Japan’s First WSOP Bracelet Winner Kihara
June 22, 2012
There had never been a WSOP bracelet winner from Japan… until yesterday. Naoya Kihara made history when he became the first ever Japanese poker player to win a gold bracelet in Event #34: $5K PL Omaha/6 Handed. The 30-year-old professional poker player beat a field of 419 players that included representation from more than 25 various countries. For his win, Kihara earned $512,029 and so much more, as he will go down in history as the first Japanese WSOP bracelet winner.
Last year, Maeda Azusa came close, finishing second at WSOP Europe, but the honor would ultimately go to Kihara. He hopes to obtain a sponsorship deal and wishes to become a poker ambassador in Japan and throughout Asia. With his winnings, Kihara will be able to fulfill his dream of traveling around the world to play poker rather than playing online, which he mostly did prior to winning. Last year, Kihara cased in 653rd place in the Main Event in his first trip to Vegas to play in the WSOP. Perhaps this year he will go even further in the Main Event during his second WSOP stint.
Prior to going pro, Kahara was a private school teacher. He currently resides in Tokyo and faces many of the typical issues that US players face. He says of his profession, “My parents don’t like it. They know that but don’t like it,” according to WSOP.com.
Other bracelet winners at the final table of Event #34 included Davidi Kitai and Jason DeWitt. David Benyamine cashed 14th, and Brock Parker 36th. Chris De Maci finished the tournament in second place.