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Sleepless Rant

I'm awake at 5am for the third night in a row. The first was deliberate, as I had an early morning flight to catch back to Toronto from Vegas. I thought the second restless night was due to my discovery of a Dominion app, which kept me up between 3:30 and 11am. Tonight I am certain something's awry because I am exhausted but my heart is beating like a hammer as I lay in bed after a 30min nap at 4am.

This is going to sound super cheesy, but I think I'm a little anxious my life is currently going so well. It wasn't too long ago when I made the conscious decision to be happy, and things are falling into place so very nicely in pretty much every facet of my personal and work life. I was very directionless with an unsteady foundation of self-esteem at one point. I've read dozens of "self-help" books in between my poker literature and have gone on various forms of self-exploration. I think I've come a long way, and the mission now is to make this trend sustainable.

My trips to Vegas and Cali were probably the best I've ever had. No poker victories in the three tournaments I played, but a lot of enjoyable downtime hanging out with people I'm glad I got to know a little better. I've always had mixed feelings towards L.A., but the weather and food tends to make me forget all the bad stuff. We were lucky enough to stay in a guesthouse in the Hills and wake up to dogs running around and roses outside our window, far away from the Commerce noise.

It was also my first time in San Jose, and I was quite impressed by Bay 101 and their hospitality. I may be a tad biased since I was spoiled and felt a little out of place on a private jet along with some of poker's finest, but honestly, the tournament was so much fun to play and even just to be around. I couldn't get much going at the feature table with Elky, Jason Mercier, Nick Grippo, and 3rd place superstar FloesKnowShoes, but I'm satisfied with my play without a hand all day. I also signed my first autograph! His name was Mark and he had two glossy photos of my EPT and PCA final table shots. I'm sure he has a collection of pro portraits, but it still made me kind of giddy inside.

I also had a lot of fun in Vegas. We drove an hour through the desert to Mt. Charleston to snowboard. Microclimates are cool. I'm still a noob who makes a lot of mental errors, but I'm starting to have a lot of fun off my butt and am pretty impressed by my own progress. I hit my head really hard which was scary, but the permanent damage is probably comparable to a night of heavy drinking. I also left a nice ~$350 tip in the rental jacket pocket. The next day we went hiking at Red Rock. Not gonna lie; I totally got dragged into it. My tailbone hurt and I wasn't sure about messing with mountains two days in a row, but I was glad I did by the time we were lying down sunbathing up top.

I want to get in top notch shape before WSOP. I've already solicited the help of my good friend Seok (who just had an Epic Meal Time themed party) as a personal motivator. I don't think I have too many insecurities about my body. My physique and workout regimen fluctuates and I enjoy playing sports and staying active in ways that don't involve me feeling like a hamster on a wheel. I just want to consistently be able to perform at my best, since poker is by and large a game of mental and physical stamina. It won't be easy, since I love food very much. We didn't grow up with much, but my grandma always told me that everything can be compromised, except a good meal. I think publicizing this goal will help me stay on track.

Alright, time to try to sleep again. My pending schedule for the next few months: Toronto, WPT Vienna, EPT Berlin, EPT Monte Carlo, PPC Aruba, Toronto, WSOP. My lease in Toronto expires in May so it's also time to figure out where I want to live next. An epic cross-Asia trip sometime after the series is also in the works.

Good night and sweet dreams.

Bring it on, 2012

I enjoy blogging but life has been good to me and I've been busy. Since my last blog I've been to Hawaii, learned how to snowboard, final tabled PCA, celebrated the Dragon Lunar New Year at home, went to Whistler/Vancouver, and saw old friends at the Fallsview Poker Classic.



Half an hour before New Years countdown I was still at my computer, grinding away hyper-turbos to make Supernova for the year. No, it's not a significant milestone by any grinder standards but I spent much of 2011 on the road so it was an achievement for me. I was also very lucky to have some of my favourite people right behind me sacrifice half of their evening for my sake. It was a really good night.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to do PCA, Aussie Millions, both, or neither the first week of January. I think I made the right decision. I played the best six days of poker of my life and was profoundly rewarded. I made sweet plays, soul-read, induced, stayed focused, and had the best rail and support system. After day 3 I often was barely top 5 at many of my tables but I played fearlessly against these sickos and capitalized on my strengths. I didn't have to win a true flip for all of my chips at any point in the tournament, except in a 3-way pot with JJ where I lost chips to QQ but AK had me covered, still resulting in a net loss. I lost AK vs. AA to a short Ruben Visser. I won a huge bvb pot AQ to KT vs. Assasinato for the chiplead with 2 tables left. I won AK vs. QJ to someone who didn't trust girls' 3-bets. I played great postflop, minus a questionable play early at the final table against Kyle Julius. I lost A7 to Faraz Jaka's A6 for 4th place. I added $600,000 to my tournament winnings this year.

I could elaborate and write an extensive essay on the 44 hand vs. Kyle's QQ but I won't. I talk about it briefly in some interviews. In a nutshell it was probably too marginal, but taking everything else into consideration I don't mind it. Some people loved it and others hated it. Pulling triggers is usually a good thing as long as you're thinking.

I haven't watched any of the coverage or interviews from my Final Table because I'm one of those people who cringe at how awkward I am when I hear my own voice or see myself on video. The hole cards were on a delay, so I got most of the scoop from my rail. I feel like I've gotten a lot better with interviews, but I could definitely still use some media training. I also looked super tired, because I was! Playing 6 long days of intense poker will do that to you. I was also very touched with all the support from Tweeters and the general media, I wish I had time to reply to them all.



I also tried to fly my parents and my sister down to watch my final table, but it wasn't meant to be. They ended up wasting six hours at the airport, and I didn't find out they weren't coming until after my bustout. I pretty much passed out immediately. I was crushed, but still managed to have a great time at the Pokerstars party the next day. I missed my morning flight of course, but it turned out alright because I was around to bail out Timex' friend from Bahamian jail.

I'm proud to be a poker player. I don't advertise this fact to the general public enough. As a group I think we are mostly generous, good-hearted people. We have flexible schedules and get to travel the world playing a game, so of course we should be happier than most. Sometimes we run bad and even the best foods lose flavour, but if you are skilled enough, other players will take care of you. Having said this, I also believe many of us live in a bubble. We undervalue almost everything, and easily lose perspective on what's important. I know I'm just starting off in the poker world, but I never want that to happen to me.

LAPC and Bay 101 is next, and I will most likely be in Europe for WPT Vienna, EPT Berlin, and EPT Monte Carlo in April. Happy Year of the Dragon and see you guys on the felt!

London, Cannes, San Remo pt. 3

London

I was excited to arrive in London town and back on the live tournament circuit. I had won a real package and two ladies packages on Pokerstars, and it was nice to see a lot of friends I had been out of touch with since WSOP. Despite only dabbling briefly in what it has to offer I had a really good time. The weather was unusually nice for this time of year and it was evidenced by the fact that practically every free square foot of grass was being taken advantage of. There would be lawn chairs aligned outside commercial buildings for grateful sunworshippers. I even spent an afternoon sleeping in the sun at Hyde Park in central London.

I didn't cash in London but have no problem with any of my plays in the side events. Came close in the first mega-satty after building a solid stack then getting coolered AK to AA and lost a bunch of flips in a row with about 10 left. Lost AA to KK and AQ in the turbo bounty for an enormous stack & perfect position to bust shorties in the £1k +£1k turbo bounty, and made day 2 of a £1k only to bust a few from the money QQ to AA with an average stack. The main event was probably one of the most unfruitful days of live poker I can remember. The table wasn't particularly difficult, I was just unable to to show down a winning hand or catch a break all day in even the tiniest of pots.

