Category Archives: Food

culinary adventures

Summer’s end in Toronto

A bit more than halfway through my first WCOOP. Disappointed with my results thus far but still optimistic with eight 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!

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 I haven’t spent that much time across the pond this year, 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.

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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 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 in a very foreign city for the week. Chopping a 1ke side event was nice, as it was my first legit accomplishment since my tournament stint. The poker on my second trip in April continued where it left off, but everything else was the opposite.

Day 2

I stayed with Team Noctus for the first night at a standard Stars hotel before my luggage and my Euro friends arrived. I was stuck wearing the same clothes for three days straight, including to the Pokerstars Party! It worked out that way because I flew with those clothes, arrived at night after the local shops were closed, and was occupied until the next evening when I finally had time to buy a new outfit. Then I decided to be a trooper and saved it for 1A the next day because I was still uncertain when my luggage would find me. Again not my classiest stretch, but after the amazing poker that ensued the superstitious Asian in me sometimes 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 since I was lucky enough to land 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. I felt like everything was set up for optimal performance.

Hilarity ensued when we left for a scheduled noon start time without realizing we had locked Vampy inside the giant villa! We assumed he left early since we hadn’t seen him in awhile until he called us to be let out.  We RPSd to see who would go back to grab him, but luckily the tournament started three hours late anyhow so no one missed a hand.

The tournament room had great energy off the bat and it was an impressive mix of players. 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 a lot of the Italian regulars knew what I was capable of, they made it harder on themselves to play optimally against me. 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 made for a great start to the day and Vampy did it with me through day 4. My daily finishing stacks fluctuated each day against the field, with the shorter ones being larger mental hurdles and the larger stacks making me feel invincible, 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 risk exposure to anything that may be distracting. I was certainly still able to feel all the positive vibes people were sending through skimming texts and e-mails, which really helped me push harder in the last stretch.

Final Table 

 

Before I knew it we were at the final table and with a good run of cards and an awesome table image. Then we were down to three. It was 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 endured 3-handed, and I missed out on precious time to recollect myself and readjust to set up a win. I made some preflop errors to Ruperte and was out before it hit me after talking him into calling me with a dominated hand.

Putting chips into pots

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.

3rd Place

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 my reads were cuffed, and yet I somehow still made the money. It was amazing to carry through a personal triumph to such an amazing city. 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 spazzed 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.

Celebrating

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.

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. 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 still unable to take advantage of the weak fields at the FPS events. 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 all-nighter grind. We took a train to Paris and I bragged about paying a lower fare than the rest with my skill to navigate the confusing French rail site until I went on an ugly run in Chinese. We 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 this time. Yes, it’s still just a metal structure, but all that it stands for is pretty alluring. We had some mediocre French tourist food after and pretty much all snap-passed out once we got back to the hotel. Strangely we also all woke up simultaneously around midnight & hunger pangs led us to “Au Pied de Cochon”, a 24-hour joint that specialized in pig’s feet. I was very familiar with the part since the delicacy is actually renowned for its skin-rejuvenating properties in Asian culture. My mother makes plenty of this stuff at home, but the others opted for safer fare. We actually ended up staying there for awhile as Noctus and Cal went tete a tete in a classic science vs. religion debate. That eventually led us to some more fun topics like free will and the existence of the soul. It must’ve been 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 in Paris I was lucky enough to be there at the same time as my friend Cathy, who is certainly 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 with her 4b shove in my face. She has a fearless table presence and is a force to be reckoned with. She is also effortlessly elegant even though she is not even French and actually is quite diverse in her opinions of Paris. She complains that Parisians complain about everything when they have the best luxuries in the world, and she never makes excuses for herself or anyone around her. I wish I could be more like that!

