Sometimes the beginning of a poker tournament is the hardest time to think of anything to write about. Quite simply, nothing has happened yet. Generally what the would-be poker writer would do is try to come up with something interesting about the location, the people behind the scenes, the history of the event, or maybe if desperate, the local weather. Sitting here early on Day 1a of the APPT Seoul Main Event and there is one subject I just can’t ignore and that’s why you are currently reading a piece entitled, “Ghost of champions past.”
Champions. They are everywhere.
I’m talking about champions of the Macau, Philippines, Seoul and Australian kind.
The first champion we noticed was the most recent player to lift a trophy on the Asia-Pacific poker scene – one who goes by the name Hao Chen. Not only is Chen the most recent player to win a major tournament in this region, he also happens to now hold the record of having won the largest field poker tournament in Asian history after defeating a field of 1,804 players to claim the 2014 Macau Millions. Chen is not hard to miss in a field like this, with the black shaved sides of his hair and the trademark blonde lick through the middle making him stand out.
Joining Chen at the felt are a couple of Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon champions.
One of those couple has a couple of titles of her own. Yep, we are speaking about Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin. There arguably hasn’t been any player more successful than Lin in this region over a long period of time. Lin first won the Red Dragon in 2009, defeating a field of 168 players, and then did it all again in 2012 when she overcame a 391-player field to add a six-figure prize to her immense poker record and become the only player to have slayed the Red Dragon twice.
Lin isn’t the only Red Dragon champion at the felt. We also have the most recent Red Dragon champ Buyanjargal Bold. It was just this past January that Bold won his title, defeating a record-breaking 995 players to win the HK$1,492,000 (US$192,404) top prize. While she isn’t a “champion” herself, Percy Yung deserves a mention at this juncture as she was the runner-up to Bold. We don’t want to create any animosity where there likely isn’t any, but from this day forward we deem Bold and Yung bitter enemies.
There aren’t only Macau champions here on Day 1a of APPT Seoul.
There is also a champion of this very event.
Last year 222 players partook in the APPT Seoul Main Event. After four days of poker, Australian WSOP gold bracelet winner Aaron Lim had claimed the KRW 121,700,000 top prize. All those zeros are so pretty that we don’t really want to convert the amount into a currency that many of our readers understand. But for the sake of clarity, we can tell you Lim picked up US$111,088.
The champions don’t stop here. We are also graced with the presence of Jae Kyung Sim, winner of the 2013 APPT Cebu Main Event. Sim goes by the very memorable nickname “Simba” and proved he was king of the jungle when defeating a field of 158 players to pick up just under six-figures US.
At the moment it seems there is a biased towards winners of major PokerStars events in Asia and that’s not unsurprising considering we are in South Korea. However, Sam Razavi ensures that biased ends right here as he was a late entrant on Day 1a.
Razavi claimed AU$326,125 back in 2012 when he won the APPT Melbourne Main Event. That was one of the toughest final tables in APPT history with Razavi overcoming Tom Grigg, Gary Benson, James Bills, Kristian Lunardi and Brendon Rubie.
Originally from Britain, Razavi is now based in the Philippines, so didn’t have to travel an obscene distance to come play APPT Seoul. When Razavi first sat down late on Day 1a, he told us that he was also late on Day 1 of APPT Melbourne and was hoping to start some sort of pattern. If only poker worked that way.
Registration is only open until the end of the fourth level of the day, which isn’t too far away. The tournament clock currently tells us that 118 players have entered on Day 1a and one of those 118 very well could join all of these players I’ve mentioned as a champion of a major Asia-Pacific poker tournament.
Of course, they will have to fight it out with all of the players from tomorrow’s Day 1b and by all reports there will be even more entrants than today, so unfortunately for today’s players, the odds of where the champion comes from will be in the favour of Day 1b.