Achieving Supernova Elite on PokerStarsis quite a feat. Doing so requires generating one million VPPs on PokerStars in a year and spending a ton of time at the tables calling, raising, and folding. Kosei Ichinose (pictured), known as shinbunshion PocketFives, claims he was the first Supernove Elite player ever from the country of Japan, getting the title in 2010. We caught up with him following a victory in the 888 Poker Super XL Mega Deep earlier this month for $39,000.

“I’m happy I could close one of the big tournaments on 888,” Ichinose said of his second largest tracked score ever. “This is my first five-figure score on the site since I started playing there a little less than a half-year ago.” He called 888 “one of the softest sites I have ever played on” and said, “There aren’t many high buy-in tournaments there, so it’s kind of tough to make big scores too frequently. This tournament was a Mega Deep and had 30-minute levels. It took 14 hours to finish.”

He plans to use his $39,000 on upcoming live tournaments as well as a deposit on an apartment in Macau or China. He has his sights set on APPT Seoul in 2014 and said, “If I’m going, for sure I am going to play all of the events.” The tournament series in Seoul will play out over the first six days of April. Its Main Event has a buy-in of about $2,800.

Interviewing a Japanese player has been a rarity for his author, which is part of the reason we wanted to talk to him. The Japan pokercommunity on PocketFives has over 100 members who have combined for about $5.4 million in career earnings. “There are many amusement poker rooms that don’t use money,” Ichinose said of poker in his homeland. “I don’t think the general public has a clue about poker. They think it belongs with gambling games like blackjack and other table games.”

Ichinose is #214 worldwide in the PocketFives Poker Rankingsand #1 in Japan. He has been a member of PocketFives since the first month of 2011 and has over 2,400 tracked in the money finishes. On 888, you can find him playing under the user name mAdEInzIpAng.

He got started in poker across the Pacific in Vancouver, Canada. He was a student at the time and said, “It was after Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event and poker was starting to get popular. I sat down in the smallest game in town, which was $2/$4 Limit Hold’em.” How’d he do? He recalled, “I made small money day by day, moved up to $4/$8, switched to $1/$2 No Limit within nine months, and, one month later, moved up to $3/$6 No Limit, which was the biggest game in town.”

Poker seemed to be an ideal fit, as he explained, “I’m good at games and don’t have much pressure when it comes to putting money on the table and playing it out. I found that poker is my game and could be a good career.” He has been playing full-time for the last six years, a run that included a Supernova Elite award in 2010.

Speaking on his Supernova Elite superlative, Ichinose remarked, “I felt good about being Supernova Elite because that was my achievement for the year and especially since nobody from Japan had done it at the time.” In case you’re wondering, George Lind (pictured) was the first Supernova Elite in 2010 and achieved the feat in March of that year.

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