APPT Seoul: Twice as nice

March 10, 2012

A funny thing may be underway here in Seoul. Not funny ha-ha, but funny curious. Curious like the curiosity of the NAPT Mohegan Sun events in 2010 and 2011, when Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier went back-to-back in their respective events (the Main Event for Selbst; the Bounty Shootout for Mercier).

We’re now less than one table from the bursting of the money bubble. Of the 35 players remaining in our field, two of them have been in this position as recently as two months ago. Oliver Speidel (145,000) and Ken Wong (135,000) both have seven-figure scores under their belts this year. They finished 1-2 in this year’s Aussie Millions Main Event. Wong earned AUD 1,000,000 for his runner-up performance; Speidel’s cut for winning was AUD 1,600,000.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that we’re a long, long, long way away from the final table of this tournament. I’d be the first to admonish against looking too far into the future. But wouldn’t it be great to see the two battle it out heads-up again, just two months later?

Speidel, an Australian, by all accounts is the definition of an “enthusiast” or “dabbler” when it comes to poker. A banker by trade, he’s the kind of guy who would still play drunken $1-$2 NLHE with his friends the night after winning seven figures. He’s seated at one of the far tables in what APPT President Danny McDonagh calls “the alcove” but what I call “the icebox”. The area is located directly beneath two lines of air vents that have been blasting cold air all day.


APPT President Danny McDonagh’s work table in the Icebox yesterday made way for tournament tables today.

We don’t know as much about Wong. He’s wearing a Titleist cap today, leading me to surmise he may be a golfer. He’s also shown that he’s not afraid to play back at table-mate Michael Guzzardi. Both of them are probably getting sick of each other after spending the last several nights foregoing sleep in the juicy cash game side action that’s been taking place.

With the average stack currently at 153,000, Wong and Speidel both have a lot of work to do if they want to get back to heads-up play. But in a tournament that so far is progressing without many of the usual bells and whistles (no massage therapists, no rail and no Team Pros left in the field), it’d be great for a little of the NAPT Mohegan Sun magic to make its way out east to Korea.


Kenneth Wong


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