The ladies event was fun but still unprofitable. I had the lovely Vicky Coren at my table again (we had played together most of day 1 in the WSOP ladies event), which was cool because I had just started her book, For Richer, For Poorer and related to it right away. Zinzi, another qualifier from Toronto whom I had met the night before at the Pokerstars women mixer was also at the table playing her first ever live tournament. She made me feel all fuzzy inside when she messaged me a few weeks later saying it was inspiring to see a girl from our part of the town get this far and stay humble. What a sweetheart.

We went out a few nights that week: once to celebrate Mel and Justin's birthday at a high-end sushi joint, once to Joel Roubuchon's L'Atelier, and to the Pokerstars party at the impressive Kensington Rooftop Gardens after I busted from another 1k£. It started raining soon after I got there so for awhile a lot of people on the patio double-fisted (the open bar was closing) while huddled under the canopy together. There was a nice campy feel to it all, especially since the dealers were invited to this party. I won't go into more details but some keywords for the night: Vampy wig, big fish little fish cardboard box, dim sum cab ride, throwing squishy balls.

Cathy, Dylan, and I also made time to do some touristy stuff in town. We started at Buckingham Palace, strolled through St. James Park, and appreciated the House of Parliamement and Westminster Abbey from the outside before getting hungry and finding an authentic fish n chips experience. Yup. That's all there was time for!

L'AtelierBuckingham Palace


Cannes

If you had asked me a year ago if I could see myself strolling along the boardwalk in the French Riviera watching very rich people with little dogs window shop and get leathery tans I would tell you that was not on my bucket list but definitely had its appeal. Now WSOPE Cannes is just another stop on my tournament circuit and I would have the Mediterranean outside my balcony at my bidding. Sure I have yet to acquire a French flag on my Hendonmob, but I have no complaints basking in sunshine and wining and dining every day pretending this is what I had been made for.

I had two places to call home on this trip, one with Team Butter, whose lineup would make my short career look like a footnote in each of their resumes, and one at the Hotel Majestic Barriere, where a real bonsai was a prop in the room and where housekeepers actually dress like French maids do in movies. Team Butter (named after the street our boutique apartment was on, Buttura) would prepare these delicious healthy family meals together that made me feel incredibly lucky to be a part of. The apartment decor was eccentric and I liked it all, but my favourite piece would have to be the shrink bed in the common room where I spent time basking in the sun. Miranda made the place so homely by picking up after her kids and even finishing our laundry when she overhears we're out of clean clothes.





Poker wise, I busted the 6max KK<66 vs. the friendly Devilfish, busted the 1k after playing a pretty solid day and finally making a bad supershort stack frustration play after grinding a <15bb stack for 2 levels, and bubbled 2 mega-satties which was pretty gut-wrenching because I was almost guaranteed a seat both times if it weren't for a series of very unfortunate events. The good thing about playing these was that I had the pleasure of finally meeting Hikaru Nakamura briefly at my table. We had chatted online after meeting him through mutual friends. I used to love chess when I was young and even have a medal from middle school city championships. Reading his blog and trying to keep up with the technical posts was amusing. Although there is practically no money in chess, being at the top of his field also allows him to compete worldwide, often with a sponsorship. The cultural difference is that chess is a lot more acceptable in the eyes of academics and the general public, so it was pretty fascinating reading about his validation struggle with his parents.

There were also some sweet final table sweats. Arnaud unfortunately got sucked out pretty badly to final table bubble the main, but Max made a sick run. Maddog's rail for the shootout finals was pretty awesome, we took turns buying bottles of fine wine to drink out of dentist cups in the front row. Dan was probably the most "spirited". He kept demanding the announcer call Mike, 'Maddog' and eventually had a drinking accident from toasting too hard and bloodied his hands from the wine glass. No wonder they wanted us to stick to the dentist cups. He couldn't draw attention to it for fear that the security guard who had already given us several warnings would kick him out, so he just sat there injured with his hands on his lap. Pretty amazing.



The food in Cannes outside the hotel and casino was incredible. For Dom's 21st(!) birthday we went to the 2 Michelin Star rated La Palme d'Or. The food and service was fine and fancy, but it didn't blow my mind. For much better value, Pizza Xavier was the absolute nuts, and I also loved the duck, escargot, and octopus salad at le Petit Paris. I pigged out pretty hard in Cannes, but it probably doesn't even come close to the amount of delicious carbs I had in San Remo.

Didn't really go out too much at this stop as most nights were spent hanging out at the apartment or somewhere easy. Although I was unable to attend the official WSOPE party I'm pretty sure the night we had at the American Irish bar was way better. It was an island of a place, you wouldn't have realized you were in posh France from the atmosphere here. There was live music and eventually half the poker community made it out to pack the house. It was probably the best night on the trip.

The next day the stunning Tatjana and Calvin Ayre team set me up for an interview. Needless to say I wasn't the most coherent with my thoughts, but they're pros at making people look good on camera so I was impressed with the results. For logistical reasons we decided not to stay for the final table. We said goodbye to the now-dead Bonsai and drove down the Cote d'Azur to Italy.

Professional Poker Player Xuan Liu Interview Video



San Remo

Money-wise the trip up to this point was not the best for me, so the approach to San Remo was much anticipated. I was back in my beloved villa with most of Team Eames, although no celebratory bbq was to be had here this time. My table for Day 1 of the main was somewhat of a joke against the field. By joke I meant you wouldn't have known you were at EPT San Remo looking at this table because everyone was competent. I wasn't worried, but it meant I couldn't expect free chips left and right like last year. My dear Spinks was to my left which made for some interesting hands and good times. I finished the day above average after getting a bluff for most of my stack through then doubling up in a race vs. Alessio Issaia near the end. He was severely crippled after this but managed to impressively claw his way to 12th. The dream ended on day 2. It was a fine table with two fellow Canadians to my left, one of which was 888 pro and bracelet winner Tyler Bonkowski from Regina. I had never met anyone from Regina before. However, it was the Kevin MacPhee show at my first table the whole way. He played really well but definitely got some sick hands to knock players out left and right. After the table change I chipped up easily til I lost a race for another anti-climactic finish.

It was off to the bar for a rather silly night. Some may call me an enabler, but let's just say Maria and Jake have perfected the craft. I remember Jen Harman joining us halfway through the night. She's the female player I respect the most after reading her inspirational stories in Deal Me In, a collection of stories about how poker players turned pro and from The Professor the Banker and the Suicide King. Unfortunately I didn't tell her this because I wasn't at my classiest that night.

I missed the ladies event at San Remo to take a day trip to breathtaking Eze, France. It's a small, charming, castle-town by the sea, with statues of fable creatures and a giant chess set in the garden overlooking the epic view. I'm well aware of how lucky I am, but being right there at that time with very special company summed it up pretty neatly.



Of course being in San Remo we had Mare Blu or the Argentinian restaurant everyday. Yes, the ravioli and lobster pasta are still amazing and yes I got a new gym membership when I got home. I definitely prefer the sense of community in smaller tournament stops where there are only a couple of spots in town to go so everyone can gather instead of it often being cliquey in bigger cities.

Something good poker-wise eventually happened this trip. After a day of drinking since early afternoon and playing 19 (a new variation of Chinese Poker), we decided playing and drinking at the "Win the Button" €330 event would be the natural progression to the day. I had the best position in the event, directly to Scott's left to snap him off when his scotch kicked into high gear. I had a sweet stack early on thanks to him and finished 4th, continuing my streak of final tables in San Remo. The rail was pretty awesome and rowdy, I felt like I was playing for a million rather than €16,000. Amongst it was Busto_Soon, who I met after I made an error shoving against during the main of EPT Copenhagen. I once told him he reminded me of Rorschach, my favourite character from The Watchmen. Dylan was also there after ending the night as chipleader at his €2k final table. He finished third the next day, but without a doubt deserved the win, especially after getting very unlucky against a player who justified a call by saying it was his favourite hand.



