Category Archives: Gaming

Gaming as a female poker player

Ourgame WPT China

I’m representing Ourgame at WPT China!

Super excited to be representing China’s leading social gaming company, Ourgame at WPT China this year. It would be an absolute dream to make a deep run in beautiful Sanya, Hainan. The video is in Mandarin Chinese but you can use the “closed caption” feature for subtitles.

Ourgame WPT China

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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 the standards at Bay 101 and the hospitality of the staff. 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 Floes, 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.

At Least I Got My Maltese Flag

Malta was the second last stop on my latest Euro trip. It came after Paris and before Copenhagen. I was thrilled to be back in jacket-ess 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 event. 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. That night Claudio and his friends told me about this 24 hour joint on the island, which would set a precedent as the spot to for every proceeding night.

The next day was 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 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 would be playing 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 changed his mind about me being allowed to multi-table, and 2) there was no Wifi 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 busting the ladies event at the feature table without even cashing when this one lady (who was 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 5th in chips and was excited and eager to have an equally amazing day 2. I woke up early enough to have breakfast, get pumped, and pick out an outfit for the tables (yes, 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 four nights and overlooked that they were completely booked for that final day, so we had to check out asap. I had not anticipated booking, packing, cabbing, and checking into another hotel to be part of my Day 2 prep. Boy was I peeeeeeeeved. 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 there was an interesting situation about me showing my cards in the main. Most of day two was smooth-sailing. I was transferred to a different table near the bubble when I lose a massive 3b 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 has A4 beat, but is now unable to call because the old man already showed his hand. I didn’t hear anything from the other guy but there were a bunch of reporters around as we were down to just a few tables and there was a lot of Italian being spoken. I couldn’t be sure and was otherwise uninvolved.

This is my hand: same guy, who’s overall very nitty (but then does stuff like the A4 donk-shove hand) opens, I flat with JTs from lp. Flop is JT2 gin. He checks, I bet 2/3, he flats with a pot-sized bet behind. Turn 2, he checks and I decided to check. Given stack sizes I am never folding if I check. I started the hand with about twice his stack and average in chips. River is a 4 and he snap-shoves into me. I am giggly/a little confused and flip over my hand in a playful (not slow-roll) way before I said call. It wasn’t meant to be ill-natured, I really was rather amused and wanted to demonstrate this by adding more character and plot to the already dramatic table and giving the guy an opportunity to muck after I call. I thought I was being fun. 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 the call again, but by this time the floor is called 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 one round timeout. You should understand that I’m used to cash games where flipping over your hand when completing the action is acceptable. I didn’t realize this was a big no-no, especially after the ruling in villain’s previous hand. It wasn’t the same scenario, but no one ever stated that an exposed hand was dead since he just got away with it! I was pretty tilted that he could pull the same sort of shenanigans twice, but more so because I took my eyes off the prize in a tournament I should be taking more seriously.

This fiasco cost me much more than his remaining chips. The actual bubble was super long – two and a half hours. 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 plainly 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. At least I got my Malta flag with the min-cash.

Whew, got a little tilted at myself after talking about that one again. For a change of topic, 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 two-table sit-n-go), and let me know how much I was missing out by leaving early – he had 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. I wish I had extra bills lying around to wipe my ass with. It was a good thing 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. We left soon after to a Texan-style steak house. I don’t eat slabs of meat very often, but this was probably the best slab of meat I’d ever eaten. Gracefully, it would not stay in my stomach for long. After food we went to the bar district, “the intersection with all the red dots”. The street might have been a tad shady with a ton of open-concept hookah bars, strip joints, cops in street fights, and drunk people looking off balconies. We managed to pop into a bar with the cheapest bottles I’d ever seen – it was a measly 40e for a bottle of Absolut with 6 red bulls. Unfortunately here was too much blood in the washroom so we had to leave. We hopped to a place a few blocks down with a guy in a horse head. The Mojitos took awhile to arrive but I enjoyed the music and watching the horse go 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 was so exotic I couldn’t understand the letters either. After getting some vodka in my system “Jaokim” isn’t so tough. We went back to the 24 hour place and had a hoot after bumping into two other groups there. The super friendly IPT staff and Claudio with his Italian friends including Luca Moschitta, a well-mannered PokerStars pro I played with at my second table of the day. Dom felt obligated 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. I only remember buying one round but somehow the night did not end until 7 a.m. You know they’re a good friend when they help hold your hair back. The Swedes were lucky enough to go to the airport straight from the bar with their early flight. Heading to Copenhagen at noon was one of the most difficult journeys of my life. I left a gross vodka puddle at the airport as a souvenir.

I 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 super supportive during the main, and I always feel  warm and fuzzy to be rooted on by people I’ve just met, especially women. Too 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 generally nice, the food is reasonably priced, the people pleasant, poker is legal, it’s close to Italy, it’s a great place to sail (something I intend on doing a lot of when the time is right), and it’s tax-free!

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!