Category Archives: Poker

Poker as a female player

End of APPT Seoul Day 2

Quick recap of my day 2 at APPT Seoul. Wish me luck tomorrow!

Feelings

I am back in my Toronto, currently looking for another lease even though I was only at my last condo for ~3 months last year. I really do intend on spending more time at home if I can help it, especially with so many new live Canadian stops and Full Tilt coming back soon. The WSOP was a stressful time and there are definitely things I would do differently next year. It was my second real World Series and I earnestly tried to focus only on poker but there was no escape from the noise and pressure to mold my own identity in this world. I will always be true to my values and remain stubborn in many of ways, but with recognition comes an interesting set of responsibilities that isn’t always natural for my personality. I felt bad and still do because I put a lot of strain on my interpersonal relationships when I questioned people’s motives out of my own insecurities this past summer.

My dad and stepmom came to visit me and had a great time, as did my best friend Huyen and her Nick. It felt great to be able to show them the different facets of Vegas and I was proud to finally give them a glimpse into my lifestyle. I was also obnoxiously sick just from being in the dry desert and being exposed to violent AC so of course I felt guilty for the tournaments I had missed and stressed myself out even more trying to make up for it. Some sweet stuff did happen though. Simon, Dom and Vanessa won a bracelet, and I still do have that Stud 8 final table. I also got an Ipad and a sweet massage at the tables for my birthday.

It was a great WSOP for women and although I feel the glory from being a girl and am very happy for every one of these ladies, I think it’s also alright to admit I’m jealous. It’s not malicious, it just comes from my competitive drive since it makes me feel like I need to work harder and set the bar higher for myself. It’s really an exciting time for players of every demographic with the predicted “second renaissance” of poker and this is a trend that is here to stay.

WPT Parx and EPT Barcelona are next on my schedule. These are exciting times because I will be doing some footage for WPT’s “Ones to Watch” segment so I will do my best to give them some impressive results. I am also honoured to have been selected to be a member of the inaugural EPT Player’s Council. The first meeting is at EPT Barcelona which was also my very first EPT stop on my first trip to Europe in 2010. It’s a beautiful city and I can’t wait to stay by the beach at the Hotel Arts!

WSOP again

I’m here in Vegas during the WSOP and finally have a day off to update. I should have chronicled all my adventures in my last Europe trip to Vienna, Berlin, Dublin, and Monaco, but SCOOP immediately started when I returned home to Toronto and when I’m at home I want downtime!

The non-poker aspect of the Euro trip was amazing, and despite the poker aspect not being monetarily rewarding, it was a good trip for the development of my game and career. I stayed focused, ate well, worked out, rarely drank, and played my top game in tournaments and cash throughout the entire 5 weeks abroad, including the Party Poker Premier League Playoffs and some 100/200 mixed in Vienna.

After the Grand Finals I went to Aruba for a much needed getaway and met the talented WPT Boot Camp crew. I played a few random days of SCOOP in Toronto after that and was up a bit overall but mainly just went to the gym a ton and pigged out on home-cooking afterwards in preparation for a long summer in the desert. It’s now two weeks into the series and I feel like my efforts have already paid off and my chances of a bracelet are still very much alive. I have been playing and going deeper in the mixed events, including a final table in the $1500 Stud8. Coming that close to a bracelet only makes me want to work harder, especially since I made a silly error misreading my hand at the final table! Right before I lost an extra bb for misreading that I had a low on 7th in a crucial hand, I was telling my amazing rail how anxious and nervous I was. I have to learn how to function better under pressure. Anyone have any good advice for this? I feel like I can never play my A game when when people are paying attention, which is really depressing because all the money in tournament poker is made at the final table.

I’m staying with the charismatic Maridu at the coveted Panorama Towers. I’m rarely ever here with my long work hours but she keeps me optimistic and rightfully excited for what’s to come. In her words, nothing ever phases me. I am, however, looking forward to my dad and my stepmom visiting me in less than two weeks, as well as my best friend and her boyfriend in early July. It will be there first time travelling further than Niagara Falls to watch me play poker! It’s been a record-breaking WSOP for women, but there’s still plenty of hardware up for grabs so I won’t be slowing down any time soon.

Bring it on, 2012!

I enjoy blogging but life has been good to me and I’ve been busy. Since my last entry I’ve been to Hawaii, learned how to snowboard, final tabled PCA, celebrated the Dragon Lunar New Year at home, went to Whistler/Vancouver, and saw old friends at the Fallsview Poker Classic. Half an hour before New Years countdown I was still at my computer, grinding away hyper-turbos to make Supernova for the year. No, it’s not a significant milestone by any grinder standards but I spent much of 2011 on the road so it was an achievement for me. I was also very lucky to have some of my favourite people right behind me sacrifice half of their evening for my sake. It was a really good night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cannes

London, Cannes, San Remo pt. 3

London

I was excited to arrive in London town and back on the live tournament circuit. I had won a regular package and two ladies packages on PokerStars, and it was nice to see a lot of friends I had been out of touch with since WSOP. Despite only dabbling briefly in what the city has to offer I had a really good time. The weather was unusually nice for this time of year and it was evidenced by the fact that every free square foot of grass was being taken advantage of. There were lawn chairs set up on measly patches of grass in front of commercial buildings for grateful sunworshippers! I decided to join in and also spent an afternoon napping in the sun at Hyde Park in central London.St. James Park

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

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

We went out a few nights that week: once to celebrate Mel and Justin’s birthday at a high-end sushi joint, once to Joel Roubuchon’s L’Atelier, and finally to the PokerStars party at the impressive Kensington Rooftop Gardens. It started raining soon after I arrived so people on the patio double-fisted while huddling under the canopy together. There was a nice campy feel to it all, and the key themes for the night would be: Vampy wig, big fish little fish cardboard box, dim sum cab ride, throwing squishy balls.

