Thailand’s Pakinai Lisawad Eyes History in 2014 World Series of Poker

Pakinai Lisawad
Pakinai Lisawad

Only four players from Thailand took part in the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event and yet somehow Pakinai Lisawad has emerged as one of top 10 stacks in the final 300 players.

He’s already on the cusp of Thai poker history and he could potentially become the first player from the country to make the final table.

“That’s the one big thing about this run,” he said.

“I want to do well so at least there’s some recognition. Thai players don’t really get any attention at least in the US.”

Even if Lisawad finishes short of the final table he will become the country's all-time live tournament leader if he makes it into the final 27 players.

Lisawad is no stranger to the Main Event and last year he finished 318th for a $32,242 cash, which was the best finish ever for a player from Thailand.

He’s returned with a vengeance this year but he’s humble about his back-to-back runs.

“I’m lucky!” he said. “That’s all you need. I actually prefer tournaments that are shallower because I’m not much of a tournament player and I like to gamble a little more.”

Learning in Canada, Dominating in Thailand

Pakinai Lisawad

Despite his talk Lisawad isn’t impervious to the appeal of a deep-stack tournament like the Main Event.

“It’s good,” he said. “You get to play a little more post-flop. I’m probably a big underdog to these guys who are 4-betting or 5-betting or whatever.”

A native of Bangkok, Lisawad picked up poker when he was traveling abroad in Canada.

“When I got back home to Thailand I started playing online,” he said. “I built up a bankroll and started traveling around. Nothing special really.”

There’s a reason very few poker players have come from Thailand. While currently a major destination for displaced U.S. online poker players, it’s isolated from the major poker stops and there is no legal live poker.

“There is poker,” explained Lisawad. “But it’s underground.

"The games aren’t big. They are the equivalent of $5/$10 No-Limit. They play pretty deep but usually not very big. I spend most of my time online.”

Fortunately there are some tournaments in Asia and Lisawad has significant scores in Macau and the Philippines.

The Race for All-Time Leader in Thai Poker

Pakinai Lisawad

Still there are very few players from Thailand who actively play the poker circuit.

“There’s only two of us who travel out to the tournaments,” he said. “Me and my friend Chane [Kampanatsanyakom].”

Interestingly Kampanatsanyakom is currently the all-time Thai live tournament leader with $356,083 in earnings.

Lisawad only trails him by $249,746. A 27th place finish in the 2014 Main Event would be enough to push Lisawad to the top.

A final-table appearance wouldn’t just alter the Thai record books, it would rewrite them completely. Lisawad would more than double Kampanatsanyakom’s lifetime earnings.

There’s also no telling what it might do to promote the game in Thailand. For now though, Lisawad is just focusing on each hand.

“I’m still learning,” Lisawad said.

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