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Naoya Kihara First Japanese Player to Win WSOP Bracelet

Wins $512,029 and First Gold Bracelet For Winning $5,000 PLO Six-Max


Naoya KiharaNaoya Kihara became the first Japanese player in history to capture a World Series of Poker gold bracelet when he won the $5,000 pot-limit Omaha six-max event. In addition to his first piece of poker hardware the Tokyo resident also earned the $512,029 first-place prize and 1,440 Card Player Player of the Year points, moving him into 45th place in the overall POY standings.

The 30-year-old professional player is excited to be the first player from his country to win at the WSOP, and is hopeful that winning this title could lead to bigger and better things for his career.

“Now I am living on poker, but I want to be a sponsored player,” said Kihara. “So being the first Japanese bracelet winner means the possibility of that is bigger and bigger.”

This was Kihara’s second year at the WSOP, with most of his poker experience coming online as a result of the laws of his home country.

“Poker is getting popular in Japan, but live gambling is illegal, so a lot of people join online poker [sites],” said Kihara. “It should be legal. I think it is a really stupid law. A lot of people now go to Las Vegas or Macau to play poker.”

Davidi KitaiKihara outlasted a 419-player field in this event, topping a number of tough players on the final day including Kevin MacPhee (11th – $26,349), Joseph Cheong (9th – $34,620), Jason Dewitt (8th – $46,692), Davidi Kitai (5th – $92,064) and eventual runner-up Chris DeMaci.

DeMaci earned $316,308 for his second-place finish, as well as 1,200 POY points, which catapulted him into 66th place in the rankings. Kitai earned 600 POY points for his fifth-place finish, climbing to seventh in the overall POY standings as a result.

Despite winning this prestigious event, Kihara maintains that pot-limit Omaha is one of his weaker games.

“I think that I am not so good at pot-limit Omaha, actually. I have about 2 million [hands] of experience in hold’em, and 250,000 [hands] of experience in pot-limit Omaha high-low, but I only have about 150,000 [hands] in pot-limit Omaha. It is not my best game, so because of that I tried to play an ABC style. I really got lucky and lucky, every flip I won.”

Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at this final table:

Place Player Earnings POY Points
1 Naoya Kihara $512,029 1,440
2 Christopher DeMaci $316,308 1,200
3 Daniel Hindin $203,369 960
4 Hans Winzeler $134,857 720
5 Davidi Kitai $92,064 600
6 Tommy Le $64,671 480