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

Buckingham PalaceJoel Robuchon's L'AtelierLondon Eye

Cannes

If you had asked me a year ago if I could see myself strolling along the board walk in the French Riviera watching very rich people with tiny dogs window shop and get leathery tans I would tell you that was not on my bucket list. Today WSOPE Cannes is just another stop on my tournament circuit with the Mediterranean outside my balcony as if it existed solely to please me. I have yet to acquire a French flag on my Hendonmob, but I have no complaints basking in sunshine by day and wining and dining at night, acting as if this is what I have been made for.

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

Sunset in CannesHotel Majestic BarriereBoutique Apartment in Cannes
Cannes by dayBeach in CannesApartment in Cannes

Apartment in CannesApartment in CannesApartment in Cannes

Poker wise, I busted the 6max KK<66 against Devilfish, busted the 1k after playing a solid day and busting in the last level, and bubbled two mega-satties after a series of unfortunate events. The good thing about playing these was that I had the pleasure of finally meeting Hikaru Nakamura briefly at my table. We had chatted online after meeting him through mutual friends. I used to love chess when I was young and even have a medal from middle school city championships. Reading his blog and trying to keep up with the technical posts was amusing. Although there is significantly less money in chess, being at the top of his field allows him to compete worldwide, often with a sponsorship. The cultural difference is that chess is a lot more acceptable in the eyes of academics and the general public, so it was pretty fascinating reading about his search for validation with his parents.

There were also some sweet final table sweats. Arnaud unfortunately got sucked out pretty badly to final table bubble the main, but Max made a sick run. Maddog’s rail for the shootout finals was pretty awesome, we took turns buying bottles of fine wine to drink out of dentist cups in the front row. Dan was probably the most “spirited”. He kept demanding the announcer call Mike, ‘Maddog’ and eventually had a drinking accident from toasting too hard and cut his hands from the wine glass. Should’ve stuck to the dentist cups. He didn’t want to draw attention to it for fear that the security guard who had already given us several warnings, so he just sat there bloody hands on his lap. Amazing.

La Palme d'Or La Palme d'Or La Palme d'Or

WSOPE Cannes 2011

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

Poker Players in Cannes for WSOPE

Didn’t really go out too much at this stop as most nights were spent hanging out at the apartment or somewhere easy. Although I was unable to attend the official WSOPE party I’m pretty sure the night we had at the American Irish bar was way better. It was a paradise island of a place, you wouldn’t have realized you were in posh France from the atmosphere. There was live music and good vibes. Half the poker community made it out by the end of the night. Definitely the best night of the trip.

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

San Remo

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

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

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

We had Mare Blu or the Argentinian restaurant everyday in San Remo. The ravioli and lobster pasta were unparalleled so I gave in to a new gym membership back home. I prefer the sense of community in smaller tournament stops where there are only a couple of spots in town so everyone can gather together as opposed to the cliquey nature of bigger cities.

Something good poker-wise eventually happened this trip. After a day of drinking since early afternoon and playing 19 (a new variation of Chinese Poker), we decided playing and drinking at the “Win the Button” €330 event would be the natural progression to the day. I had the best position in the event, directly to Scott’s left to snap him off when his scotch kicked into high gear. I had a sweet stack early on thanks to him and finished 4th, continuing my streak of final tables in San Remo 🙂 The rail was awesome and rowdy, I felt like I was playing for a million rather than €16,000. Amongst it was Busto_Soon, who I met after I made an error shoving against during the main of EPT Copenhagen. I mention this because he reminds me of Rorschach, my favourite character from The Watchmen. Dylan was also there after ending the night as chipleader at his €2k final table. He finished third the next day after getting unlucky against a player who justified a call by saying it was his favourite hand.

Lobster PastaSan Remo Villa

The trip ended with another epic Stars party. Copious amounts of champagne was had which made last-minute packing and our 7am taxi even worse than it sounds. I missed my flight from London to Toronto after being stuck in a customs line despite being at the airport an hour and a half before departure time. Life leaks! It was better value to rebook a roundtrip flight so now I have a seat on a plane to London in September 2012.

I was relieved to be back home. I really do love my new apartment with the amazing view across from the CN Tower that gives me a light show every night. I get to hang out with friends who keep me grounded, eat relatively healthy food (minus local pub runs a few nights a week), work out regularly, and make money online with infinitely fewer expenses to worry about. This isn’t to say I don’t always have an electrifying time on poker trips. I hang out with brilliant people. I explore foreign cultures. I eat great food. I discover more about myself.

Kian and I Halloween 2011Poker with a view of CN Tower

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

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

Summer’s end in Toronto

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