Poker profiles Poker

Bobo: China’s home grown hero

Written by Andrew W Scott

This article first appeared in the Nov 2009 (pre-launch) and Mar/Apr 2010 issues of World Gaming magazine.

Poker has only been in Macau a few years, with the top players so far being expatriates or fly-ins from Australia, Europe or the US. But as more Chinese discover the game, its inevitable that home grown Chinese players will emerge. The Macau event of the third season of the Asia Pacific Poker Tour was held at the Pokerstars poker room at the Grand Lisboa last August. It was the coming-out party for Daoxing Chen (better known as simply “Bobo”). He shocked the poker world by finishing in third place of the 429 runners, collecting HK$1,855,000 in prize money. It was a fantastic achievement for a man who had been playing the game just 17 months.

Bobo playing at the final table of the 2009 APPT Macau event

Bobo playing at the final table of the 2009 APPT Macau event

Bobo, tell everyone a little about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for work?

I’m from Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province in Mainland China. When I was young, I had a clothes and shoes business. Now I have some shares. My sisters have a business investing in real estate.

How did you get into poker?

I often fly in to Macau to play. In March last year I saw a poker cash game for the first time, and I watched it for a couple of hours. Then I sat down to play. The first day I lost HK$9,000 but the second day I won HK$18,000 and went on from there. I thought this game is definitely better than other games.

I used to be a baccarat player, but you eventually lose on baccarat. I just focus on poker now.

How did you get the nickname “Bobo”?

One day a dealer asked what he should call me. I said, “you can call me anything, you can even call me baobao if you like”. So this dealer started calling me baobao, which is a cute name in Chinese. The name stuck, and somehow became “Bobo”.

I heard you previously played very big stakes?

Yes up to May this year I played at the Wynn poker room and used to buy in for HK$500,000, playing no limit hold’em with HK$1,000/HK$2,000 blinds. Then I moved over to Grand Lisboa, but the cash games were smaller so I started playing tournaments.

Is it hard to learn poker?

I don’t know any poker books, and didn’t talk to anyone about poker when I started. I just sat down and played.

Your achievement at the APPT main event was a great result. How were you feeling each day as you progressed?

I felt no pressure because I was inexperienced, and therefore didn’t have any expectations. I didn’t even expect to make day two. My plan on day one was to try to turn my 20,000 chip starting stack into 80,000 chips. I ended the day with 42,000, which wasn’t too bad.

I ended day 2 with 240,000 chips. As the tournament progressed my confidence grew. On day three, when there were about 30 people left, there was a western guy who I considered a threat. But no one else worried me. I ended day three with 1.74 million in chips. I was very confident I would make the top three.

I didn’t really feel the winner was a particularly strong player and I wish I had thought longer about the hand I busted on. I was very disappointed when I busted, I really could have gone all the way and won.

You were criticised for taking a long time to make some of your decisions. What were you thinking about all that time?

The biggest purpose of the long tanks was to observe my opponent. Inexperienced players can’t hide their nervousness for long. I was just waiting to see whether my opponent would show some different emotion or change the way they were acting.

What do you attribute your success in the APPT to?

I really believe I am blessed by God. I have some skills in playing this game, and I also got a lot of luck! I think it was about 30 percent skill and 70 percent luck. It’s very important to try to slowly edge your chips up, and it takes skill to do that. But there are some key moments where you just have to have luck.

Also you need to be able to cope with stress. I have pretty good intuition, which is also important in poker.

What’s your advice to other players when playing tournaments?

Having the right personality is very important. You also need a clear head and not to be worried about financial issues. You can’t have anything affecting your rational thinking.

Bobo takes centre stage

Bobo takes centre stage

Do you think the Chinese will embrace poker in the years to come?

Absolutely, it will get popular very quickly. It’s a tradition for Chinese families to play games at home, and poker suits that. Also, as people become richer in China, there will be more disposable income to play with. This game is a brain activity, not gambling. I think it’s an excellent game for people to play after they retire to keep their mind active.

Any last words?

I don’t chase fame and fortune like most people. I just like to live a stress free life. I’m very genuine with the people around me. I have a very good instinct to feel people’s emotions. I feel blessed by God and use my heart to love people around me.