Naoya Kihara is going to stand in front of his peers later this week and carry with him the weight of a nation. Kihara, who won the $5,000 Six-Max Pot Limit Omaha event Wednesday, will be the first Japanese player to receive a WSOP bracelet in the 43-year history of the World Series of Poker and his bracelet ceremony promises to be something special.
Kihara, who has been playing as an online poker pro for four years, is proud of the accomplishment and hopes it opens up some doors for him.
“I want to be a sponsored player so being first Japanese bracelet means the possibility of that increases bigger and bigger I think,” said Kihara. He’s not looking to be the Japanese Moneymaker but he hopes that his win is big news back home and that he’s able to be the first of many winners from his homeland.
“Poker is getting popular in Japan but (the) problem is live poker is illegal so a lot of people play online poker,” said Kihara, 30. They should get skill, more and more and then come to (Vegas) and the second and third and fourth bracelet holder should appear.”
The win, which puts $512,029 or 41,000,000 YEN into Kihara’s hands could propel him from little known Japanese poker pro to globetrotting tournament beast. At least, that’s what he’s hoping.
“I want to join big live tournaments. Before I don’t have enough money so I couldn’t join too much tournaments. But now I have money so I can enjoy live tournaments,” said Kihara.
Name: Naoya Kihara
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan
Occupation: Professional Poker Player
Lifetime live tournament earnings: $549,983
Notable poker accomplishments: Finished 653rd in the the 2011 WSOP Main Event
Memorable quote: (on his PLO skills) “I’m not so good at Pot Limit Omaha actually. I had areound 2 million experience in Hold’em and 250,000 in Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo but I think only 150,000 experience in Pot Limit Omaha. It’s not my best game, so because of that I tried to play A-B-C style, especially yesterday I got lucky and lucky and lucky. Every flip I won so because of that I run so good and then got the bracelet.”
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