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APPT7 Seoul: Celebrity revenge

I'm huge in Japan.

The saying is plastered on millions of shirts across the world and it's often uttered after fairly neat party tricks. But most people aren't huge in Japan. Alex Niu is one of them.

He's enormous in Taiwan though.

Niu has hosted numerous shows, acted in others and even had a movie debut. If there's a television in Taiwan, chances are it's projected an image of Niu at some point.

He's been a presenter for music channels, was the official spokesperson for Nike in Taiwan, starred in multiple travel shows and hosted "Fear Factor Taiwan." He's so big that a Taiwanese TV crew flew out here just to get footage of the beloved TV host. They're interviewing him right now, while he's eating a Whooper*.

*Players and media were once again denied fried chicken. A big box of Whoppers came instead. Strike two APPT, strike two.


The charismatic Taiwanese superstar Alex Niu

Now they're filming him while he's playing poker. While this is Niu's first time playing poker in Seoul, he's not new to the game. Niu started playing poker around 20 years ago but really got into the game after the Moneymaker boom.

Niu then started playing live tournaments when they started popping up around Asia. Niu cashed in the Red Dragon event at the Macau Poker Cup last year but he wants more results. He won't be satisfied until his poker resume is as extensive as his normal one.

While Niu has personal reasons for being here, he's also on a mission on behalf of Taiwanese baseball fans. Revenge.

Earlier this month, Taiwan played against South Korea in the 2013 Wolrd Baseball Classic. Not only is baseball huge in Taiwan -- almost as big as Niu -- South Korea is one of its biggest rivals. Back in 2010, after a Taiwanese fighter was disqualified in a Taekwondo match in the 2010 Asian Games. The Taiwanese were fuming and wanted to boycott South Korean goods.

The boycott never happened, but the rivalry grew.

Then, on March 5th, the rivals faced eachother in the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taiwan.

"It was great, the stadium was packed. Twenty-five thousand people," Niu said. "And the rest of Taiwan was watching on TV. We were winning until the 8th inning and then Korea came back."

Niu Stack.jpg

Niu's stack

Taiwan had been leading 2-0 until the 8th inning when S. Korea scored a run followed by a two-run home run. The final score was 3-2 and Taiwan wasn't happy. Even with the loss, Taiwan won their pool and advanced to the next round while S. Korea was eliminated.

"Both teams were sad," Niu said. "We didn't beat our rivals, and they didn't advance."

Now, dressed in a Chinese Taipei baseball shirt, Niu is hoping to take down the APPT on Korean soil. While he's currently below average, Niu is still confident.

"Right now I'm trying to make it to Day 2," Niu said. "One step at a time, one step at a time."

Click through to live coverage of the APPT Seoul Main Event.

Alexander Villegas is a reporter for the PokerStars Blog.

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