APPT Seoul Day 1A: Eastern poker room from a western perspective
This isn't my first time to Seoul. I came here to write about poker in 2012. That was the year Andrew Kim won the largest APPT Seoul Main Event. I have many great memories from that trip including visiting historic temples, consuming plenty of local food and a great end to one of the biggest APPT events of that season.
However, one of my most vivid memories of that tournament is unfortunately not a great one and one of the unique aspects of this poker room that I'm not a huge fan of. It was the smoking in the poker room. All that secondhand smoke simply gave me a headache each day after work. I don't know how the non-smoking players dealt with it. This negativity is probably because I hail from Australia and grew up in a generation which (thankfully) didn't have to live in an era of smoking wherever you like.
Luckily, I have already found during Day 1a of APPT Seoul that the smoke in the room is considerably less noticeable. This is perhaps because the poker room here at the Paradise Casino Walkerhill is seemingly going down the route of the Macau poker scene and beginning to change the smoking habits of tournament areas.
Smoking used to be a problem for the PokerStars Macau team, with players from Macau, usually able to smoke wherever they like in a casino, not accustomed to the "no smoking in the tournament area" rule. But after dozens of tournaments whereby APPT President Danny McDonagh had to tell players that there was no smoking in the tournament area, the message has become clear and there is no longer a haze of smoke consuming the poker room.
McDonagh has already ushered a few railbirds and their smoking away from the tables today and with a few signs in place, the message is clear here at APPT Seoul that if you want a smoke, you need to be far away from the tournament.
One of the other unique little tidbits about the poker room here at APPT Seoul are... wait for it... the toilets. It's not often I would mention toilets when writing about poker, but these are too different from those found in the usual western casino bathrooms that I just had to mention them.
What one of the Tournament Directors here at APPT Seoul, Sam Dawson, had to say about the toilets should just about sum it up: "If I'm cold, I'm just going to go sit on the toilet."
That's right, the toilet seats are heated. But that's just one of the many things these toilets are capable of. It's also a full bidet-style toilet with different water temperatures and pressure and all kinds of other options. The image of the instructional manual on the bathroom door below should let you know what's going on.
In an effort to change the subject away from bathrooms, I will now tell you that we are well and truly past the halfway mark of Day 1a and around 75 players are currently still alive and well. We are told that all of these players will soon be greeted by Burger King, pizzas and maybe some sushi - yet another of the unique aspects of APPT Seoul. The players aren't having a dinner break, but with little to no food options nearby to the poker room, the team at the APPT have no choice but to kindly offer some food to the players.
So shortstacks, make sure you aren't eliminated before the food gets here or you might miss out. If you are eliminated, maybe while you wait you can kill some time by going and having a smoke far away from the tournament area or maybe even go warm yourself up in the bathroom.