APPT Seoul Day 1a: Hold the BBQ, it's time for poker
Poker is not the first thing that springs to mind when mentioning South Korea.
That's certainly one of the first things that springs to my mind.
Scores of succulent meat sizzling on a hot plate right in front of your eyes.
And Kimchi. Don't forget the Kimchi.
Oh, and the Soju.
But maybe not too much and none if you have to drive or, ahem, write about poker.
Those concerned less with meat and booze and the delights of Korean BBQ might think about all the wondrous technological trinkets that South Korea has given the world.
Take Samsung for instance - the largest information technology company in the world and one of the largest contributors to South Korea's economy.
You might remember Samsung from such technologies as everything you have in your house, your briefcase and your pocket. Just take a look around the palms of the locals around Seoul and you will notice there is barely an Apple product in sight, with the iPhone replaced by Samsung smart phones of varying sizes, though mostly of a monstrous size, somewhat incomprehensible to a Westerner.
Of course, when some people talk about South Korea they inevitably can't deny thinking and/or waxing lyrical about the proximity and relationship to their Northern counterparts. War is not a charming topic to talk about, but sometimes it can't be ignored.
Poker on the other hand, when discussing South Korea, is perhaps easily ignored.
Well, that was at least true a few years ago when poker didn't exist in South Korea, but for many years the team at PokerStars and the Asia Pacific Poker Tour have been doing their best to permeate poker into the culture of this fine nation.
It was back in 2007 that PokerStars first came to Seoul, South Korea. It was Season 1 of the APPT and at this point, poker, plainly and simply, didn't exist in this country. But then 186 players partook in the US$2,500 buy-in tournament and with that, poker had arrived.
Ziv Bachar took down the title in that inaugural year and players like Season 2 champion Yoshihiro Tasaka, Season 5 champ Andrew Kim and Season 7 victor Aaron Lim joined him on the winner's podium as the only four players to win APPT Seoul.
One more player will join that prestigious club this week.
The largest field for this tournament was in 2012 when Kim claimed the title. There were 268 players. That is a very solid number considering a strange regulatory law prohibits South Korean nationals from entering casinos. Luckily many South Koreans have dual citizenships with one of their neighbouring Asian countries and of course, the Macau and Japanese poker scene is thriving to the extent they will happily travel to South Korea to play in a prestigious APPT.
Take into account that when I spoke to APPT President Danny McDonagh at the most recent ANZPT back in Australia, he confidently said that the satellite numbers had been strong for this year's edition of APPT Seoul, and we are looking like having a big week of poker in Seoul.
Only time will tell just how many players will partake in the Season 8 APPT Seoul Main Event, but one thing is for sure - the PokerStarsBlog will be the best place to find out!
It will also be the best place to watch the journey of the latest APPT champion unfold, with feature stories and live reporting found on the APPT Seoul page. It all begins at 12:00 p.m. local time on Thursday, April 3rd and will conclude sometime late on Sunday evening!
With all this poker action keeping everyone busy in South Korea, it's going to be hard to find the time for BBQ.
But I'm sure we will squeeze it in.