The trip ended with another epic night out at the Stars party. Of course a lot of shenanigans occured and we ended back at the local "strip club". Champagne was had, people got their lapdances in the VIP/storage room, post-drinking sandwiches were eaten, and we got back in time for last-minute packing and our 7am taxi. The trip home was pretty awful since we missed our flight from London to Toronto after being stuck in a customs line despite being at the airport an hour and a half before departure time. Life leaks! It was better value to rebook a roundtrip flight so now I have a seat on a plane to London in September 2012.

I was pretty relieved to be back home. I really do love my new apartment with the amazing view across from the CN Tower that gives me a light show every night. I get to hang out with friends who keep me grounded, eat relatively healthy food (minus local pub runs a few nights a week), work out regularly, and make money online with infinitely fewer expenses to worry about. This isn't to say I don't always have an electrifying time on poker trips. I hang out with brilliant people. I get to explore foreign cultures. I eat great food. I discover more about myself. Nope, no complaints there.



It actually depressed me for little while coming to the realization that I will probably never have anything unique or groundbreaking to contribute to the field and that I still have so much work to do if I want to be consistently competitive at world-class standards. I'm pretty over it now after concluding that I'll just have to keep being harder on myself than any critic, keep putting in hours, and turn every mistake into credit for a massive pot of gold on a later date.

I've had good results online since I've been back after a long and disappointing WCOOP that evaporated most of my profits from post-WSOP. Next week I'm going on a real vacation for the first time in years to Maui with some of my favourite people. After that there's a small chance of WPT Bellagio, then some combination of PCA, Aussie Millions and Fallsview Poker Classic in the new year.

Summer's end in Toronto

A bit more than halfway through my first WCOOP. Disappointed with my results thus far but still optimistic with 8 days of action left. My schedule has been pretty packed and I feel I throw in just the right amount of fun and entertainment to keep me sane for the duration. Unfortunately it's very difficult to fit in more than two of these on any given day: grind, gym, go out, adequate sleep. I have a yoga ball and an elastic band I use to roll around and stretch during breaks, but I was in a pretty good groove right before WCOOP so I still feel like I'm slacking.

I've also just about perfected a system of food preparation for grind days. The night before I would do the necessary meal planning, marinating, putting sammiches together etc. Then during the ~5 minutes of freedom I would turn on the heat and complete an entire meal AND use the washroom before my tables started up again. Sometimes it would take a little longer and I would have to randomly run back to the kitchen and thus time out in arbitrary spots which must confuse people, but overall it's very efficient. Today I had an egg wrap with honeydew smoothie for breakfast, a grilled pesto turkey sandwich for lunch, and spicy soy-ginger salmon with brussel sprouts for dinner. Not too bad for spending 13 hours in front of the computer, huh?

Toronto is getting colder and I'm looking forward to going back to Europe for EPT London, WSOPE Cannes, and EPT San Remo. Even though relatively speaking I haven't spent that much time across the pond, I feel my experiences there were so dramatic that trips to Europe will always be an integral part of my life. I will miss my apartment and its fabulous view, no-nonsense workspace, and the impression of accomplishment it gives me, but friends and adventures await! Hopefully there will be a happy WCOOP wrap-up post to come, and I promise I will pull my own teeth and write about WSOP. I really did have an amazing time and would hate to let the memories fade.

San Remo

I was in San Remo, Italy twice during a five-month period. The first time was in December 2010 for an IPT series as part of my maiden voyage to Europe. I wanted to Dora it up and explore the continent a little in between EPT Barcelona and EPT Prague. I'd never been to Italy before, and the promise of being somewhere new with a soft tournament field and authentic Italian food was enough for me to book a cheap hotel room beside a Strip Club by myself for the week. Chopping a 1ke side event was nice, and it was my first legit accomplishment since my tournament stint. The poker on my second trip in April continued where it left off, but almost everything else was the opposite. I didn't have to eat by myself, and I knew something rather than nothing about the tournament circuit.

I stayed with Team Noctus for the first night at a standard Stars' hotel before my luggage and my Euro friends arrived. I wore the same clothes for almost 3 days straight, including to the Pokerstars Party. It worked out that way because I was in-flight wearing those clothes, arrived at night after the local shops were closed, and was occupied until the next evening when I finally bought a new outfit. Then I decided to be a trooper and save it for 1A the next day because I was still uncertain when my luggage would find me. Definitely pretty gross, but after the amazing poker that ensued the superstitious Asian in me secretly wishes I would lose my bags more often.

The night before the main we moved into a charming villa Vampy and Andrew found. At a fraction of the price of a hotel room, it was also amazingly spacious and comfortable, especially when lucky enough to be given one of the best rooms in the house. I was still jetlagged in the early morning so I went for a brisk walk along the water to the supermarket in some light rain. I absolutely love it when it drizzles in warm weather, especially if the sun is out. Everything was set up perfectly for optimal performance. Our place was so big that we didn't even realize Vampy had been locked in as we all left for a scheduled noon start time. We all assumed he left early since we hadn't seen him in awhile around the humongous house. He called us being quite upset and I prudently bought out as they RPS'd to see who would go back to grab him. Luckily the tournament started almost three hours late due to inefficiencies in the buy-in process and none of us were late.


The tournament room had great energy off the bat and it was an impressive mix of international poker superstars and local amateurs. It was also very flattering to have some locals recognize me for the first time from my IPT side event win. Flattering and advantageous. I feel that because the majority of Italian regulars knew what I was capable of, they made it harder on themselves to play optimally against me. I could go on, but I'm shrewd about this kind of info and would like to eventually get to the good stuff.

The days progressed and I would have the same routine: wake up, blast music, eat breakfast, and take as long as I wanted to get ready and mentally prepare myself. The ~13 minute walk to the casino was also a great start to the day and Vampy did it with me through day 4. Some days I ended with more relative chips than others, where the shorter ending stacks would be minor mental hurdles, but I was in bed by 1am every night and stayed on track. I also spent a very limited amount of time communicating and reading updates in social and industry media because I didn't want to stumble across any distractions. I definitely felt all the positive vibes people were sending through skimming texts and e-mails and that was enough to help carry me to the next level.




Before I knew it we were at the final table and with a good run of cards and awesome table-image we were down to three. It was definitely an interesting dynamic to play against Ruperte and Max since they had both previously bought pieces of my packages, and we had all hung out several times on the journey to the final table. The rail also consisted of many of our mutual friends, and the truth is, I lost focus. I initially played some decent-sized post-flop pots very well as I carried the momentum forward from accumulating chips quickly. Then I had a perfect opportunity to bust Max and somehow foolishly talked myself out of a call in a hand that haunted me for a while afterwards. I knew it was a mistake right away and my play deteriorated after that. It was a >300k error I will not make again, and I'm confident I will get another opportunity to redeem myself. I really wish I had someone more experienced to drag me aside and give me the pep talk I badly needed. Instead I was asked to do an interview during the only break I sustained 3-handed, and missed out on precious time to recollect myself and readjust to set up a win. I then made some preflop errors to Ruperte and was out before it hit me after talking him into calling me with a dominated hand.




I didn't realize how heartbroken I would be when I busted, because I actually felt on some subconscious levels I didn't even want to win. Crazy huh? Maybe I knew myself well enough and knew I couldn't handle the pressure just yet. I could also have a fair chance of never being able to meet future expectations if I set the bar so high so soon. Unfortunately I started thinking objectively about these things after I was out, when they were no longer immediately relevant.

