Poker tournaments are a weird beast.
They're usually hairy and fairly smelly. They're irrational and unpredictable. Tournament staff try to tame them with penalty and tournament structures, but the beasts do what they want.
Play went to a screeching halt when we got down to 32 players. It took 59 minutes to lose one player. Then we lost six players in 45 minutes and got to the bubble. One thing you can count on the beast to do is tighten up during the bubble.
During that key phase where surviving one elimination means money and losing it means leaving empty handed, nothing seems to go in or out of the beast. Airtight.
The same has happened here. The field is littered with tiny stacks that used to be average but, just like sand, they've slowly slipped from players' hands. The tighter they held, the faster the blinds and antes chipped them away. There comes a point where players have to make the leap of faith though.
During this bubble, eight players have gone all-in and received a call. There have been eight double ups.
But the bubble can only get so tight before it pops.
The first double-up saw the expat, Jordan Westmorland go all-in against Sung Soo Chon.
Chon had A♠Q♠ and Westmorland held A♥K♠. Westmorland stood up and turned away, his friends told him to close his eyes. The board brought nothing but low cards and Westmorland's hand held up.
The next hand had a donkey.
Casey Kastle raised to 12,500 and Masahiro Osada moved all-in from the big blind. Kastle, with only about 53,000 behind, thought behind his masked face.
Then he grabbed his plastic donkey and moved it forward.
Osada showed 9♦9♥ and Kastle flipped over Q♥Q♦. The board came T♦2♥T♥4♥A♦ and Kastle picked up his donkey and gently carressed it. Then he kissed it through his facemask. That'll do donkey, that'll do.
Then we had another pair-vs-pair situation. Xuan Liu had called Jae Kyung Sim's all-in bet and showed 7♥7♦ to Sim's K♥K♦.Sim doubled up to just over 80,000 while Liu dropped to about 100,000.
Then it was Jason Lee's turn to double up. Aaron Lim called his all-in bet and showed pocket eights to Lee's pair of kings. As was standard since the bubble hit, the better hand held up.
Then we had a flip. The first.
In a battle of the blinds Masahiro Osada and Park "Sparrow" Yu Cheung got into a raising fest that ended with Osada moving all-in for 258,500. The Sparrow barely had him covered and called.
The flop came 9♣T♦4♥ and Osada hit a set. The Sparrow stood up and shook his head in disappointment. He was left with only 11,000 while Osada was up to about 320,000.
Osada tried to finish Sparrow up the next hand but failed. Sparrow put in his remaining chips with 9♣7♦ and Osada held Q♣Q♥.
Doom seemed imminent for Sparrow until the 6♠5♥3♦ flop hit the table. Straight draw. The turn was a Q♥ but the river brought a 4♦, doubling Sparrow up to about 25,000.
Then Taku Miyanga doubled up. He'd been holding on to his stack for a while but then put his final 8,000 in. Aaron Lim raised and the rest of the table folded. Miyanga showed A♣T♦ to Lim's K♣3♣. The flop paired Miyanga's 10 and he doubled up.
Aaron Lim would then double up another player. Lim raised to 20,000 and Lawrence Chung moved all in for about 50,000. Lim called and showed 5♣5♥ to Chung's A♥Q♥.
Since Chung was all-in the Korean poker deity had already predetermined that he was going to win. The board came Q♠J♥6♣7♥6♠ and Chung doubled up.
The bubble continues....
Click through to live coverage of the APPT Seoul Main Event.
Alexander Villegas is a reporter for the PokerStars Blog.