These are the top New Zealand poker players

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In New Zealand, poker and many other gambling activities are legal and the country’s favorable legal standpoint made it easier for New Zealand poker players to build their careers in the world of poker. Online poker activities are very popular among New Zealand gamers.

A number of highly respected and well-trained poker players come from the New Zealand school of the game. While there are no Kiwis at the very top of the all-time money list, there are quite a few players who have what it takes to compete even with the best.

Top 4 NZ Poker Players

In this guide, companies offering online poker are respectable, fully licensed, regulated and most certainly worth checking out if you are looking for a great online poker site operational in New Zealand. Further, we take a look at the most successful poker players who were born in New Zealand and found fame on the international scene including:

  • Sosia Jiang
  • Neil Mcfayden
  • Tae Hoon Han
  • Lee Nelson

Sosia Jiang

Sosia Jiang is one of the most successful New Zealand professional poker players. She was born in 1979 in Mongolia but she moved to New Zealand with her family when she was only 7 years old. After finishing high school, she got accepted at the Australian National University. After returning to New Zealand, she got her law degree. Before poker became more than a hobby for her, she worked several years in Hong Kong in an investment bank.

Sosia Jiang has been competing in live poker tournaments for almost 10 years. She is second on New Zealand all-time money list that includes more than 1,100 poker players.  Her total live earnings surpassed $1.4 million. She first competed at the Asia Pacific Poker Tour in the HK$13,800 + 1,200 No Limit Hold’em event, finished sixth and took home $14,915.

At the New Zealand Poker Open held in Auckland in 2013, she finished ninth in the NZ$1,400 + 100 No Limit Hold’em – Main Event and third in the NZ$200 + 20 No Limit Hold’em – Ladies event and went home with more than $4,000. Sosia Jiang also competed at the PokerStars Championship held in Macau in 2017 in the HK$ 103,000 No Limit Hold’em. She won and took home $498,073 and this is her best live cash win. In 2018, she won the A$19,000 + 1,000 No Limit Hold’em – High Roller Event #11 at the Sydney Championships held in Sydney and cashed in $197,536.

She had quite a success at the Skycity Festival of Poker held in Auckland in 2019 where she won the NZ$2,000 + 200 No Limit Hold’em – Main Event. In 2019, she competed at the World Series of Poker International Circuit for the first time and finished 15th in the A$4,750 + 250 No Limit Hold’em -$5K Challenge. In May 2021, she finished 11th in the Australia A$4,700 + 300 No Limit Hold’em – WPTDS Gold Coast 5K Challenge Event #9 at the World Poker Tour DeepStacks.

Neil Mcfayden

New Zealander Neil Mcfayden is best known for playing online poker tournaments. On New Zealand’s all-time money list, Neil is 20th with $283,722 in earnings which may not be that impressive when compared to other New Zealand poker players but he still deserves a mention here. He debuted in 2007 at the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour in the £500 No Limit Hold’em event, finished seventh, and won $5,998.

At the Grand Series of Poker Live held in Sevilla in 2011, he finished 19th in the €3,000 + 300 No Limit Hold’em – Main Event and went home with $6,402. His biggest career success came in 2018 when he won the £1,000 + 110 No Limit Hold’em – Main Event at the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour and cashed in $76,861. Neil finished first in the $400 No Limit Hold’em Event #2 at the World Series of Poker Circuit in Las Vegas in 2019. Winning two events at the Rio Daily Deepstack Series 2018 boosted his earnings by more than $19,000. Mcfayden has also had serious poker results, and you can expect to see him participating in online WSOP events in 2021 as well.

Tae Hoon Han

Tae Hoon Han is another successful New Zealander in the world of poker. One of his biggest accomplishments as a professional poker player was winning the PokerStars Main Event held in Korea. For this win, he cashed in $73,954. His total live earnings as of 2021 surpassed $355,000 and he is in 16th place on New Zealand’s all-time money list. He debuted at the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour in 2012 in the NZ$ 300 + 30 No Limit Hold’em – Deepstack event, where he finished ninth.

He also competed at the Asian Poker Tour held in 2016 in the KRW150,000 + 15,000 No Limit Hold’em – Deepstack Turbo event and took home $1,187 for finishing second. Tae Hoon Han won the South Korea KRW 150,000 + 15,000 Deep Stack Turbo 1 Event 8 at the Asian Poker Tour held in Incheon in 2017. 2018 was also a great year for Tae Hoon Han as he placed second in the KRW700,000 No Limit Hold’em -APPT National Event #4 at the Asia Pacific Poker Tour and went home with $20,671. At the Macau Millions 2018, he placed fourth in the HK$13,500 + 1,500 No Limit Hold’em Event #6 and cashed in $15,699. In that same tournament, he won the HK$1,800 + 200 No Limit Hold’em – Turbo Event #15.

Lee Nelson

With more than $2.5 million in total live earnings, Lee Nelson is the most successful poker player from New Zealand and first on New Zealand’s all-time money list. Nicknamed Final Table, Lee Nelson is a retired doctor and a regular player at the Australian tournaments. He is best known for winning the PartyPoker World Open held in 2005 in England. Here, he went home with $400,000. At the Australian Poker Championships held that same year, Lee won two events including $1,500 + 100 Speed Poker Semi Final 6 – No Limit Hold’em Shootout and A$10,000 + 500 Main Event – No Limit Hold’em event and cashed for more than $950,000.

During his extremely fruitful career spanning more than 15 years, Lee Nelson won numerous other events including the A$440 Limit Omaha Hi/Lo event at the Victorian Poker Championships in Melbourne in 2003, the $300 No Limit Hold’em event at the St. Maarten Open in 2004, the Final – No Limit Hold’em Entry restricted at the PartyPoker World Open in 2005, the £1,000 + 40 No Limit Hold’em event at the Grosvenor World Masters in 2006, the NZ$700 + 70 No Limit Hold’em event at the New Zealand Poker Championship in 2007, and the A$1,000 + 100 Pot Limit Omaha event at the Aussie Millions Poker Championship held in Melbourne in 2009, among many others.