We're down to 18 players as the players head on their first break of the day. Poring over my table draw (rife with scratches as each successive player busts), I noticed a surprising distribution of nationalities left in the event. Take a look:
Australia - 5
Korea - 3
India - 2
Canada - 1
China - 1
Hong Kong - 1
Philippines - 1
Sweden - 1
Thailand - 1
UK - 1
Vietnam - 1
It's not surprising that a third of the remaining field is from Australia. The Aussies have always been strong supporters of the APPT and boast the oldest, most entrenched poker culture in the Asia Pacific region. It helps when one of the "boom year" WSOP Main Event champions is from your country, I suppose, but that pays short shrift to all that Aussie poker was even before Joe Hachem's landmark win in 2005.
More interesting to me is the rest of the spread. Three Koreans, despite the fact that Koreans can't gamble within the borders of their own country. Two Indians, even though there has almost never been a major buy-in live poker tournament held in South Asia. And then a host of singletons, ranging from as near as Hong Kong to as far as Sweden. There's even an American in there, disguised as a Thai. And of course one last Filipino, carrying the standard for the home team.
Half of the field is from East Asia; a third is from Australia. Toss in a few South Asians and this is shaping up to be a strong regional final table. Gone are the days when the Americans would come over to Asia and dominate the fields. The APPT, slowly but surely over the course of five seasons, has become a showcase for the region's local poker talent.
It's still too early to know who's going to win this one. It could be Macau regular Bobo Chen. Maybe Indian newcomer Amit Varma. Perhaps Korean Sungsik Bae will continue a tradition of strong play from his home country. Or maybe Jacky Wang, an Asian-Australian, will bring the title down under.
What we do know is that this international final 18 players shouldn't be surprising. Yesterday American Carter Gill noted that his entire table came from different countries. Carter himself now claims two countries as home. Given how things are going today, if Carter makes the final table we could have 10 countries represented tomorrow.