I was still somewhat legitimized at the next level, and I no longer felt as if it was just everyone around me who was winning. Three-hundred-and-sixty-thousand Euros. The majority of it was not mine to keep, but I now have confirmation that I am capable of making this much money doing something I love. How lucky am I?! I went on a rollercoaster of self-reflection for several weeks. Swirled through a lot of "what now" tangents and had more than a couple of anxious and antsy days at home after Madrid.



The EPT Grand Final was memorable as well. Although tournament-wise I only second-tier cashed I couldn't complain since I thought I had awful table draws throughout and got so many table changes I felt my hands were cuffed, and yet I somehow still made the money. It was amazing to carry through a personal triumph to such an amazing city. Yes, the casino was far and we had to shuttle every day, but our hotel was right downtown by a bustlin' city square and there was an unlimited supply of culture and night life to absorb. I was also around Galen as he went into the final table of the High Roller being first in chips and ended up finishing in 7th after an interesting hand where his AA was outflopped by an OOP QQ after a single raise pre. He blamed himself profusely for stacking off in this situation but it wasn't his hand analysis that was brilliant, it was his thought-process when talking about his overwhelmingly human desire to legitimize himself. It didn't matter that he had a 2mm title under his belt, he was planning on going back to school and he believed this would be one of his last opportunities to prove he wasn't a one-hit-wonder. He genuinely felt like he blew it, and honesty spewed out. (He would go on to come second in the CoC freeroll and third at the WPT Championship the week after so I think he's OK now). Anyhow, the point is, after watching him suffer, it somehow made me feel better about my incoherent ambitions.

I'll figure it out. I just finished my first real WSOP and needless to say my results were not satisfying. I've also made some hefty career decisions since San Remo which at this point I'm not even completely sure of. But guess what? I had one of the best summer of my life. It wasn't that I partied hard or got a sick sponsorship deal. Rather, I learned that I could rely on people other than myself, and I was surrounded by not just some of the best poker players, but some of the most fun and authentic people anywhere. WSOP post to come!

Black Friday

Today some crazy precedents were set in the world of online poker. If you've been under a rock, the main founders of the top three sites that operate in the U.S. (PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute) are being charged by the U.S. government not just for acts under the UIGEA, but more seriously, for crimes involving bank fraud and money laundering. Arrests have been made and American players have been blocked from playing real money games on these sites. Their account balances have also been frozen, and there is general panic amongst the community, of which I am no exception. I am a firm believer in a diplomatic settlement between these companies and the government, and am hoping that his is simply a result of the government wanting to establish more control over regulation of the industry, and is making a power play to demonstrate their authority.

Although I am Canadian and our activities have not been frozen, I have spent some time recently discussing potential opportunities with some of these sites and now have no idea where anything stands. I will continue to be optimistic that after this blackout period the poker industry will come back stronger and more organized. A very idealistic portrait of this can be found in this blog.

You can read the actual government press release and summary of charges here.

For some background info, or, if you are a screenwriter looking for your next idea, you can check out the story of Daniel Tzvetkoff.


Today I played a half-ass session trying to take advantage of the overlay. Of course my attention was frantically divided as I waited for any news to appear in my feeds. I also finally got a chance to watch Jeopardy's IBM Watson episodes. I was cheering for Ken and Brad despite knowing the outcome, and snickered at the machine every time it got a question wrong in a silly way, or when it faked personality.

I am currently watching Party Poker's Big Game live stream. I was kindly invited to be on this show but after a lot of deliberation decided not to attend mainly for bankroll reasons. I probably could have sold the action for it, but I told myself I didn't have to jump on the first opportunity to be on TV. I like to be properly rolled when I play cash games because worrying about real figures leads to sub-optimal plays. I used to do a lot of that and always regret it afterwards for various reasons, even when I win. There was also a pretty long line-up to fit into 48 hours and I wasn't sure if it'd be worth it to go so out of my way for minimal exposure. Of course, I also didn't want to look stupid on TV. I hear it's really easy to do that and didn't want to launch my public "career" before I was ready. However, I think the interactive features are great and the stream and footage is in pretty good quality. As I watch some hands play out, I really wish I had gone despite all the logic against it because the game seems like a lot of fun! The audience gets to decide who is to be replaced, and the comments on the side panel can be pretty entertaining. A positive precedent for poker which I'm sure we'll see more of.

Fluctuat Nec Mergitur

This is my third reverse-chronological entry on my Deauville-Paris-Venice-Paris-Malta-Copenhagen trip. Again, it's very tl;dr because I suck at making concise and regular updates, and when I finally do get around to blogging I tend to regurgitate everything. Enjoy!

"It is tossed by the waves, does not sink" is the translation for the Latin Parisien motto, and pretty accurately describes my adventures in the city of light and effortless elegance. I have to begin by saying I am not proud I did not get to do all the touristy stuff I had on my check list. The closest I got to the Louvre was to the club across the street, and I kept the Musée d'Orsay hanging more than a few days in a row until we hastily left for Malta. What's more upsetting, however, is that I was simultaneously unable to take advantage of the weak fields in the events at the FPS. I often use this analogy when referring to these situations, but seriously, there were times when I felt like I was getting beat up by toddlers.

I was actually in Paris twice. The first time was with Noctus, Dylan, and Cal after a Deauville Sunday grind all-nighter. We took a train to Paris (which I bragged about paying a lower fare for since I was able to navigate the hella confusing French rail site, but then the real joke was ultimately on me after going on a pretty ugly run in Chinese), and stayed in a roomy 4 bed hotel in the centre of the city by Opera. Since they were all leaving the next morning, we decided to make the most of our time and visit the Eiffel Tower.


I usually have this Dallas Green mentality when travelling ("...but I'll never take any pictures/Cuz I know I'll just be right back" from the song "Coming Home"), but I really wished I had a real camera with me for the sight. Yes, it's still just a metal structure, but all that it stands for is pretty amazing, and it really did kick my often-jaded judgement's ass. We then had some mediocre touristy French food and pretty much all snap-passed out once we got back to the hotel. Strangely we also almost simultaneously woke up around midnight & hunger pangs led us to "Au Pied de Cochon", a 24-hour joint that specialized in pig's feet. I was a veteran to the part since the delicacy is actually renowned for its skin-rejuvenating properties in Asian food (so my mother makes plenty of this stuff at home), but the others predictably opted for safer fare. We actually ended up staying there for awhile as Noctus and Cal went tete a tete in the ol' science vs. religion debate, and that eventually led us to some fun philosophy 101 topics like free will and the existence of a soul. It must've been the inspiration of the Parisian air!

It was sad to see these guys leave, but I certainly didn't mind staying longer in Europe. I was also due for Venice in a few days for the WPT, but more on this mystical city in my next entry. My second time back in Paris I was lucky enough to be there at the same time as my dear friend Cathy who is definitely the classiest girl I know. I met her at my table itm on the second day of the WSOP Ladies' Event where I made a failed attempt to squeeze her open when she 4b shoved in my face. She has a fearless table presence and is a force to be reckoned with. In true Parisian style as a current resident, she is also effortlessly elegant, except she's not even French and actually is quite diverse in her opinions of Paris. She complains that they complain about everything when they have access to the best luxuries in the world, and she knows exactly what she wants and never makes excuses for herself or anyone around her...I wish I could be more like that!

