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APPT7 Seoul: A round with Naoya Kihara

The PokerStars Blog has a long and elaborate history.

It started as a wee website written by one man and evolved into a massive online poker publication that covers the largest tournaments in the world.

During that period of growth, the blog has gone through numerous upgrades, changes and fads. There was one phase were Atomic Fireballs were all the rage. At another point there was an incident with a man and a dolphin. Some fads are fleeting, but others stick.

One of the enduring PokerStars Blog trends is the infamous "A round with..." The trend was started by Howard Swains, a PokerStars blogger who's as tall as he is British, which is to say, very. While Swains is away in London covering the EPT and probably sleeping at the moment, his creation lives wherever the PokerStars Blog is.

Right now, that's at the Walkerhill Paradise Casino in Seoul.

Today, we spent a round with Team PokerStars Online Naoya Kihara.

To shake things up, we started following Kihara when he was on the cutoff. Curveball.

The blinds were 900/1,800 with a 200 ante and the table was eight-handed. Manami Hayamizu raised to 3,800 from middle position and Kihara folded. The next hand saw Kihara in the hijack, he folded to another raise of 3,800.


Manami Hayamizu

Things got interesting the next hand.

Kihara raised to 3,900 from middle position and the player to his left, Akira Ohyama, moved all-in for 12,900. Hayamizu called from the big blind and action was back on Kihara.

Kihara asked Mayamizu how many chips she had and then raised to 38,700 when he got his answer. Hayamizu folded and Kihara and Ohyama went heads-up.

Ohyama: 2♥2♣
Kihara: K♦K♣

The board came J♦Q♥7♦9♠5♥ and Ohyama was eliminated. Kihara's stack grew to 207,000, making him the tournament chip leader.

Kihara was UTG the next hand and raised to 3,900 again. Wang Ping Yuan called from the big blind and the flop came 4♦2♣9♥. Both players checked the flop and the 8♣ on the turn. The river brought a 4♥ and the Yuan bet 3,700 on the river. Kihara called and the big blind flipped over 6♣6♠.

"Threes," Kihara said after he picked his hand up and threw it into the muck.


Kihara and Yuan enjoying the APPT

Then there was a disturbance in the round.

Another player was eliminated somewhere and the floor came to break Kihara's table. Kihara was moved to the one seat at another table and his Japanese tablemate, Hayamizu, joined the new table as well. She was even seated two to Kihara's left, just like at the previous table.

Kihara got to the table just in time to skip the blinds and the button. When he was dealt back in he was back on the cutoff. He folded. It was a very unconventional "A round with..." but the round was completed nonetheless, cutoff to cutoff.

Kihara's new table is also conveniently right in front of the little wooden media table. During the production of this update, we looked over and noticed that Kihara had a little red "all-in" triangle in front of him.

There was about 90,000 in the pot and the board read K♦Q♣A♦5♣3♥. Kihara was up against John Kim who had about 55,000 behind. Kim eventually folded and Kihara's stack went up to about 250,000.

Kim wasn't too happy after the hand and was even less happy after the next one.

Kihara raised to 3,900 and Kim called. Both players checked the 5♣J♣A♦5♣3♥ board to the river. Then Kihara took 14,800 out of his stack.

"Call," Kim said almost instantly. He didn't move, he didn't blink. An unlit cigarette was dangling from his mouth.

Kihara turned over 6♥4♥ for the rivered flush and Kim slammed the table. His cigarette jiggled and he glared at Kihara.

Kihara now has about 280,000 and still holds the chip lead.


Team PokerStars Online Naoya Kihara

Click through to live coverage of the APPT Seoul Main Event.

Alexander Villegas is a reporter for the PokerStars Blog.

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