APPT Seoul: Winding it back
As the 2012 APPT Seoul gets under way here at the Paradise Walkerhill Casino in Seoul, we thought it would be interesting to wind the clock back to September 2008. It was the last time we were here and was one of the most memorable poker tournaments and final tables ever seen.
2004 World Champion Greg Raymer, JJ Liu, Hevad Khan, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, Celina Lin, Eddy Sabat, Bryan Huang, Ivan Tan, Van Marcus, Wooka Kim, Nik Lackovic, Dan Schreiber, Charles Chua, David Saab and Ron Kluber were among some of the notables players who took their seats among a field of 166 players for the Season 2 APPT Seoul Main Event. The buy-in was the same as this year's event (KRW 3,000,000) but there are expectations of a record-setting field this time around.
So while the numbers will certainly improve, we're curious to see what happens with the standard of play. Three years ago the play was, well...interesting.
We recall some slow periods on Day 1 where Jan Van Dyk assumed the chip lead narrowly ahead of David Saab as around half the field survived six levels of play.
Ayumi Okano didn't bother to show up on Day 2 as his stack blinded out, while Lily Bui copped a one-outer to see her pocket aces cracked as the final three tables were formed. David Saab was a huge chip leader and relentlessly pounded on his table as the money bubble approached - a strategy that would ultimately be his undoing.
One of the most memorable bubble hands we've ever seen saw Wooka Kim, David Saab and the eccentric Hidenari Shiono go to war with all the chips in the middle on a 6♥7♥9♥ flop. Saab had flopped two pair with his 7♣9♦ and he was screaming for a brick as Kim's J♥J♠ and Shiono's 8♥8♣ had plenty of outs. The turn was the Q♣ but the river was the A♥ to give both of Saab's opponents a flush. The rail roared with delight and Shiono was so excited he fell clean off the back of his chair and onto the floor!
Saab's fall from grace continued as he went from chip leader to bubble boy in devastating fashion as sixteen players were led into Day 3 by Canadian Brian Kang.
Chasing back-to-back APPT final tables, Bryan Huang fell in 13th place while Wooka Kim's fight for survival ended on the final table bubble.
Brian Kang continued to lead but it was the Japanese contingent that were continuing to make the running as Hidenari Shiono, Yuji Masaka and Yoshihiro Tasaka pushed the action.
PokerStars sponsored Dan Schreiber was arguably the most experienced player remaining, and was desperate to claim a victory for his adopted home, but the former StarCraft pro bowed out in 6th place after his flopped straight couldn't hold as Brian Kang's flopped set improved to a full house.
The drama didn't end there...
Another rare situation unfolded when Brian Kang was eliminated in third place. After a raising war developed, Yoshihiro Tasaka mistakenly opened his cards after thinking that Kang had called his all-in bet. He hadn't, but Tasaka's A♥Q♥ was still live and, despite seeing his opponent's cards, Kang decided there was enough value in the pot to gamble with his K♠7♣. You couldn't have written the script any better as the king turn was followed by an ace on river! The roof was raised as a rollercoaster of emotions flooded the Walkerhill Poker Room - the locals had never seen anything like it!
For his indiscretion,Yoshihiro Tasaka was slapped with a one-orbit penalty, so incredibly, the all-Japan heads-up battle kicked off with Hidenari Shiono playing the first two hands solo - yet another bizarre situation in this unique story.
The final chapter came when Tasaka called an all-bet with 2♣9♥ - simply because it was his favourite hand! He was up against A♠4♣ but a nine rolled off on the flop to see Yoshihiro Tasaka claim one of the most memorable victories we've ever witnessed and $128,216 in prize money.
If we can get half as much action and excitement in Seoul this time around, then we will be happy tournament reporters!
Photo credit: Joe Giron Photography