Anyhow, it was amazing to have her and Arnaud as my personal guides around the city. Although my French skills are workable with Canadian mandatory French classes and since I'm always carrying around a pocket translation book like a noob, the city is much friendlier if the locals don't see you as an outsider. Cathy, like me, was always up for easy Asian food and it's refreshing to do girly things once in awhile. She took me to the finest malls where she knew the Chanel counter guy by name. We tried on clothes, shared decadent desserts, and talked about boys and poker of course. Joie de vivre! Arnaud entertained my historical curiosities by taking me to L'Arc de Triomphe, and showed me multi-faceted sides of the city through his knowledge of interesting neighbourhoods and the trendiest bars.




There was an afternoon when he took me for some delicious Italian food (the day before we left for Venice, no less...) in a chic neighbourhood that I unfortunately can't remember the name of at the moment. It was perhaps renowned for its boutiques, cobblestone paths, and great spots for people-watching, but we were warned immediately after sitting in the heated patio that there is also a problematic infestation of pick-pockets and small-time scammers, and that I should guard my purse carefully and put my Blackberry away. Sure enough, halfway into our meal the exact scam we were being warned about (a group of mafia-directed adolescents holding maps intending on asking suckers for directions while sneaking away valuables from under) came to our restaurant but was hastily shoo'd away by an employee. I had initially thought the petty crime frequency was just an exaggeration, but after the incident I applauded our attentiveness and felt quite good about myself for the rest of the meal, having so narrowly escaped what could have been a disastrous end to my Euro trip. Now for the good part. As we stroll off about 200 metres away talking about not running so hot in poker and preparing to hail a cab, I realized I had left my purse on my seat on the restaurant's patio. I wish I could measure the loss of colour in my face. You see, I try to be prepared to play cash games most days and depending on the hotel I am staying at I may keep a plethora of cash on me. My passport and 5 figures of Euros were in that purse, and the irony in this case is obvious. Luckily for me I run pretty good overall at life and Arnaud sprinted down the street to find it right where I left it.




My first encounter with Arnaud was at a 2ke side event at EPT Prague. I'm generally a pretty good shit disturber in a weak field, and when he came to the table it didn't take long for him to figure this out. He'd been relatively quiet and I 3b his EP open which he called. Board came KQTr and we both checked. Turn is a 9, he puts in a healthy bet and I jam just over pot effectively and he folds. Later on I would learn that he had 54s, which is a hand that will again play a key role at FPS. I would go on later to analyze some hhs with him at the notorious strip-club with midgets. He'd also be one of the first guys to convincingly argue that it's ok and still can be respectable to use feminine wiles for metagame at the table. Still trying to incorporate that into my game in a meaningful way, but nonetheless it's nice to have a selection of weapons to choose from.

Ok, onto FPS review. The tournament at Cercle Haussman was a huge success considering the starting days overlapped the WPT Paris event at the Aviation Club. I had originally planned to play the latter, but I was given top secret info regarding the softness of the FPS fields and it seemed like a no-brainer to go for better value. Although it was a much smaller buy-in of 2ke instead of WPT's 5k, the prize pool was significantly greater. Like all gambling joints in Paris, the casino was really a private club that required an annual membership fee. No complaints about the venue or the people; they were perhaps not friendly, but concerns were resolved with due diligence and they were conveniently located in a busy downtown area of the city.

Since it happened about two months ago I had to consult my tweets for frames of reference when blogging, and all I got was "50k @ 1st break no showdown yet :)" and "Out KK[less than]AQo last level of the day. Sigh. Rly. Gl @arnaudmattern wreck that table." Although I can't recover much concrete details, I do remember that most of the hands I played were either awesome due to thin value/sick reads, or vs. absurd hands/lines/opponents in one or all of these categories.

Two exceptionally interesting hands happened where I wasn't involved. On the very first hand of the day, Arnaud's friend was heads-up vs. a villain he had history with because there were no other players seated yet at their table. Starting stacks are 25k at 50/100 and he accidentally raised to 2050 instead of 250 due to a live color misclick. His opponent realized this and 3bets to 6k. Player 1 shoves for a full stack with QTs and player 2 snaps with K3 and wins. This set the tone for the tournament.

It was a tournament where it was exploitable to play unexploitably, and even as I knew this I managed to get into a bunch of flippy situations expecting them to be flips at worst, and not come out ahead. Despite not having made it past the first day, I had a lot of fun. The players who spoke any amount of English were friendly and engaging. My friend would also direct my attention to some flattering/hilarious posts about me on a French poker forum. I was really sad to go in the last level of the day since I had just transferred to Arnaud's left from a broken table. Admittedly I got some inside scoop on the table as I sat down: guy to my direct left was a spazzy but competent well-known French player with unlimited bankroll. Guy two seats to his left was a crushing solid high-stakes reg who ended up coming 2nd to Marvin. The rest were at various degrees on the ichthyoid scale. Excluding Arnaud, they had basically been pylons in the crossfire.


Here's where the second hand comes in. With given dynamics, Arnaud from lowjack opens for 1400 at 300/600/50 with a ~45k stack. I fold, guy with unlimited br 3bs to 3750 with ~25k. Basile Yaïche (high-stakes cash guy) with monster stack 4bs to 7800 from sb. Arnaud 5bs to 16200 and gets two folds. He then asks me to pick a card and I reveal the 4c. Awesome! He then jokes that it was to impress the lady and I oblige, admitting I am impressed. That made a really good Pokerstars blog entry.

So I came to the table with about 10bbs, doubled, lost min with 88 vs. QQ that somehow got to showdown, then lost 15bb in sb with KK in a standard spot vs. bb's AQ reshove aginst Arnaud's button open. I did wonder, however, what bb's lightest jam would be in this spot. If I remember correctly he was playing 25ish bigs eff since Arnaud had us both covered, and due to the obvious familiarity between Arnaud and I, villain must have assumed Arnaud is folding a shitload vs. me and I would/should shove close to 100%.

I wasn't too upset, however, because I was still in Paris and I thought there were a ton of juicy cash games to be played and a potential FPS high roller to look forward to pending my satellite win. However, the satellite plan was unsuccessful as I lost in the first level with T7s on a 47475 board in a pot where villain min. 3b from sb into 3 players. He barreled thrice and had 75. I looked stupid because I didn't even immediately realize he had won and was expecting my half of the pot.

There is definitely more to be said about French poker antics but I'll try to wrap this up and get to the juicier stuff. When Dom flew back to Europe from Aussie Millions we roomed together again right off Champs Elysses, the supposed most expensive street in the world. Our hotel internet connection was very temperamental and both Dom and I lost probably over 2k each in buy-ins throughout the trip due to unstable connections. Well, Dom was actually able to ship a nice win in a turbo despite being dc'd for a few min so he ran a lot better than I did in terms of when the internet decided to cut off. On the last Sunday we were there Dom was smart enough to prepare to grind at his German friend Alex Debus' hotel. I was stubborn and since the internet was fine all day, did not expect there to be any problems with it. I was wrong and halfway through some big tourneys I would have to take a cab to go meet up with them. The day ended up being redeemed by some meh cashes but I wouldn't be able to put up with the Euro schedule. I was totally power-napping during breaks and expected to take down the weekly HORSE but my stamina failed me. The next day we would hear that Alex played until the next afternoon and ended up shipping the 300 freezeout FTOPS for 300k+. That same night Marvin would win the FPS for something like 250ke and serenade the audience. The Germans were invading Paris again! It was great for me because we feasted on Chinese food after.

On one of our last night's in town we went to a swanky club called VIP across from the Louvre, where DJ Cut Killer was spinning that night. He was a friend of Elky's and we had a pretty nice booth with his entourage right in front of the stage. I'd also been pretty stressed from the previous week so I really let loose and had a blast with Cathy. This place had no shortage of eye candy, both from its go-go dancers and young model-types having a good time. The place is so over-the-top in cooler-than-thou factor that the ladies' room attendant is a black male monk. Yes, that dude is handing you towels, listening to you pee, and asking you if you need perfume. Not sure if that's the most zen place he could be.

