Xuan Liu

Idealistic Poker Heroine

Year of the Horse Kicks Off

Happy New Year!

Nala meows you a Happy Year of the Horse!

Nala meows you a Happy Year of the Horse!

We’re already in month two of the Gregorian calendar and in the first week of the Year of the Wooden Horse for the Lunar calendar. I’m no expert on Chinese astrology, but my parents believe that this Horse will bring a thrilling year filled with opportunities that must be grabbed by the reigns. As someone born in the year of the Ox, my buddy Horsey is predicted to look out for me by galloping to my doorstep with favours while and dissolving my problems and difficult situations this year. Not a bad deal to receive a clean slate every twelve year cycle.

In December I was invited to Puerto Rico for WPT Boot Camp’s annual signature event as a guest instructor. It was my official first time teaching in a live setting and I enjoyed it much more than I expected to, probably because I was much better at it than expected to be. It was super rewarding learning to teach beginners and notice their progress, noticing their breakthroughs as the week progressed. I even agreed to show my cards after every pot I won in the daily tournaments, which created a lot of interesting hands and dynamics. I even ended up busting the main event of the camp in hilarious fashion. I ran a bluff against a woman who I had taken a similar line against and shown, only to have her tank-call me when she realized! But there was so much more to the trip than just poker training. It was an enriching experience listening to Jan Fisher and Linda Johnson talk about their days as pioneering women in the game, and I even got a few tips on how to be a better public speaker from the first lady. Being a guest on Nicky “Numbers” Brancato’s new radio show was also a highlight, as he is certainly one of the most talented and hardest working personalities in the game. I was certainly amidst an all-star cast of instructors, and some of my personal highlights of the trip were playing an animated game of shuffleboard against Todd Brunson’s team, getting some beginner golf tips from poker mindset coach Jared Tendler, and beating my good friend Scott Seiver in a friendly HU freezeout!

I was also lucky to have a few extra days after the students left to explore Puerto Rico and visit the semi-private island off the Waldorf-Astoria property. It was a perfect mini-getaway after an intense trip to China. I gathered some clips and put together this video of my daily journey to the Island.

The only downside of my trip was that I did not have the best Internet. Oddly enough, during this trip I was actually getting a turbo boost of publicity with a ton of messages linking to Asian articles about me and my poker successes. The mainstream media might be a little slow to catch up to this “news.” It was also slightly disheartening seeing myself plastered in Chinese headlines years after my last career highlights, but obviously it was still very flattering and a nice ego boost hearing about these features on an island thousands of miles away. Even CBC interviewed me about poker on the local morning show, “Our Toronto,” with a short reel on the 6 o’clock news! Think also, upcoming major Chinese fashion magazine photoshoot and talkshow invite. I know poker players know it’s a skill game, but doing mainstream publicity educates the majority and allows the average person to decide for themselves whether or not I’m a degenerate gambler who feeds off castrating men at the tables. You’re welcome.

Due to copyright laws I can’t embed the clip here, but here’s a link to the feature on the CBC site: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Toronto/Our+Toronto/ID/2432472283/

A nice shot my sister took of the CBC feature on her laptop

A nice shot my sister took of the CBC feature on her laptop

All this publicity is nice, but it’s also making me anxious to win something soon. Yes, my lifetime ROI is still pretty sweet and the actual main focus when doing these interviews for me is to draw awareness to the game, but I’d rather take a confidence boost in the form of a final table any day.

It can also be somewhat testing to explain to people that while yes, I have a nice big figure to my career winnings, I haven’t bought my parents a house yet because the amount I’ve actually kept is much more modest. What’s really worth focusing on is the incredible lifestyle and experiences being in the poker world has given me. My 2013 has been a turning point in my life as I’ve mentioned before, but this year I am determined to play more and crush. I’m taking the next few weeks to stay put and get all my paperwork in order so I can do just that. I also promise you I have no interest in just being a female poker celebrity; I thrive and am often my most authentic self at the poker tables.

