APPT Seoul: McKenzie out in the cold
As we pass the halfway mark of the opening day of play here at the APPT Seoul Main Event, there are currently 98 players remaining from the starting field of 129, and our chip leader is currently a pretty familiar face.
Is there anyone playing better/running hotter than Australian Oliver Speidel right now? The 2012 Aussie Millions champ is currently dominating the Walkerhill Poker Room as he has steamrolled his way to a commanding chip stack of almost 70,000 after dispatching several opponents in the early levels.
At the other end of the scale is Jesse McKenzie who hasn't had a great trip to Seoul so far.
McKenzie is a PokerStars Sunday Million winner and last year finished in third place in the ANZ Player of the Year race. He has incredible focus on the felt, but away from the tables, he's one of the most relaxed individuals I know.
We actually flew into Seoul on the same flight from Singapore yesterday, and I was staggered to learn that McKenzie didn't actually bring any check-in luggage with him. It was just a thin hoodie, jeans, a pair of flip-flops and whatever was in that over-the-shoulder backpack of his.
"You realise it's freezing cold in Seoul right Jesse?" I poked.
"Meh, I'll be fine,"he chirped. "I can always buy clothes."
Things got worse for McKenzie as our trip continued. As we waited to board the bus to our hotel, he snuck back inside for a few moments to escape the chill, only for our bus to arrive, and then leave without him on board, despite our pleas to the bus driver to wait. Apparently arm waving and shouting doesn't translate into stopping the bus in Korean.
But those sort of things don't worry this laid-back Aussie in the slightest, and neither will his recent elimination from the APPT Seoul Main Event after a series of hands went against him. First, he was forced to fold top pair in a healthy pot following some aggression from Casey Kastle, before his pocket aces were cracked by an opponent's flush soon after. His final stand came with ace-ten on a ten-high flop, only to walk into pocket kings.
Ever the optimist, McKenzie commented, "I'm going to go get something to eat, then come back and play some cash!" as he departed the room. It's that kind of relaxed mindset that makes him one of the most successful young players on the tour, and although he won't be reappearing in this tournament in Seoul, we have a feeling that his light travel load will probably pay off for him at the next APPT stop in Cebu.