Of course some other juicy stuff happened during my stay but I must leave some developments to the imagination. Venice is next :)

At Least I Got My Maltese Flag

Malta was the second last stop on my latest Euro trip and came after Paris and before Copenhagen. I was thrilled to be back in jacket-less weather for the first time since PCA! The island was warm and inviting in both climate and hospitality. The first thing I noticed at the airport, however, was the interesting dialect that was spoken - a fusion of Afro-Asiatic influences. I was amused that so many X's were used and giggled to myself while trying to pronounce various words.

During check-in at the boutique Hotel Juliani we were introduced to a refreshing and exotic beverage, a locally-made soft drink called Kinnie. It is made with bitter oranges and tastes like a hybrid between root beer and orange soda. I'm not really a pop drinker, but this stuff is legit. We even saw tourists taking back 24 packs of the stuff on the flight out of the country.

Anyhow after a quick nap and confirming the length of late-registration I quickly made my way over to the Casino Portomaso for a satellite to the main. The value was too great to be missed as anyone who has ever played an IPT will understand what I mean. The turbo didn't last long and I went home with one of six discounted seats. I also got a chance to shoot the shit with Claudio Pagano (no, he's not related to Luca), whom I played with throughout the IPT San Remo 1k event. He is quite the popular guy amongst the Italians, due to his always playful and friendly nature. Anywho, that night Claudio and his friends told me about this 24 hour joint on the island, which would be the spot for the nightly snack/drink ritual.

The next day would be the ladies event - a tournament I almost never sell action for and always skip off to with pretty high hopes but finish with my tail between my legs. I actually thought my luck was finally going to change near the end of this one - I had a quarter of the chips in play when we were 9-handed and 6 paid. Buuut I got ahead of myself and during dinner break I was peer-pressured to reg in the FTOPS 10-game with a lot of action bought. Yes, I was supposed to play this final table and a 1k mixed game event at the same time. WTF was I thinking?! It didn't seem so bad at the time, since the ladies event was a turbo and I'd be 1-tabling anyway, but it got super tricky when 1) the floor guy initially said I couldn't do that (then changed his mind for whatever reason) and 2) there was no connection from my new seat, so I had to run back and forth for a bit to another table. What a disaster. Long story short, I ended seeing about 20 hands total in the FTOPS and mis-read my all-in Badugi hand while in a live one, then busted the ladies event at the feature table without even cashing when this one lady (who was obviously maliciously making fun of me in Italian the whole time) decided to snap-call an all-in pot-size bet on the turn with J9o on a K97Tr board vs. my AA. I proceed to lose two more flips after the Q came and abruptly ended off the stage with empty pockets. Big sigh. At least this one camera guy on contract was kind and patient enough to interview me for some stuff he was shooting. It made me feel special but inadequate at the same time, since I have yet to win or even cash in a ladies event since WSOP last year and I've been playing my share.

Day 1 of the main was pretty awesome. I started off at a table sitting beside Marvin Rettenmaier and I think I rubbed off a bit of his run-good. He did say in Venice that if I taught him how to play mixed games he would teach me how to hit stuff. I ended the day top 5ish in chips for the two day 1s combined and felt pretty excited and eager to have an equally amazing day 2. I woke up early enough to have breakfast, get pumped, and pick out a decent outfit for the tables, since admittedly, this is part of the battle for a female player. As I'm in the shower, Dom pounds on my door and I wonder, "wtf, I haven't taken that long...", only to hear once I got out that we were getting kicked out of our very comfortable hotel. Apparently Dom thought he had booked for 4 nights when they were in fact completely booked for that final day so we had to check out asap. I had not anticipated booking, packing, cabbing, and checking-in to another hotel to be part of my Day 2 prep. Boy was I peeeeeeeeved. However once we got into our room at the Hilton I was in a much better mood. What an amazing view overlooking the flawless sky and rich navy blue water. There was even a full-moon that night which made the scene completely majestic and surreal. If I was still in my artsy phase I would've snap-painted a picture.


Ok, so I know everyone is just dying to hear more about my showing cards fiasco in the main. Well, maybe not since I feel like I'm beating a dead horse every time I talk about it, but nonetheless this entry would not be complete without a thorough analysis of the situation. Most of day 2 was smooth-sailing, until the last table I got transferred to nearish the bubble when I lose a massive multi-way pot on the flop with a set vs. flush draw. I rebuild a bit and then this hand happens: Seat 9, an old man who seems friendly but perhaps a little on the senile side, opens his hand on the river when his opponent is tanking on the turn to his AI donkbet on an AKQJ board. His hand is A4 & the floor comes over and his defense is that he heard his opponent say fold, and the other guy is obviously pissed because if he's tanking on that board he most definitely has A4 beat, but is now unable to call because the old man already showed his hand. I didn't actually hear anything from the guy but there were a bunch of reporters around as we were down to just a few tables and there's lots of Italian being spoken, so I couldn't be sure and was completely uninvolved.

Soooo this is my hand: same guy, who's overall very nitty but then does stuff like the A4 donk-shove example, opens, I flat with JTs from lp and it gets heads up. Flop comes JT2 gin he checks I bet 2/3 and he flats. Turn 2 and he has a psb behind. He check and I decided checking was the best option to induce hero calls and spazzes on the river, and control any over pairs he decided to take this line with. Note given stack sizes I am never folding, I started the hand with about twice his stack and averagish. River is a 4 brick and he snap-shoves into me. I am giggly/confused at the same time. Oh, I should probably also mention that Marvin had just come up behind me right before the hand started. On this river and because we are bubblish, I decided to take my time and flip over my hand in a playful (not slow-roll) way before I would say "call". It wasn't meant to be ill-natured, I really was rather amused and wanted to demonstrate this by adding some more character and plot to the already dramatic table, while showing Marvin behind me and giving the guy a chance to muck after I call. Basically in my head I thought I was being funny. You also have to understand that I'm used to cash games where flipping over your hand when completing the action is acceptable, so I didn't realize this was a big no-no especially after seat 9s previous hand. It wasn't the same scenario of course, but no one even mentioned that an exposed hand was dead - he scooped the whole pot! Anyhow, so right when I flipped over my hand, he started to flip over his. I quickly put my hand and yelled/signalled "stop", so he asked, "do you fold?" and I exclaimed "NO!". He then turned over his AK! LOL
So I announce that I call, but then he calls the floor over and we wait for a lengthy decision. The floor finally decided that I could have the pot in the middle but he would keep his remaining stack. I was also given my first poker penalty of a 1-round time-out. I was pretty tilted that the guy could get away with the same sort of shenanigans twice, but more so because I made such a stupid ridiculous mistake with chips in a tournament I should be taking more seriously. My brashness was at fault, and the drama was definitely self-inflicted. This fiasco cost me much more than his left-over chips. The actual bubble was super long - two and a half hours? - and I doubled up a shorty to became one myself, and no amount of shoving could get me back the stack I once had and put me in contention for good money again. If I had just standardly called he would've been out, the bubble would have busted earlier, and I would be in a good spot to go much deeper in that tournament. Sigh, at least I got my Malta flag with the min-cash. Apparently that's pretty prestigious.


