Kaoru Nozaki Wins the ASPT Taiwan Main Event; James Chen Crowned Player of the Series

ASPT Taiwan champion Kaoru Nozaki

The Asia Series Poker Tour (ASPT) stopped off in CTP Poker Club in Taipei City, Taiwan earlier this month, and it will be fondly remembered by Japan's Kaoru Nozaki, who came out on top in the main event and became the latest ASPT Main Event champion.

The NT$33,000 buy-in (approx. $1,100) Main Event featured an NT$7,000,000 guarantee on its prize pool, but 308 entrants meant the ASPT awarded NT$8,970,200 ($279,580) to the top 47 finishers.

Those who finished in the money places were primarily from Japan and Taiwan, with a sprinkling of in-the-money finishers hailing from Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea, and Andrew Chou representing the United States.

ASPT Taiwan Main Event Final Table Results

RankPlayerCountryPrize (NT$)Prize (US$)
1Kaoru NozakiJapan$1,377,200$42,924
2Sze Wing HoHong Kong$1,124,800$35,057
3Takashi YaguraJapan$770,000$23,999
4Chien HungTaiwan$635,200$19,798
5Douhoung ChienTaiwan$534,000$16,644
6Chi Jen ChuTaiwan$453,000$14,119
7Hua Wei LinTaiwan$385,600$12,018
8Chia KoTaiwan$327,800$10,217
9Mitsuyo YomogidaJapan$277,200$8,640

Two Japanese players reached the nine-handed final table, but one of them, Mitsuyo Yomogida, was the first casualty of the night. The next five players eliminated from the action called Taiwan home. Chia Ko was the first of that quintet to bow out before Hua Wei Lin, Chi Jen Chu, Douhoung Chien, and Chien Hung all crashed out, banking prizes of between NT$327,800 ($10,217) and NT$635,200 ($19,798).

The heads-up stage was reached when Japanese star Takashi Yagura fell by the wayside in third, a finish good for NT$770,000 ($23,999). Yagura's exit left fellow countryman Nozaki in a one-on-one contest against Hong Kong's Sze Wing Ho.

Both players were guaranteed their largest-ever live poker tournament score, and both were seeking their maiden live victory. The heads-up clash went Nozaki's way, and he became the 2023 ASPT Taiwan Main Event champion, an accolade that came with NT$1,377,200 ($42,924), leaving Ho to collect an NT$1,124,800 ($35,057) consolation prize.

James Chen Captures Four Titles on the Way to Becoming the Player of the Series

Player of the Series James Chen
Player of the Series James Chen

James Chen has more than $9 million in live poker tournament earnings, ranking him first in Taiwan's all-time money list, according to The Hendon Mob Database. The poker community is more used to seeing Chen grinding the highest-stakes available, evident by his maiden World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet win in the €250,000 buy-in Super High Roller at the 2019 WSOP Europe festival. However, Chen heard about the ASPT Taiwan festival by pure chance and decided to head to the venue once he discovered the schedule featured mixed games, something of a rarity outside Europe and the United States.

Chen finished top of the pile in not one, not two, but four ASPT Taiwan events. The leaderboard points earned from those impressive victories saw Chen become the Player of the Series, which awards him with a trophy and entry to the ASPT Korea Main Event in 2024.

Speaking to the ASPT shortly after receiving his award, Chen said, "I learned about the ASPT by chance, and was surprised to see mixed game tournaments on the schedule. I wanted to support the first mixed game events ever held in Taiwan, so I decided to participate and play many events."

Chen triumphed in the Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo, the Razz, Stud Mix, and Sunday Platinum events.

"After playing my first Stud tournament of the series, I was very impressed by the willingness of ASPT to not only promote mixed games in Asia, but also evolve and contribute to the entire mixed games space. In the future, we may see Western poker tours adopt the innovations made by ASPT, such as the button ante in Stud."

Chen also spoke highly of the "courteous and professional" ASPT staff, and the excellent structures devised by Iori Yogo, which Chen said "It's very apparent that the structures were designed by someone who loves poker and is very familiar with the game. They were designed for the best playing experience, instead of maximizing rake."

Stay tuned to PokerNews for details of upcoming ASPT stop in the poker hotbed that is Asia.

  • Here's what went down at the final table of the 2023 ASPT Taiwan Main Event.

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