The ongoing pandemic has hit the live poker scene extremely hard, halting operations and cancelling majority of the events lined up for the year. In an interview with Asia Poker League (APL) tournament director, Jimmy Chun shares with its readers the obstacles the tour has been experiencing given the situation. He also highlights the upcoming APL series to take place in Korea a few days from now and how it will be different from past events.
Established in 2016, APL has hosted multiple festivals in various countries around the Asian region, building the brand’s success in the live field via partnership with local poker communities.
Somuchpoker: Being the current tournament director of the Asia Poker League, can you share with us how you started in the industry and what brought you to this position?
Jimmy Chun: It has been over a decade since I started working in the poker industry. I began my career back in 2007 as a floor manager for the first poker room in Korea, Paradise Walkerhill Casino. Prior to that, I was already familiar with the game being a recreational player myself.
SMP: It has been four years since the Asia Poker League launched its first event in Beijing back in August 2016. What are your views as an insider on this journey?
JC: We have been very fortunate to have come this far considering the stiff international competition. Until now, I still see it as a rollercoaster ride as the industry remains volatile and relatively tougher every year. In my opinion, I sense that the market is getting smaller while the competition in the live scene is continuously increasing.
SMP: As we all know, the COVID-19 situation has massively impacted the live poker community bringing abrupt and inevitable changes for events throughout the world. How do you think the pandemic has affected APL and you personally as well?
JC: The pandemic has unfortunately disrupted most of our plans for the year. Initially, APL had a great plan for 2020 but was left with no choice but to cancel all our events for the first half of the year with the second half remaining very uncertain. At the moment, it is not possible for us to host any international events given the circumstances. Additionally, several casino poker rooms in the region have not reopened its doors to the public, limiting live poker operations across Asian countries.
SMP: The next APL event is set to take place in Korea. Before getting into the details of the event itself, can you provide us a brief overview of the current live poker scene in the country?
JC: I would have to say that the live poker scene in Korea before the pandemic ensued was at its peak. Local players were divided into two types of player groups, cash game players and tournament players, where both had many options to turn to for their preference. Many home games and underground locations were available for cash games while several poker pubs run daily tournaments.
SMP: What are the highlights of this upcoming festival and your personal expectations for the event?
JC: Due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 situation, our capacity will be reduced leaving our schedule of events to be limited as well. Highlighting the festival, our featured Main Event will cover a KRW 300 million (~USD 249,265) guaranteed prize pool with about over 600 players expected to join. Four other events will be running alongside the Main Event including the usual High Roller, No Limit Hold’em and two different Turbo events.
SMP: APL has also tackled the online poker circuit launching its own official client, APL Poker. Can you share your insight into the synergy between the live and online poker scene?
JC: APL Poker Online works simultaneously with the brand’s reputation across the live poker scene, helping to promote our international events in the past. It has also been a good tool to host affordable satellites for bigger events, as well as to get new players to jump in the action and recognize APL’s standing in the poker community.