Whew, got a little tilted at myself after typing that one again. Off to talk about some more shenanigans then. So Malta is also the place I met my first Scots, David "Harry Potter" Vamplew and Andrew "Some Guy" Ferguson. I knew the British had a special knack for being marathon drinkers, but these fellas don't mess around. Actually the first time I heard about them was when my roommate Dom drunk-texted me while he was still in Venice after his high-roller final table (a very prestigious 2-table sit-n-go), and let me know how much I'm missing out by leaving early - he just met two of the top-earning/only Scottish poker players and they're paying random Venetians to jump into the water for 200 euros a head. Sigh I wish I had extra bills lying around to wipe my ass with. The reputations that preceded them were pretty misleading. I mean, sure Some Guy can be a complete jackass at times (especially before he starts drinking), but overall his head and heart are in the right place (you should see how he talks about his girlfriend Claire), and Vampy is even more agreeable than the real Harry Potter.

Our last night in Malta was definitely not my classiest. To celebrate our various triumphs, we all decided to skip the FTOPS main and have some real fun. We first met up with the Scots at a fake Scottish karaoke bar. I guess they would know. We left soon after to a Texan-style steak place. I don't eat slabs of meat very often, but I have to admit this was the best steak I've ever eaten. Sadly, it would not stay in my stomach for long. After some grub we went to the bar district, "the intersection with all the red dots", as directed by our dependable friend Google. The street might have been a tad shady with their often open-concept hookah bars, strip joints, cops in street fights, and drunk people looking off various balconies, but we managed to pop into a bar with the cheapest bottles I'd ever seen - I think it was like 40e for a bottle of Absolut with 6 red bulls. Apparently there was too much blood in the washroom though so we had to leave. We propped over to a place a few blocks down with a guy in a horse head. They took pretty long to make our Mojitos but I enjoyed the music and watching the horse guy going nuts dancing and humping random things.


After this place closed down we bumped into this Swedish guy who was at my last table. He took a nice pot off me and told me to work on his name when I couldn't say it properly. I asked him to spell it but his Swedish accent sounded so exotic I couldn't understand the letters either, but apparently when I have some vodka in my system "Jaokim" isn't so tough anymore. We went back to the 24 hour place we went to most nights, and it was a hoot since we bumped into two other groups there, the super nice IPT dealers and floor people, as well as Claudio and his Italian friends, including Luca Moschitta, a well-mannered Pokerstars pro I played with at my second table of the day. Dom was already feeling loose enough to yell out, "HAHA, I took all your chips" to him as they walked in because hanging out with classy people is what I'm about. Needless to say I still thought the drinks were too weak and took the initiative to order some shots for everyone. I can only remember buying one round but apparently that was not the case. I really am not an alcoholic and can handle my liquor better than most. I enjoy it primarily as a social lube, but that night I hit a brick-wall drinking til 7 a.m. and found a true friend in Dom when he pulled my hair back as I was throwing up and didn't try to take advantage of me. The Swedes were lucky enough to go to the airport straight from the bar with their early flight, since heading to Copenhagen at noon was one of the most physically (and perhaps mentally) tedious things I've ever had to do. I continued to divulge some more pure vodka at the airport.

I actually would consider moving to Malta one day. It's quite the destination for expats - I met a very nice Swedish poker-playing lady, Anna. She was so supportive on my facebook during the main, I felt so warm and fuzzy to be rooted on by people I've just met, especially a woman, since many of them can be unnecessarily catty. I also met a Canadian expat whose girlfriend plays online, which was pretty cool. The weather there is also generally nice, the food is good at very reasonable prices, the people pleasant, there's poker, it's close to Italy, it's a good place to sail (something I intend on doing a lot of when the time is right), and it's tax-free!

Copenhagen - finally, a post!

My next blog entries will be in reverse chronological order with my last poker stop being described in this one. I will begin with my most current trip, which consisted of EPT Copenhagen, IPT Malta, FPS Paris, WPT Venice, EPT Deauville, and finish off with some stories from PCA. Think this makes it a little easier for both me and whomever is bored/strangely amused enough to read this rather than regurgitating everything in a tl;dr format.

Copenhagen was the last stop of my latest trip. Though we went from semi-tropical Malta to bundle-up weather again, the city of efficiency was inviting in its own way. The Scandinavians I encountered were beautiful but reserved. The majority of taxi drivers were rude beyond belief, and when I conjured up the courage to ask one nice chauffeur why this was when I was slightly intoxicated one night, he laughed and explained there is a local slogan which was, in his words, "Don't think you are anything, you are nothing, you are shit." Reminds me of a variation of communism...there was even a girl as I was buying hot dogs at the stand in our last drunken night who was swearing/yelling at us to speak Danish or go home. Despite these incidents, I still had an awesome time there with some awesome people.

The first hotel Dom and I stayed at was this shithole called Cabinn City. It was on the list of EPT hotels approved by pokerstars, so even though the pictures made the place look ridiculously tiny and the price was about half of any other listed place, we didn't think they'd stick us in a place where the toilet shares the same space as the shower. You could literally do both at the same time. I also had to sleep on a mattress on the floor since the room was literally the size of a small walk-in closet and we had to strategically plan ahead when either of us needed to maneuver around. Anyhow, we made it our first order of business to re-book at the casino hotel the minute they had vacancy. Our first night at the main hotel waterhole we met a really friendly bartender named Rhys. Throughout our stay he would be by far the most hospitable person I have met at any of our stops. There was an on-going joke about him looking like an older Jeff Madsen - Marvin even insisted on sticking a FTP badge on him and making him do a rapper-pose for the camera.

The actual poker was promising, but ultimately fruitless. Everyone anticipated Copenhagen to be the most difficult EPT stop, but I probably had a good table draw and found it to be easier than my Deauville table, though it probably had a lot to do with Isildur and Swedish pro Ramzi Jelassi being on my right. The very cute Isildur was standardly pretty active especially after antes kicked in, played a lot of big pots, getting coolered in some and hero called in others, maintaining a see-saw stack until he went out on a flush-draw in a 3bp. The only real hand we got tangled in was when I 3b him when we were both about 100bb deep and fired 2 nicely-sized barrels on a QJxxA then went check-check on river. Before I could table my hand to the rest of the table, he saw my A2s and quickly and playfully turned over his KTo and laughed, saying it would've been sick if it went check/check on a brick river and I'd win with A high.

I finished the day with a few hundred chips below average and took the initiative to not mingle too long at the waterhole to get a good night's sleep. The next day I was seated at another mediocre table where I slowly accumulated chips til I doubled up Scott Montgomery JJ < AQ for his last 20 or so bb. The hand I busted was to a youngish player who had been opening a lot in position and folded a few times to re-shove stacks. I didn't exactly have the perfect re-shove stack, but I estimated his cut-off opening range to be about 40-50%, and given the table dynamics, the tendencies of players behind, and the hands I had shown down in similar spots I felt like My T7s was good enough to make the play at the time. Perhaps I was getting a little ahead of myself since I'd been grinding that stack little by little all day before the big hit and would prefer to play with a bigger stack at the table I was at, when really I should have kept telling myself that you can't win a tournament on day 2. After sulking and re-examining and being criticized for my play, I found out my opponent was actually a pretty renowned online player, Busto_Soon. Definitely would not have taken that spot if I had known at the time, although it may not have mattered too much since he did have AQ.

Luckily for me there was free beer during the "football" games in the player's lounge. The beanbag chairs were also pretty comfy and perfect for melting into. Before the week was done I'd also win some money/meals betting on FIFA w/ Vampy vs. Marvin, connect 4 vs. any challenger (I lost one 2/3 match the whole trip getting cocky at my unbeatable record), and taking it back with a guitar hero jam session.