It was a privilege to have her and Arnaud as my personal guides around the city. Although my French skills are workable with Canadian core French education, 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 nice to do girly things once in awhile. She took me to the finest malls where she knew the Chanel salespeople by name. We tried on clothes, shared decadent desserts, and talked about boys and poker. Joie de vivre! Arnaud did his part and entertained my historical curiosities by taking me to L’Arc de Triomphe, and showing me multi-faceted sides of the city through his familiarity with interesting neighbourhoods and trendy bars. One afternoon he took me out for some delicious Italian food (the day before we left for Venice, obv) in a tres chic neighbourhood. It was renowned for its boutiques, cobblestone paths, and great spots for people-watching, but we were warned immediately after sitting on the heated patio that there is also aninfestation 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 underneath) came to our restaurant and 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 our fortune for having so narrowly escaped what could have been a disastrous stall 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 realize I had forgotten my purse at 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’m staying at I may keep a bundle of cash on me. My passport and five figures of Euros were in that purse, and the irony in this case is understated. Luckily for me I run pretty good 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 to find the fold 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 a strip-club with midgets. He would also be one of the first guys to convincingly argue that it’s ok and can be respectable to use feminine wiles for metagame at the table. I’m still trying to incorporate that into my game in a meaningful way since 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 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 actually a private club that required an annual membership fee. I have no complaints about the venue or the people. They were not necessarily 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 bigger pots were either awesome due to thin value/sick reads, or vs. absurd hands/lines/opponents.

Two absurd 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 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 field 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 were all pretty much pylons.

Here’s where the second hand comes in. With above 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 animatedly 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 against 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 pretty wide.

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 as well as a potential FPS high roller to look forward to pending my satellite win. The satellite plan was unsuccessful after losing with T7s on 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 at a hotel right off Champs Elysses, “the 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 our last Sunday there Dom was smart enough to prepare to grind at his German friend Alex Debus’ hotel. I was stubborn and decided that since the Internet was fine all day there shouldn’t be any problems with it in the evening. I was wrong and halfway through some big tourneys I was forced to take a cab to meet up with them. The day was redeemed by some meh cashes but I was tortured by the Euro tournament schedule. I was power-napping during breaks and expected to take down the weekly HORSE until my stamina failed me and I fell asleep at the final table! 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. He was a friend of Elky’s and we had a pretty nice booth with his entourage in front of the stage. I’d was 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 between 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.

Venice is next!

Copenhagen

EPT Copenhagen

My next blog entries will be in reverse chronological order with my last poker stop being summarized 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 at once.

Copenhagen was the last stop of my latest trip. I went from semi-tropical Malta to bundle-up weather again, but the efficiency of the city was inviting in its own way. The Scandinavians I encountered were beautiful but reserved. The majority of taxi drivers had been incredibly rude, and when I conjured up the courage to ask one nice chauffeur why this was 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.” It reminded me of a rather cynical version of communism. There was even a girl at the hot dog stand in our last drunken night who was swearing/yelling at us to speak Danish or go home. Despite these experiences, I 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 rebook 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, even though I had Isildur and Swedish pro Ramzi Jelassi being on my right. The very cute Isildur was unsurprisingly very active especially after antes kicked in, played a lot of big pots, get 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 in this huge pot.

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 20bb. 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 was wide enough to rejam with T7s. I definitely got 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. I certainly would not have taken that spot if I had known at the time, although he did have AQ.

Luckily for me there was free beer during the “football” games in the player’s lounge. The beanbag chairs were 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), and brought back some good times with a guitar hero 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 cash because there were several stacks 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 some interesting conversations with a girl sitting directly to my right. 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. She was a really nice girl.

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 posters, “Friends” on TV, and random signage in different languages. The cocktails were delicious (Blueberry Bitches had a handful of real blueberries & lychee) despite it taking an eternity to get our drinks. I also had another close-call with losing my phone, but Dom was kind enough to go back to the bar with me and I was pretty lucky the bartenders found it and hadn’t left yet by the time we got back. I was still turned off by hard booze after our last night in Malta so I took it easy that night and unknowingly saved myself for the day after.

