Who is Chane Kampanatsanyakorn? A spotlight on Thailand’s leading poker player.
In recent years, Thailand has become one of the leading destinations for professional online Texas Hold’em players to play in Asia; particularly when the weather is rough in North America and Europe.
That’s because Thailand’s internet infrastructure has developed such that it compares favorably with western nations, and about time too.
While live poker is strictly prohibited in Thailand, that hasn’t stopped its online poker scene from continuing to thrive, with leading poker rooms such as 888poker accepting Thailand-based players.
The popularity of poker in Thailand is also partly down to the fact that locals are being inspired to dream big thanks to one man’s success at some of the world’s biggest live Texas Hold’em tournaments.
Introducing Chane Kampanatsanyakorn – how did his poker career begin?
Enter stage left, Chane Kampanatsanyakorn, who is already fourth on Thailand’s all-time money list for poker winnings.
Born and raised in Bangkok, Kampanatsanyakorn turned his hand to live poker back in 2012 when he entered his first major event, the Melbourne Crown Casino Thursday Thriller.
It was hardly megabucks at a buy-in of only AU$80, but Kampanatsanyakorn discovered his potential at this event, making the final table and eventually taking the bronze medal and a prize of AU$710.
Although it took Chane more than a year to secure another big event, it was certainly worth the wait.
He entered the Asia-Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) tournament in Seoul, South Korea, and eventually held his nerve to take second place and a life-changing $92,741.
2013 was certainly a breakthrough year in poker for Kampanatsanyakorn, whose Seoul success gave him the impetus to make more impressive wins at the APPT in Melbourne and in Macau’s Asia Championship of Poker.
Chane’s performances thus far in the world’s biggest poker tournaments
It would be remiss not to dig deeper into Chane’s breakthrough cash at the 2013 APPT Seoul event. A field of 222 players entered the tournament, with Chane nowhere near the favorite to make an impression and take first prize.
In fact, it was a prominent professional that looked like stealing a march on the rest of the field in the opening stages, with Naoya Kihara building a sizeable stack.
However, he would eventually fail to make the final table, bubbling in 11th place. Chane quietly went about his business and eked his way into the final table when the real action would begin.
Chane made it to heads-up with Aaron Lim, but eventually lost when his pair of jacks was agonizingly beaten by a better kicker.
Chane would then follow that success up with four further cashes in major events. Firstly, an 18th-place finish for almost $27,000 at the WSOP Asia-Pacific in Melbourne, then at the APPT Melbourne event.
Chane then plucked up the courage to venture to the global gambling capital of Macau for the 2013 APPT Asia Championship of Poker, where he would make yet another final table appearance for a ninth-place finish worth almost $64,000.
Chane ended 2013 on a high with a sixth-place finish in the WPT Jeju event in South Korea.
Chane’s biggest success in poker to date
It was South Korea that would prove to be the location of Chane’s finest hour in poker in his short career thus far.
Just four months after cashing at the WPT Jeju event, Chane returned to the APPT Seoul event for 2014 – the location of his runner-up finish and an agonizing defeat to Aaron Lim.
Somewhat poetically, Chane would go one better this time around and claim the first prize worth over $140,000.
Chane became the first Thai player to win an APPT main event title. It was almost a case of “if at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again” as Chane once again worked his way through another large field of 256 entrants, including some of the biggest names in professional tournament poker at the time, including Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier.
ElkY would not threaten Chane and co. after exiting on Day 1B with little more than a whimper when failing to find his flush draw outs.
Chane’s nemesis of the 2013 APPT Seoul event, Aaron Lim, also departed the tournament early on Day 2, but Kampanatsanyakorn was still sitting strong.
It eventually came down to Sam Cohen, who had previously made a final table at the Aussie Millions, and Christian Haggart.
After significant three-handed action, the players agreed to broker a deal that would net Kampanatsanyakorn a cool $114,000. However, after the deal was struck, there was still a further $28,500 to play for, along with entry into the 2014 ACOP Main Event.
Sam Cohen was eventually dumped out in third place, while Kampanatsanyakorn prevailed heads-up after waking up with pocket aces after Haggert shoved all-in with queen-jack.
Chane Kampanatsanyakorn after his win at APPT8 Seoul
It was a groundbreaking moment for Chane, whose stock had never been so high.
2015 saw him venture over to Las Vegas, becoming the ‘bubble boy’ at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic and earning him over $65,000.
hane became less active in 2016, although he featured for the first time at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), finishing 452nd at the exclusive Little One for One Drop event.
What does the future hold for Chane Kampanatsanyakorn and Thai poker?
Since 2016, Chane has played very little tournament poker, and he has remained largely out of the public eye.
That’s not to say that he is content with his lot from his poker winnings, but it’s not clear whether his motives are to forge a long-term career in the game or to make a quick buck.
Nevertheless, his impact on poker in Thailand alone has been a big boost to the poker industry as a whole.
Even if Chane’s success inspires just a few Thai players to take the same leap of faith and play live tournament poker in some of the most glamorous locations on the planet, he will have achieved great things for Thai poker.
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