I went pretty deep but not deep enough in the 1k side event, finishing 14th when 10 got paid. At one point on Day 1 Joe Ebanks, Vampy, Some Guy, and I were at the same table. Not that much fun though since I was trying hard to maintain my game fase. It was unfortunate I didn't even cash because there were several stacks shorter than my average one when I busted, but it's kind of difficult folding AQ from c/o vs. button's AK with our chip counts. I quickly went to play in the ladies' event, and busted again with AQ vs. AK in a similar situation. I also had an interesting girl sit directly to my right for the first few levels. She was a "hostess" for various events that were being organized for poker players in town...some (Dom) would refer to these shindigs as hooker parties. Perhaps that's what they were, but she was a really nice girl and seemed pretty good at her job.

So on what I thought would be my last night Rhys/Jeff recommended a few bars to go to. We ended up at this pretty trendy artsy lounge that had vintage porn-inspired posters, "Friends" on TV, and random signage in different languages. The cocktails they made were also quite delicious (Blueberry Bitches had a handful of real blueberries & lychee), although it was pretty packed and took forever to get our drinks. I also had another fiasco with losing my phone, but Dom was kind enough to go back to the bar with me and I was also pretty lucky the bartenders found it and hadn't left yet by the time we got back. I was still pretty turned-off by hard booze after our last night in Malta, so I took it easy that night and unknowingly saved myself for the next day.

I woke up in the morning with my stuff all packed and ready to sweat Mr. John Eames aka Tony G's son. Yes, they look remarkably alike, not just in appearance but also in demeanor. I first met Eddy in Venice through Dom after he introduced us to this hidden restaurant with cheese bowls for your pasta and really delicious lobster linguine. He had gone really deep and though he didn't have many chips going into the final table of the main, he woke up with KK 3 times within the first 15 hands and became a force to be reckoned with. He was kind enough to offer to pay for my flight if I extended my stay for one more night just to party with them after his victory, and I couldn't say no anymore after he went on a tear. I first met the other Jon (Spinkles) the night I lost my first painful CCR. We ate at this pretty legit "contemporary" place at the top of our hotel and I remember the moment when I knew I adored everyone I was with. Being one of the clumsiest people you'll ever meet, I had accidentally spilled my flight of wine across the table during dinner, right into Jon's plate and lap! Instead of showing the slightest bit of annoyance, he quickly made a joke about his meat tasting better with wine anyway, and made sure I didn't feel as guilty as I did. What a sweetheart! He did get his revenge when he picked me last for CCR though.

Team Eames ended up 3rd pretty much due to two bad hands, QQ < AK and AK < AJ. Eddy was a little devastated but we were determined to show him a good time anyway. We had originally planned to go to a club the hostess introduced us to, but after waiting outside a bit and being told some of the guys weren't up to par with the dress-code, we decided to do some bar-hopping in the area. We stopped by Bar 7 again as our first stop for drinks/shots, walked a bit and found this legit 90s rockbar playing some of my favourites, then finally ended up at one of the other clubs Rhys/Jeff introduced us to. Our entrance into the place was pretty funny - we were all pretty buzzed by this time and after walking straight past the bouncer and being escorted back to the line to get carded, the dude spewed out some cliche anti-American insults at me (I explained that I was Canadian, but he insisted that we were the same - we all lived in white picket-fenced houses and my dad drove a Chrysler). Anywho I lol'd and was mildly offended/rowdy at the same time, but was ultimately more worried for Domse and some of the other guys who were underage. I thought there was gonna be trouble and wanted to stay really bad since the place looked fun with it's pop porno/dirty slogan (e.g. fuck my brains out) wallpaper, plus Rhys/Jeff had come to meet us there. Anywho, it ended up being pretty awesome because the bouncer was actually a really cool guy as he checked their IDs while insulting them with words, but letting them in without anyone being the wiser that they were young pups. So of course a round was needed to celebrate being let into the place, and Eddy was ambitious enough to order us all these gross ice tea cocktails which were really just pints of hard liquor. I successfully nursed that one til the end of the night.

By the end of another month in Europe I was pretty thrilled to go home for some comfort food and detox, preparing to come back stronger than ever. I really wished I had done better in my liveaments, but overall I think I played pretty well and am staying optimistic for my turn of run-good. In the meantime I plan to stay at home for another few weeks to put in more MTT hours online, spend quality time with fam, blog, and plan out my schedule until the end of WSOP.

Next up, IPT Malta!
Thanks for reading <3

Happy 2011! tl;dr 2010

2010 was an insane year of transitions. The tl;dr of my 365 days:

- Grinded a lot of RUSH and made a RUSH 6max $1/2 vid that never got launched (partially cause I was too cheap to buy the full-version of Camtasia when I didn't finish according to schedule). Paid for MTT coaching.
- Visited family in Tianjin, China, and rekindled with people I hadn't seen for 18+ years. Had so much fun (and good food) I wanted to permanently move to Beijing.
- First time in Macau: not a very long trip and went there originally to play cash, but went deep 2/2 in events so didn't have time. Grand Lisboa has sick rooms.
- Got everything hacked. Not fun. Mental game shot.
- Studied a ton for CFA exam, but not hard enough with poker (still) as a distraction.
- My first WSOP! Had own condo for a month and a half to grind cash. Rio was hit n miss but Venetian games were golden everyday. Won biggest pot of career of 1000bb at Caesar's. Played 2 WSOP events, 3 VDS, 1 Aria 8game, and 1 Caesar's main. Played a lot of 8-game online.
- Met a good man in a situation I wasn't ready for.
- Made a vid for the Big Game. After the telephone interview (happened in Barcelona) I was told that if I don't hear back from them til Jan it's a good thing...
- Took a leap of faith and became convinced playing liveaments was the way to go. Took a lot of reflection to make poker my #1 priority rather than just an auxiliary compromise.
- Fulfilled a dream of being a night/blood elf on Halloween. Costume was meh but it sure was fun reliving my ultimate nerd days.
- NAPT L.A: Rented place off Craigslist that didn't end up having furniture, final tabled (no cash) 8game to a good start, some sick beats in others (e.g. flop straight on 7h5h3, get it in 100+bb deep vs. Ah7x who goes perfect perfect for a boat.) Didn't feel significantly outmatched at any time which was a great enabler for my confidence. Sweated Van for 4th in the main in Compton, saw a Laker's game and went to Disneyland.
- EPT Barcelona: My first time in Europe! Won mega satty and cashed in a side, got owned on first hand played in the main (review to come). Found a reliable roommate for the first time in awhile. Visited Gaudi's spiritual/architectural gem; the inspiring/humbling/empowering experience will linger for a long time.
- IPT San Remo: lots of nomming of the pasta and pizza. First sense of loneliness on the road by myself. Binked mega satty and 1k side, got owned in main and ladies'. So far Italians in Italy are the friendliest people I have encountered.
- EPT Prague: Flew in right in time for 2nd level of the main and gave the eventual winner a lot of "positive vibes". Prague is as beautiful as someone once dear to me described, but it's even colder. Had lots of beef goulash and got hustled in Chinese. Went to a black metal bar and a strip club with midgets.
- Home for the holidays: was fortunate enough not to get stuck at an airport. It's nice hermitting with family and eating home food. All caught up on Dexter, Bones, Modern Family, House, and my sister. NYE party was kinda nuts and became another friendly reminder to pour my own drink and not leave them unattended.

I joined a new gym today and was so exhausted when I came home i fell asleep super early so I woke up in the middle of the night and realized this was one of the only times I can force myself to blog. It's just that on these trips I sometimes have to make an effort to be social all the time so when I finally have some time to myself I rarely feel like I'm in the mood to reflect publicly again. Hope that makes sense and doesn't get misunderstood. I apologize if this post isn't even a real post, but it will have to do for now. I don't want to head off to PCA and kick myself for not blogging again.

Happy New Years, 2011 is going to be grand...
Xuan Liu
Xuan Liu
Country: Canada
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