For many years, Celina Lin was best known for her poker accomplishments in the Asia-Pacific region of the world. She was born in Shanghai, China, but spent most of her life in Melbourne, Australia, honing her skills at the Crown Casino tables. It didn’t take long for her to move from the lucrative cash games to tournaments, making final tables in 2007 and claiming victories in Macau in 2008 and 2009.
As Lin also became a known online player, Team PokerStars Pro invited her to join the roster in 2009, and she has been with PokerStars ever since. And over the course of her live tournament career, she has won more than $700K in addition to substantial online earnings.
Lin may be best known, however, for her history-making poker wins. In 2009, she became the first woman to ever win a Red Dragon trophy, and she took home HK$394,800 for the victory in the PokerStars Macau Poker Cup tournament. She then won another Red Dragon in 2012, taking home HK$854,000 for the first place finish in the Macau Poker Cup event and becoming the first player ever to win two of those elegant trophies. She was only 29 years old at the time and had done what no other player in the immensely popular Macau series had ever done.
Another prestigious series that stops regularly in Macau is the Asia Championship of Poker. Lin won her first Spadie – the nickname for the ACOP trophy emblazoned with the PokerStars spade logo – in the November 2013 ACOP series that was then part of the Asia-Pacific Poker Tour. She won HK$215,900 and the beloved Spadie.
Of course, Lin wasn’t done. She wanted to become the first player to win a second ACOP Spadie, and she did just that this month in Macau. It was in the Deepstack Championship event of the 2016 ACOP series, and she not only won it for HK$475,350, she was awarded that second Spadie. She made poker history yet again.
Her poker successes signify great strides for women in poker and the growth of tournament poker in Asia, but Lin also sets the standards for poker greatness across gender boundaries. Becoming the first player to win two Red Dragon events and then two Spadies sets the bar for other players, who then strive to catch up to her accomplishments. And there is no doubt she will continue to lead the way.
We caught up to her to ask her about her most recent win and what’s next on her poker journey.
PokerUpdate: How did it feel to become the first player to win two ACOP Spadie trophies after already becoming a two-time Red Dragon winner?
Celina Lin: I feel very fortunate to become the first two-time Red Dragon winner and now two-time ACOP Spadie winner. Live tournament poker really reminds me why I love the game so much. The feeling of making the final table then winning a trophy is something we all strive for but never know when it will come. The chase for the first two Spadie winners was fierce, the competition was tough, and the player I was heads-up against had already won a Spadie, I really didn’t want to feel like I lost two accomplishments in one tournament. I went for that trophy with all my heart.
PokerUpdate: Is there a distinction between the two accomplishments for you?
Lin: Everyone will agree that the Red Dragon trophy is absolutely stunning, but the competition you have to beat to win an ACOP trophy is the toughest all year in Asia. I am thrilled to be the owner of both titles, a third red dragon and another ACOP Spadie.
PokerUpdate: You do travel to other places to compete, even venturing to the WSOP this summer, but you keep returning to Macau. Why is the poker action there so special for you?
Lin: Macau is where my career began in poker; I am very fond of Macau because I have seen the major growth in the region and was fortunate enough to be a part of it. The fact I lived in Macau for seven years, it’s like a second home to me, where I have met some great friends and worked with an amazing team at PokerStars Live Macau.
PokerUpdate: You seem to have become more intense (in a good way!) with your game in the past few years. Does being a member of Team PokerStars Pro help your focus and/or game advancement?
Lin: The game of poker is always evolving. To me, it’s still very exciting every time I sit down and play and use new tricks I have learned at the table. Being a member of Team PokerStars Pro allows me to have a great opportunity to talk strategy with my fellow teammates, keep on top of the game and refine my skills on a platform that I trust and have fun playing on.
PokerUpdate: What is next for you as you finish 2016 and head into 2017?
Lin: In January, I will be heading to the PokerStars Championship event in the beautiful Bahamas. I did final table the ladies event there last year, which was a first for me! I am very excited to see what the new tour has in store for us, especially the addition of PokerStars Championship Macau.