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 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 restaurant 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 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 terrible about the situation. 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 became offended/rowdy, but was more concerned that Dom and some of the other guys would be denied for being underage. I thought there was going to be trouble and wanted to stay badly since the place looked fun, plus Rhys/Jeff had come to meet us there. 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 still letting them in without drawing any attention to the fact that they were young pups. We celebrated Eddy’s finish with rounds of these gross ice tea cocktails which were really just pints of hard liquor. I successfully got away with nursing just one for the entire night.

By the end of another month in Europe I was pretty thrilled to go home for some comfort food and detox. I really wished I had done better in my liveaments, but overall I think I played 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!

Beijing huan ying ni (Welcome to Beijing)

So I’ve been in China for about 4 days now and I’m loving every minute. Unforunately I can’t upload any pics from my BB, but my dad and stepmom have arrived with a new camera so I’m sure there’ll be new ones coming soon.

The tl;dr version is basically having great food, buying awesome affordable gear, and indulging in a really happening vibe in Beijing. A friend from school was kind enough to take me out to the party scene and I have to admit I am seriously considering moving out here. Really, to make US$ while having minimal expenses along with world-class food and entertainment options really can’t be beat.

The flight was a drag with United, and taking the airport express to save 75Y (~$17) might not have been the best option for my first time alone in the city (I’m working really hard to beoome a life nit), but I got there with everything intact and immediately fell in love with my boutique hotel, esp. since they upgraded me to a suite for my first night. I had a sick view since the hotel was mere metres from the east gate of the Forbidden City, and had all the luxuries I could wish for, especially since I had started coming down with a cold. I spent some time figuring out how to get my phone to work with a Chinese SIM (I kept getting weird cryptic messages since my BB doesn’t support mandarin), and eventually gave up trying to contact my friend and went downstairs to eat instead. My dinner was amazing and comforted my cold symptoms, and the only complaint I have was them bringing me a serving of a specialty green tea (though it was delicious), when I had confirmed my request for basic complimentary tea. I mean, I suppose I could give them the benefit of the doubt for not hearing me properly, but chances are good that they are aware I won’t be able to say no after the meal and 25Y isn’t much for a foreigner anyway (yes, even though I look Chinese, speak Chinese, and act it for the most part, they say it’s obvious – something about my “demeanor”). So on my first night I had tomato and egg noodles (homely fave), hot and sour soup, some marinated jellyfish and cucumber, and 2 servings of tea that was worth more than half the meal itself. The dining room had a pleasant atmosphere and the service for the most part was very inviting. In addition, I was very satisfied to go up to my room and draw a long bath while watching Forrest Gump on HBO and sleeping at a reasonable hour I was not accustomed to.

The second day was just as awesome in a totally different sense. I shopped and haggled til I dropped, bought a plethora of goodies for amazing prices (even though I still got ripped off a lot compared to if I were local), and had two pleasant meals outside. The two malls I went to were pretty touristy, but I didn’t care as there was a huge selection and the items were all much better quality than you’d expect. You really don’t realize how many foreigners are in the city til you come to one of these, and the young shop girls able to bargain in 3-4 languages will let you know. The first meal was after the shopping, which is highly unusal because I am usually very cranky and unfunctional when I don’t have food when I wake up, but I was simply too eager to shop and felt like I didn’t have time to lol. I found a small bunch of street vendors in an alleyway off the road. There were exotic skewers, buns and dumplings of all kinds, and all the customers were local, so it had to be good. I ended up ordering a plate of goodies at 1Y (~0.15) per item, costing me a grand total of 5Y for an a la carte meal cooked in front of you. After going back to the hotel to relax for a bit and go through my purchases with glee, I made plans and took a quick nap before I went across the street to the famous Beijing night food market and had a bowl of specialty soup that lists for 30Y, that I paid 20Y for, but probably could be sold for 5Y to a local. It was divine, and the ingredients really were authentically nourishing – pig skin, shark fin, chicken, fancy herbs and mushrooms, quail eggs. Along with a local favourite, lamb skewers, it was another divine meal.

