APPT Seoul: Wakeman returns to his roots
For Matt Wakeman, winning a PokerStars online satellite into the APPT Seoul Main Event was about more than just winning another poker tournament. He's done that many times before. This is about exploring himself, his family and his culture, in a way that he's never seen before.
Wakeman is well known in the Australian poker community. Playing under the online handle of "mjw006", Wakeman has been the number one ranked online player in the country and previously sat inside the top ten in the world. He's a popular blogger for a number of different websites, regularly tweets to a large following and even hosts his own podcast.
With online earnings approaching US$1 million, Wakeman has yet to make his mark on the live poker scene, so qualifying for the APPT Seoul Main Event and making a deep run is hugely important to him. But this event in Seoul is about more than just poker.
Wakeman was born in Busan, on the Southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula, but was adopted by Australian parents when he was just three months old, spending his early years growing up in Newcastle in New South Wales. He always appreciated the quality lifestyle that was given to him and is Australian through and through. However the idea of returning to his roots in South Korea was something that he always wanted to achieve and now poker has afforded him that very opportunity.
"I was going to come to Seoul regardless of whether I won a package or not," said Wakeman to us in between hands in the Main Event. "Being a professional poker player, it was a great opportunity to come here for the first time."
As he grew a little older, Wakeman found a willingness to learn more about his background and understand the Korean culture.
"The question that everyone asks me is if I have met my birth parents, but meeting them has never really crossed my mind. I just want to learn more about the culture here," he added.
Following the APPT Seoul event, Wakeman will be spending an extra five days exploring the country and visiting the town where he was born. He'll be travelling solo, doesn't know a word of the Korean language and will be loving every minute of it.