Interview with Dom Choi: An Insider Look at Paradise City Poker Room

Recently, Paradise City, the very first integrated casino resort of its kind in South Korea, opened its doors to the world. The casino resort is one of the very few locations that has a poker offering.

To get to know more about this much anticipated addition to the poker industry, Somuchpoker sat down with Mr. Dom Choi, the director that oversees the poker room in Paradise City.

 The Paradise City entrance at night
The Paradise City entrance at night

Somuchpoker :  Hello, Dom. It has been a pleasure to meet you and to get to know more about the poker room here at Paradise City. First of all, tell us about Paradise Casino and its opening.

Choi : Paradise Group is a pioneer in the Korean tourism industry which includes hotels, gaming, travel & leisure. “Design Life as Art, Art as Life” is the message from the Paradise Group Chairman Phil-lip Chun. Paradise City is a testament to his vision and it’s evident when you set foot in the integrated resort.

Paradise City is not only Korea’s first integrated resort but first in Northeast Asia. The premium art-tainment resort combines hospitality and entertainment facilities such as hotel, casino, convention center, shopping, nightclub, spa, art gallery and carnival space.

The Grand Opening was an extravagant success. The opening ceremony of Paradise City was held on the 20th of April with Korea’s top celebrities in attendance including the brand ambassador Kim Soo Hyun, Incheon’s Mayor and over 500 guests.

SMP : We see that Paradise City is “where the past and future coexist.”  And yet, due to legislation, locals are not allowed to enter the casino. How will it work and how do you think the casino will change or affect the Korean and Asia gaming industry ?

Choi : With the opening of Paradise City, it becomes one of Korea’s grand landmarks for tourists, both foreign and domestic. Although Korean nationals cannot enter the casino gaming area, the resort continues to attract domestic tourists from all over the country.

It’s more than just a casino & hotel establishment, as you walk throughout the resort it feels like you are in an art gallery. Korea has always been popular choice as a destination for gaming particularly for neighboring countries such as China and Japan. And Paradise City’s location is ideal being an hour and half flight from neighboring countries such as Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo; within 4 hour flight from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau; and, 40 minutes from Seoul by public transport and 5 minutes from the Incheon International Airport by monorail. Paradise City will elevate the guest’s perception of gaming and leisure facilities to a higher level than any other properties available in Korea.

sample casino02As you walk throughout the resort it feels like you are in an art gallery” Dom Choi

[pullquote]The inaugural Paradise Poker Series will be held at Paradise City from May 26 to 28[/pullquote]

SMP : Paradise city is one of the very few casinos that offer Texas Hold’em. What kind of games do you offer and at what limits ? Do you have regular tournaments ?

Choi : We offer Texas Holdem, Omaha and Progressive Holdem. For Holdem and Omaha we offer $1-$1, $1-$3, $2-$5, $5-1$0, $10-$20 and above. We will hold regular weekly tournaments, as well as, major series throughout the year. The inaugural Paradise Poker Series will be held at Paradise City from May 26 to 28 featuring a KRW 1,000,000 Main Event and 3 side events during the 3 day series. My good friend and mentor, Danny McDonagh will be serving as the Tournament Director.

SMP : Paradise Group also offers poker in Paradise Walkerhill in Seoul. Will the offerings be identical ? Will operations in Incheon affect operations in Seoul ? Do you think that Incheon may end up cannibalizing from the established market Seoul already has ?

Choi : The offerings are similar but different. At WH we offer 1-2, 2-5 and 5-10 Games with a weekly tournament that happens every Sunday at 2 pm. WH Poker Room has been established over 10 years now and is the most popular room with foreign poker players living in Seoul and surrounding areas.

I don’t expect Incheon and Seoul will cannibalize from each other. Strategically, they are going to be positioned differently and catering to different markets local and abroad. If anything, having both properties offering poker, with excellent and competent poker room staff, allows each property to complement each other. It is a matter of making it work harmoniously without taking away from the other. We believe the strategy we have set will achieve these results in the long term.

SMP : Now that the casino is open, news from the grapevine says that you will be partnering with Pokerstars soon.  When will this happen and what can we expect from this partnership.

Choi : Paradise City Poker Room will run as an independent room. Our partnership with PokerStars will be in the form of serving as a host venue for the upcoming PokerStars Festival Korea, July 14-24 2017. The Paradise brand has had a fruitful relationship with PokerStars since 2007, hosting the former Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) at our Walkerhill location.

SMP : Apart from Pokerstars, can the poker community expect other major events from Paradise Casino ?

Choi : As mentioned we will be running an independent room. This allows us not to be tied to any one particular brand which can restrict the offerings to all poker players regionally and globally. You can expect Paradise City to host major events throughout the year from various poker brands, including our own Paradise Poker Series which we hope to grow into a series that players will enjoy and that becomes a regular marked event on their yearly calendars.

Overview of the casino
Overview of the casino

SMP : With a great majority of the community saying that Asia is the new frontier for poker, how does the presence of the new Paradise City Poker Room and its progressive vision affect the poker community ?

Choi : Poker is definitely growing in Asia, and the Asian market continues to inject new players to the global market. Many years ago you wouldn’t see players from Asia traveling to Europe or the United States unless they were professionals or wealthy but now even recreational players are starting to play in events around the world. It’s more than just a card game, it’s a lifestyle and adds value to something people already love doing which is to travel to great destinations and make memories. Being able to do that and have a chance to win some money while doing something you enjoy is a blessing. We are confident that Paradise City resort and the Poker Room will become a place where you make everlasting memories and develop friendships along the way.

SMP : Thank you very much, Dom for taking the time to tell us more about Paradise City.  We look forward to seeing great events in Paradise City Poker Room

Choi : Thank you Gabby. Look forward to having you and all the players visit our poker rooms in the near future !

Interview by Gabrielle Barredo