So my friend met up with me pretty late as he had a business meeting in Tianjin, but nonetheless he was a great sport and took me out exhaustedly two nights in a row. My first Beijing nightlife experience was at Xiu at the Park Hyatt, a trendy upscale lounge/bar catering mostly towards foreigners and hot locals. I hadn’t waited in line for a club for a long time, but this one was definitely worth it. There was an extensive live band that played very current club jams, and the vibe in general was very energetic and enticing. The drink prices were standard for Western bars, but when you see a round costing 350Y when you just bought a year’s worth of accessories for less, it’s kind of a reality check of sorts. But hey, let the foreigners have their status with their drinks costing a month’s avg salary – the city’s not complaining. I especially felt classy when my friend ordered a round of shots and having forgotten that I was sick and couldn’t breath properly, I basically choked/poured the shot onto my face -.- Anyhow, I decided to stick wtih wine for the rest of the night.

The next day was sort of a write-off as you might expect. I attempted to play poker but realized the mere sight of the pixels on my screen sent my head swirling, so I nursed my hangover until I was ready to do it all over again. I had also run out of RMB (I thought I was responsible enough to make what I had last 3 days), and by the time I was ready to step outside the bank was already closed. Anyhow my friend took me out for Yunnan hotpot with fabulous broth. It was a pleasant surprise that I had already started feeling much better, probably between the soups and the alcohol killing the cold germs in my system (ha!). Then we stopped by a lounge in another trendy boutique hotel called the Opposite House, a place I considered staying in before I remembered I’m supposed to be a nit grinder for awhile. Oh, did I mention there is NO LAST CALL? win!?… I’m not sure yet. Well then around 2 we went to a pretty local club called Coco Banana and had decent bottle service there with some of his friends who were all foreigners as well. It was a very different scene from Xiu (this place still had squatting toilets ><), but the vibe was still good and still way better than anything in T.o. imo.

I am writing this at the end of my 4th day, where I am now in Tianjin, reunited with my dad’s side of the family. This morning I was approached by a poker friend online who needed my help. He’s a tournament player trying to SS Rush, and I was glad to be useful and sent him my almost-finished basic strat video (I just have to blur out my SN in every frame and edit some minor parts, though I don’t think I’ll ever be truly satisfied since it’s my first video project). You can see there’s not gonna be much poker strategy on this blog, with my primary focus being on tl;dr trip reports and rantings related to the game, but I highly recommend any decent player to pick up the very profitable Rush on FTP. I may post the vid here on this blog soonish.

I went back to the clubbing district (Sanlitun), had a brunchy meal at a fusion Chinese restaurant and roamed around The Village til it was time for another city. I then went back to the airport to pick up my parents and I would just like to make a quick comment about how incredibly blessed I am. I clumsily left my new LV purse with EVERYTHING – passport, RMB, CDN, US, credit cards, etc. etc. in the washroom stall. Realizing 5 minutes later, I ran back to the restroom, and was completely fortunate that the washroom attendants were honest and valued being recognized with merit in their jobs rather than years (…a lifetime?) worth of salary. They asked me to fill out a claim/comment form, and insisted that I note that nothing was missing from my bag and to praise their integrity in the incident because this will bring them great honour at their next meeting with their supervisors. Wow.

Anyhow my 3 cousins who I haven’t seen for 17+ years picked me up by approaching me and asking if I was who they thought I was. It was a fine reunion that made me really fuzzy inside. We waited awhile for my dad to arrive and headed back to my birthplace, Tianjin. The journey was an intense two hours because the drivers are all crazy. No one checks their blindspots, and it’s all a huge cutthroat race to them. It was also a hoot when my cousin had to stop about half a dozen times on the side of the highway as cars were zooming inches from him to manually wipe snow off the windshield since his wipers were broken.

So I’m here on my cousin’s desktop since her internet isn’t set up on my laptop, but soon I will have wireless here and I can play some pokerz to not feel completely unproductive. I am staying at my eldest uncle’s house, who has 3 lovable dogs. I have already realized that I have a lot more in common with my cousins than I expected. I’m very exhausted atm and probably should’ve done an even briefer summary to be prepared for the festivities tomorrow, but I’m glad I expended the energy.