Watch: Winfred Yu, Asia’s Poker King

In this latest video for the Paul Phua Poker School, Winfred Yu explains how he became one of Asian poker’s prime movers. Paul Phua picks the highlights

I have known Winfred Yu for many years now. Through the Poker King Clubs he runs for SunCity, as well as the poker tournaments he has organised through Kings Consulting, Winfred has become a key figure in the Asian poker industry.

Sadly, that position has its drawbacks! Winfred is a keen poker player with a deep love of the game, who has more than $2 million in live tournament earnings. And yet he has played with enough of the world’s top pros to realise that he would have to invest more time than he currently has in the game to reach their level.

“l think l’m not as concentrated or have the advantage like the pros,” Winfred says in this video interview for the Paul Phua Poker School, “because l still have my marketing team, dictating tournaments, running my own room.”

The Daniel Negreanu connection

How did Winfred Yu end up with a career as one of Asian poker’s prime movers? He explains that he started off simply as a fan of the game.

He emigrated from Hong Kong with his family to Canada at the age of 14, and studied maths and statistics at university. This was a good background for a poker player, and when he encountered his first game, Winfred says he was “hooked on day one”. This was also the day he ran into the Canadian who would become the world’s most successful live tournament player…

“It was the first time in Canada that they introduced poker,” says Winfred. “And the first day that l sit down and play, the guy next to me is Daniel Negreanu! And at that time he actually was a dealer at a poker club. And l guess on the first day l already learned from one of the best!” 

The rise of the Poker King Club

It wasn’t long before Winfred got a job in one or two of the new Canadian poker rooms, where he was talent-spotted by the Asian gaming operator SunCity and brought to Macau to run poker rooms for them.

With Winfred’s guidance, SunCity dared to dream big. Facing the problem that poker was less well known in Asia than in the West, they helped finance a Poker King feature film to popularise the game. Winfred himself had a cameo role in the comedy, which came out in 2009, alongside real-life poker players including the great Johnny Chan.

Clearly, they did something right! Having started in Macau at the StarWorld casino, Winfred then opened his Poker King Club in the huge Macau Venetian. There are now three more in key Asian cities: a Poker King Club at the Solaire casino in Manila; one in Jeju, South Korea; and in early July a new one also opened at the Star Vegas Resort and Club in Poipet, Cambodia.

As if that wasn’t enough, Winfred Yu also organises several major poker tournaments, including the recent Triton Super High Roller Series at the Maestral Resort and Casino in beautiful Montenegro.

When Winfred Yu met Paul Phua

I met Winfred when the ultra-high-stakes cash game known as “the Big Game” was held at the StarWorld in Macau. He is a smart man, and a keen poker player, so we immediately got on well.

In this video for the Paul Phua Poker School, Winfred admits that he did not expect us to become friends, because I was already friendly with his boss. “He’s a good friend of my boss,” explains Winfred, “and he said ‘take care of Paul, he has super-interest in poker’… he’s such a generous guy he didn’t even think, you know, that he’s a friend of my boss… they treated us all like friends.”

Of course! I look forward to many years more of friendship with Winfred Yu. These are exciting times for the Asian poker market, and you can be sure that Winfred will be in the driving seat.

Who is Winfred Yu? Poker player profile

  • Winfred Yu runs the Poker King Clubs in Macau, Manila, Jeju and Poipet
  • Winfred also organises major Asian poker tournaments including the Triton High Roller Series and the Poker King Club Cup
  • He has previously hosted the ultra-high-stakes cash game known in poker circles as “the Big Game”
  • Winfred Yu has more than $2 million in live poker tournament earnings