Category Archives: News

Xuan Liu on Love, Hate and Winging it : CalvinAyre.com

A recent interview with Lee Davy

Xuan Liu on Love, Hate and Winging it : CalvinAyre.com

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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.

Xuan Liu Easy Game Poker mini-doc

8min “Easy Game” mini-doc from PokerListings.com

Matt Showell and Alex Konyves from Pokerlistings followed me around Toronto for a few days to film this 8 min mini-documentary.

I had a great time through the entire process and think they captured my personality really well. Hope you’ll enjoy it too!

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

Xuan Liu WPT Poker Battle Puerto Rico 2013

Join me at Poker Battle in Puerto Rico this December!

Join me and the WPT Boot Camp team at Poker Battle this December for an unforgettable poker vacation at the Waldorf Astoria in Puerto Rico. Meet and learn poker from some of the best poker instructors while competing for over $100,000 in prizes!

Click below for more details.

Xuan Liu Poker Battle WPT Puerto Rico

A Female Poker Perspective for Lee Davy and Calvinayre.com

Xuan Liu is an influential member of the EPT Player Council and the perfect mind to be picked when it comes to all things female and poker.

via Xuan Liu, Female Poker Pro’s Perspective : CalvinAyre.com.

A FEMALE POKER PERSPECTIVE: XUAN LIU
AUGUST 19, 2013

Xuan Liu was born in Tian Jin, China before she moved to Canada at the age of five. She picked up the game of poker during her time at the University of Waterloo; which incidentally was at the same time a certain Chris Moneymaker was changing the landscape of the game of poker. Since turning her attention to it on a professional level she has earned over $1.4 million in live tournament earnings and over $300,000 online.

A Female Poker Perspective: Xuan Liu has adorned the cover of Poker Pro and BLUFF magazines, is an influential member of the European Poker Tour (EPT) Player Council and a member of the Season XI World Poker (WPT) Ones to Watch. The perfect mind to be picked when it comes to all things female and poker.

When you have to wear make up or behave in any way that may fall into the category of hyper-sexualisation. Do you think you have a choice, or do you believe this is just the way it has become for women in order to survive?

I think it’s fun and an aesthetical advantage that females have the option to choose whether they want to wear make up. We certainly have a choice in how we present ourselves and I would like to deject the perspective that women are victims in this debate.

The general direction of the female liberation movement is positive. We are gaining more opportunities in every industry and facet of society, and most women can just as easily choose not to subject themselves to hyper-sexualization as easily as they can feed into it. Yes, there is still many gaps and an abundance of sources that pressure women to struggle for attention in certain realms, but to paint a portrait of survival versus each other is insulting as it undermines our mental capacity to filter and decide for ourselves how we weigh our priorities and stimuli.

I don’t think I have ever felt pressured to sexualize myself in poker. When I wear makeup it could be for a plethora of reasons but never solely to succumb to some social pressure. There is nothing wrong with appreciating the aesthetics of a woman who takes care of herself physically. The problem occurs when people begin to diminute women to hollow entities when they do.

Do you feel under pressure to be someone you are not in order to fulfill your role in poker?

Certainly not. It’s much easier to withstand rejection rather than fill a role you are unsuitable for.

In terms of the standard male/female stereotypes, a lot of men believe they are superior in a lot of departments, and this belief stems from social conditioning. Have you ever felt the reverse of that as a woman?

There is certainly a wide range of pressures and social traditions that dictate how gender roles are best operated, but I think most of us in the audience this article is designed for are fortunate enough to have the option to choose whatever relationship dynamic suits us best.

I think the nurturing aspects of the female identity can sometimes be confused with submissiveness. It also isn’t a trait that can be so easily compartmentalized. I for one can be very compromising in some situations, while exceptionally Alpha in others.

Does it anger you that you cannot just wake up, brush your hair, slap on any old rag and head down to the poker tables?

It isn’t so much anger as it is an occasional mild annoyance. It may seem unfair that we have to wake up earlier, but it’s fun being a girl, getting ready to be a minority with equal opportunity at the tables, deciding what kind of energy or persona to play up at that day. It can also be therapeutic and almost meditative to use this time to reflect on elements of my game I intend to focus on and mentally prepare myself for the session ahead. Keep in mind I also play online poker in my underwear or sweats with day-old hair.

What’s your view of the poker world when it comes to the theory of hyper-sexualisation?

Poker is an innately volatile game with dramatic roots, so it’s not surprising that its more exciting and stimulating elements are played up in the culture. My favorite part about poker is still its democratic structure; the fact that a CEO, a librarian, and a janitor can come together at the tables and have theoretically equal opportunity to win. I can understand why females are given special attention when they sit. We are nicer to look at and we are the minority. It was a no-brainer for online sites to patch up pretty girls with little poker experience if that was the message they wanted to externalize, but who ended up ahead of the game? The companies and female players with solid fundamentals and a game plan. Women are not victims in this plot. We don’t have to wear low-cut tops or flirt to get folds if we don’t want. Sure, it can be more difficult earning the respect of your peers and balancing time spent between media or focusing on your game, but many more doors can be opened if you choose to work hard on your craft, just like in any other industry.

If I did not think that women had more opportunities in the poker industry I would not have risked so much to pursue this passion. I don’t care if the gentleman across the table assumes I am a gold-digging girlfriend because that paradigm is about him and his worldview, not me. The poker industry will always attract new comers with the likes of picture-perfect models and outspoken personalities, but there really is a general shift towards more meritocratic recognition. There will certainly be even more of an influx of well-rounded female players in the industry because the hyper-sexualization theory is not enough to undermine female poker ambitions.

Do you feel that the media are actually doing more harm than good when it comes to attracting new female poker players to the game when they focus on sexuality?

I think most women who are willing to consider taking up the game understand there are elements of luck, and therefore, an allure of uncertainty and excitement that can be projected as sexual. I don’t think most of these women will consider it more offensive than any other kind of product campaign but can understand how it can make it more intimidating to pick up the game. Luckily there are plenty of “real” female role models out there who are beginning to gain more recognition.

What is your view on the role that female attractiveness plays in poker, particularly when you have to work in front of a camera?

Looks will always be a factor when dealing with camera time, for both male and female candidates. It certainly helps to be attractive in front of an audience, but it’s probably even more important to be knowledgeable and engaging in the long run. I think camera presence is a skill that can be improved, and accept the fact that industry positions need well-rounded individuals who are comfortable in the spotlight.

“Living the Life”

Check out the trailer for “Living the Life”, an up-and-coming poker reality TV series starring the beautiful Trishelle Cannatella from “The Real World” & Amanda Kimmel from “Survivor”. It is produced by a Canadian company, Running Hooks Pictures, whose CEO is a fellow poker player, Josh Kimmel. I’m not in the trailer but I do make a cameo in the pilot 🙂