Quick, name for me three New Zealand poker players not named Lee Nelson.
Don’t worry; you’re not alone. While poker and online casino games are popular among New Zealanders at sites like Zodiac Casino NZ, the country isn’t well-known for having many big-name pros like the US, Canada, or the UK.
However, that could start to change in the near future. Several New Zealand poker players have landed big scores in 2018 or have gone on streaks that may be indicative of big things to come in 2019. Today, we take a look at four New Zealand poker players to watch in 2019.
Sosia Jiang has shot up the New Zealand All-Time Money List this year, currently seventh overall. Last year, she made headlines after taking down the HK$ 103k NL High Roller at the PokerStars Championship Macau for over $498,000. She followed that performance up with a stellar 2018 campaign that included a third-place finish in the WPT New Zealand Main Event and a victory in the A$ 20k NL High Roller at the 2018 Sydney Championships.
Just recently, Sosia finished 129th in the partypoker Caribbean Poker Party Main Event, giving her $266k in earnings on the year. Over the last two years, she has amassed over $790k in live tournament earnings and is now the top woman on the NZ Money List.
Despite having live scores dating back to 2012, the majority of her career earnings have come since 2017, and Jiang appears poised to have another big year in 2019.
Last month, the NZ Herald did a feature on Sosia where she spoke about her life and struggles in the game. She mentioned that she will be dedicating more time to poker in the future, so she is definitely an up and coming player to watch.
Neil Mcfayden is perhaps best known for his online tournament prowess. A two-time PocketFives.com Triple Crown winner, Mcfayden has been relatively quiet in the live tournament arena in recent years, but that all changed back in October.
Mcfayden won his first-ever live poker event when he took down the GUKPT Luton Main Event, earning a career-best $76,861. He then continued his hot streak at the Merit Poker Cup in Kyrenia, making three deep runs including a 12th place finish in the $5k High Roller Event.
While $97k in earnings may not seem that impressive, it is by far Mcfayden’s best year in live tournaments and may be indicative of things to come in 2019.
Tae Hoon Han
Tae Hoon Han had a breakout performance in 2017 after winning the PokerStars Festival Korea Main Event for $73,954. He finished the year with just over $80k in live earnings. In 2018, Han has continued performing well and has managed another career year with 14 live cashes thus far, which have included 10 final table appearances and a preliminary event win at the 2018 Macau Millions.
While primarily a cash game player, Han has begun to show consistency in live tournaments and could be ready to move up to some larger scores in 2019.
Honglin Jiang joins sister Sosia as another player to watch in 2019. Presently sixth on the NZ All-Time Money List, Jiang had a pair of six-figure scores in 2018, including a runner-up finish in the EPT Monte Carlo Main Event where he took home $525,233. He also finished 9th in the partypoker MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona Main Event for $185k.
In 2018, Honglin earned $779k of his $847k in career earnings and looks poised to be a big name on the tournament circuit in 2019. He and Sosia could make an interesting sibling duo, and it would be fantastic to see the pair go deep in major events overseas or even travel to Las Vegas in the summer to try their hand at winning their first World Series of Poker bracelets.