Yesterday is was announced that Taiwan’s Chen-An Lin and China’s Yaxi Zhu have become the newest members of Team PokerStars Pro. With the addition of the two Asian players PokerStars continues its focus on the fast growing Asian poker market. Zhu is the third female poker player from Asia to become part of Team Pro; the others being China’s Celina Lin and South Korea’s Vivian Im.
Yaxi Zhu broke into the poker scene two years ago when she final tabled the WPT National China. The six-handed final table played down to a winner in South Korea in December 2013, and Zhu finished in 4th place for $80,650. This was Zhu’s first live tournament. Unfortunately the win is still not recorded by The Hendon Mob.
In 2014 Zhu went on to win a bounty event at Asia Championship of Poker, and she was runner-up in the Women’s Event at EPT Grand Final in Monaco and the Ladies Championship at ACOP, Macau. As if this was not enough Zhu finished in 12th place in the ACOP Main Event for $52,352 and took down a side event at EPT Prague for $147,980.
This year has been quieter. In February Zhu finished in 12th place in ANZPT Main Event and just recently she cashed in the EPT Barcelona Main Event. Zhu has more than $330,000 in live tournament earnings (if we incl. the cash at WPT National China). She is ranked 34th on China’s All Time Money List, but should in fact be ranked 28th due to her deep run in the WPT National China.
Zhu has a background in the financial sector and has worked for a consulting firm in Shanghai. And that’s actually where she learned to play poker, she told PokerWomenNews in an interview last year:
”My colleagues and some clients and friends invited my to join their home game, and that’s how I got introduced to poker. It’s around one and a half years ago. Poker is kind of popular among employees in financial institutions and consulting firms in Shanghai. I didn’t play that much and it was just for fun. My first tournament was the WPT China last November.”
Looking back it’s outstanding what Zhu has accomplished since she first played in a home game in 2012, and adding Zhu to the Team Pro roster is a strong move by PokerStars. Why PokerStars has not signed Kitty Kuo yet, who by the way is Zhu’s best friend, is beyond me. With Kuo on the team PokerStars would have the best possible female holding for growing the game in Asia. So why isn’t Kuo part of the team too? Is she too weird for PokerStars? Too eccentric? Too outspoken? What do you think?
Photo: Yaxi Zhu, EPT Prague 2014