Maci on his way to the gold bracelet, only the sixth place finisher, Tommy Le, managed to avoid being eliminated by Kihara. By the time heads-up play began Kihara had built up a huge chip advantage over De Maci, holding over a 2-to-1 advantage.
The final hand came on an Ax-2h-Jh, where Kitai flipped over 2-3-4-5 for bottom pair and 9-card wrap, but he got the bad news when he saw Kihara’s hand, the Kh-Qh-Jx-6x, giving him a better pair and a flush draw (which eliminated three of De Maci’s straight outs). The Turn brought a second pair for Kihara, an offsuit 6, and the River blanked giving him the title.
In addition to having to deal with poker pro Chris DeMaci during heads-up play, the final table of six players also presented Kihara the challenge of Belgian star and Triple Crown winner David Kitai. Kitai has been having a solid 2012 WSOP, with three cashes already. Kitai won a bracelet for Belgium at the 2008 WSOP, won the WPT Celebrity Invitational in 2011, and this April completed the Poker Triple Crown when he won the EPT Berlin title. All three wins were the first for a Belgian player.
Here is a look at the final table payouts from the tournament:
- Naoya Kihara– $512,029
- Chris De Maci– $316,308
- Dan Hindin – $203,369
- Hans Winzeler – $134,857
- Davidi Kitai – $92,064
- Tommy Le – $64,671
- Posted in: WSOP
- Comments: 0