As I was packing up my laptop in my hotel room this morning, I spotted a stand-up on the nightstand advertising hotel massage services available by dialing Guest Services. Forty minutes of what massage go for the very reasonable rate of KRW 49,000, or about $45. I made a mental note that if I have any cash left over on Monday morning when I check out of my room, I'll arrange for a massage.
That's when it hit me that there are no table massage therapists working the APPT Seoul Main Event.
Sure, yesterday was "Healthy Day" at the Paradise Walkerhill Casino. From 7pm to 11pm casino patrons could take advantage of a neck correction that was offered somewhere on the premises, presumably by licensed therapists. But there are no massage therapists working this tournament.
For poker in 2012 that's highly unusual. On the EPT, the LAPT and the NAPT you can't look three tables without spotting someone getting a rub-down. Massage therapists have become as much a part of the traveling circus that is the tournament poker circuit as bloggers have.
I'll be honest - I've never had a table massage and I've never been a big fan of the idea of table massages. I used to think that table massages were the height of pretension, designed solely to show off that an attractive woman is rubbing on you (by and large the massage therapists are all women). Anyway, how relaxing can a table massage be, really?
But having discussed this issue over the years with the players, they all swear by table massages. Spending long days, day after day, hunched over a poker table can create some tension in your back. The table massage therapists are the masters who work out the knots and bring a little stress relief to players making decisions for tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I don't think the lack of massage therapists here in Seoul is an APPT issue. I seem to recall local therapists working the Cebu event the last time I was there in 2010. I guess like everything else there could be legal impediments to therapists working this particular tournament here in Korea.
Unfortunately "Healthy Day" at Paradise is only every Thursday. Today is "Enjoy Day". From 8 to 830pm and 10 to 1030pm the schedule calls for "paradisegirls", "vocal Yujin" and "world beer".
I guess we'll just have to suffer.