By Sean Callander
A word of warning for any aspiring poker players out there who plan on crossing a member of Team PokerStars with a poorly timed raise or a horrible suckout on the river. They now have the power; the power to fightback!
Prior to the start of day two here in South Korea for the inaugural APPT Seoul event, Team PokerStars sampled some local culture with a visit to the Korea Taekwondo Tae Jeong Club – their lesson may not have added much to a centuries worth martial arts’ tradition on the Korean Peninsula, but it certainly provided plenty of side-splitting moments for the PokerStars Pro and assembled media.
Joe Hachem, Lee Nelson, Isabelle Mercier, Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier and Tuan Lam suited up in traditional costume, went through some stretching exercises and then it was time to kick some bags and break some blocks!
Taekwondo is the national sport of South Korea and sparring, kyeorugi, is a recognised Olympic sport. Roughly translated, 'tae' means to destroy with the feet; 'kwon' to strike or smash with the hand; and do is the 'path', 'way' or 'method". In English it can be understood as; “the way of the feet and fist”.
Joe Hachem, who has years of karate experience under his belt, certainly showed some fists of fury when he shattered five wooden blocks with a single blow. During last night’s dinner break, Joe warned that he had some steam to let off – indeed, sparks literally flew as the timber shattered into several pieces.
Despite playing through to the end of day one and only catching a few hours’ sleep, Isabelle Mercier was full of energy and used her kickboxing background to deliver some ferocious kicks. ‘No Mercy’ shared an ominous message after the session finished: “I think I’ll break some blocks if I make the final table, that way no-one will ever mess with me.”
Mercier is now back in the Walker-hill Casino poker room battling it out to live up to her promise of making the final table.
The new chip leader is Australian Jo Berec, who just took down a massive pot to move ahead of last night’s chip leader Dan Schreiber to 190,000. Berec, who won the Victorian Poker Championships main event in his home casino Crown in Melbourne, has been in terrific form and will be a tough man to break down today. Only 35 players remain in the race for the title, with the top 16 players chasing the money.