The Philippines finally made a mark at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) after poker pro Mike Takayama became the very first Filipino in the history of the tournament to win a WSOP gold bracelet.
Takayama made his debut at the 2018 WSOP and found success pretty quickly after he won event #59: $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Super Turbo Bounty. He was able to defeat a field of 2,065 entrants that generated a prize pool of over $1.8 million. In addition to the gold bracelet, he took home the first prize of $198,568 and moved up to 3rd place on the Philippines All Time Money list according to the Hendon Mob.
Takayama Runs Through Top Players To Win WSOP Bracelet
The Filipino pro was able to outlast notable names in the event, including Phil Hellmuth, Phil Laak, and Mike Watson, who all busted out before the final table. Shaun Deeb who is currently fighting for the top spot for the 2018 Player of the Year also took part in the event but he had to bow out in 172nd place and took $1,214.
Takayama did not get fazed by the large number of competitors or by poker reputations as he kept his nerve and used a daring strategy that worked out well for him in the end. He battled it out in the end with Italy’s Lorenc Puka and went all in twice before defeating Puka. Puka settled for second place with $122,627.
In a statement, Takayama said, “I had two specific hands were I got the suckout. I got a hefty stack after that, and I just kept on building it up. I’m very happy because winning the bracelet is everyone’s dream. I’m the first Filipino to win a bracelet, so I’m really, really, really happy about that.”
His first place victory at the Super Turbo Bounty is his 2nd payout at the 2018 WSOP. He finished in the money after securing the 32nd spot at the $1,000 NLH Double Stack Event taking home collected $17,814. This win was his biggest payout till date and Takayama says he will now use that money to buy-in to the 2018 WSOP Main Event that will start this week.
Takayama’s Grind To The WSOP
Takayama started playing poker in 2010 after years of playing competitive billiards. When he turned 20, he slowly began his transition from billiards to poker after finding poker much more profitable than billiards.
Two years into his run as a professional poker player, he had his biggest cashout after placing 2nd  at the PHP16,500 NLH event held during the 2012 Asian Poker Tour (APT) in Manila. He won PHP129,400 ($3,093), which was more than he ever won playing competitive billiards. He then continued traveling and playing poker events across the Philippines, making several cashes at the APT and the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT).
In 2014, Takayama became one of the most successful Filipino poker players after he won back-to-back victories at the Macau Poker Cup and the APT Asian Poker Series Manila, which were held only a month apart. He took home HK$117,000 ($15,096) from the Macau Cup and then PHP3,453,000 ($79,041) from the APT, which was two of the biggest cashes in his career.
Takayama continues to dominate the Manila poker scene and is well known in poker circles across the Philippines. He has had great run in 2018 so far, cashing in at 22 events and winning three tournaments before making his way to the 2018 WSOP. His WSOP victory is now his most prestigious win and biggest cash prize till date, pushing his total live earnings to $852,907.
Poker In The Philippines Will Get A Boost
The poker scene in the Philippines is growing at a decent pace and will most likely see a spike in domestic players as Takayama’s win is sure to make headlines back home and inspire a number of young people to start playing poker.
Top brands like PokerStars and Poker King Club host events at Manila every year attracting a large number of local and international players. Some of these tournaments include the APPT, APT, World Poker Tour National Philippines, and PokerStars Live Manila.

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