Which brings us to the topic of self-improvement. I know it seems like it’s all the rage these days, and really, what’s wrong with that? The widespread access to information has had a truly democratic effect on the pursuit for a better life. Why would a healthy human adult not want to be the best possible version of themselves?

A few weeks ago we were invited to check out the Las Vegas Indoor Skydiving Center on the strip. Skydiving’s always been one of those activities I wanted to do when I was young, so I could be one of the first amongst the people I knew to say I’ve done it and prove how cool I am. Then I became a poker player and no longer needed validation in that department, so I never went out of my way to do it. I can’t attest to how “genuine” this experience was to the real thing, but it was a lot of fun and I did not fear for my life at any point.

I suppose fitness appeals to me the same way that World of Warcraft used to. It’s something that has a guaranteed return on investment. If I grind x hours in a dungeon or at the gym, I am guaranteed to earn y XP/muscle mass+fat burn. That’s very appealing when there can be so much uncertainty in the industry I’m in. Even if I’m having a bad day, feeling small or directionless, working out is one sure way I can to improve my life for the better, so I’ve actually begun to look forward to this one habit I can control. I am in the best shape of my life, and instead of feeling confused and embarrassed at the gym on my own, I’ve been drawing confidence and self-esteem from my physical discipline. I’m still a beginner in comparison to most gym rats, but I’m no longer afraid to ask questions and sweat like a monkey.

I mentioned in 2013 that I made a conscious decision to travel less than I did the previous years. I don’t know if I actually did {*counts on fingers* Bahamas (PCA), Korea (APPT), Monaco (EPT), Vegasx6, Costa Rica (Family vacation), New York (wedding), China (WPT), Montreal (WPT), Puerto Rico (WPT Boot Camp), Raleigh (holidays)}, but for the first time I’ve reached Star Alliance 35k Elite status. I was actually very close to 50k, but I realized too late that being on top of your air miles is important! There’s like, secret societies on the Internet (forums) with a ton of tips and tricks to make the most out of your reward plan. I recommend everyone, not just frequent fliers, to do a little homework on how to get max benefits out of the often confusing but valuable offers that are out there. I know I’ll be getting international upgrades this year and have enough for a round-trip fare to Asia just from collecting in 2013 alone!

I am currently house-sitting in the burbs of Toronto. I am with my twelve-year old cat whom I have neglected for most of those years, so it sure was sweet when she started sleeping in my bed. I also think I might also be addicted to snowboarding, which is great hobby to have since I’m actually in the North during a year of record snowfall. I had actually never been to a ski resort until two years ago, and am just starting to really enjoy myself instead of only having room to worry about not dying when I’m on a hill. Whistler was the first place I had ever left the bunny slope on, so I felt I was going to die a lot my few times out. There’s some great weekday deals in the area, so I’ve been pretty content bundled up and alone on he slope like the Michelin man with that -30 degree Celsius windchill in my face.

Let it snow!

Let it snow!

WPT Fallsview is coming to town in a few weeks. It’s a $5k now, but back in 2007 it was the first $10,000 tournament I’d ever played back when it was the North American Poker Championship. I was a local $5/5 grinder on probation from college who won a seat and chopped another by grinding SNGs. I used a seat, obv took 100% of myself (minus some small swaps), and realized whenever I was in a hand with anyone other than the local grinders I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I got to play with Vanessa Selbst, Kathy Leibert, met Barry Greenstein, John Juana, and was busted by Action Jeff Garza whose bald head would pop up to haunt and crush my dreams of glory for a long time afterwards. I’m a little better now, but have yet to cash in a tournament on home turf, so hopefully this will be the year!

Good luck and have fun out there.

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2 comments on “Year of the Horse Kicks Off

  1. wmmcrouse
    February 15, 2014

    Thanks for letting us in Xuan =] Best of luck this year in meeting your goals. We going to see you back on PS sometime? Be good to Nala. Cheers.

  2. Vishal Patel
    January 13, 2015

    Such a beautiful human, you are…

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This entry was posted on February 6, 2014 by in Blog, Events, News, Poker, Toronto, Travel, Videos.
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