Category Archives: Toronto

I Only Write on Leap Days

I actually wrote most of a blog post on my way home from Australia, but this finalized version looks almost nothing like the bizarre, poetic version I had in my head at that altitude. A lot of that one had to do with getting older, meditation, my relationship with my mom, and Cosmos, but this one makes way more sense as a first entry in such a long time.

I had an adventure-packed few months down under with lots of time spent on self-reflection and practicing the art of enjoying life in the moment. For a while the novelty of choosing a non-traditional career path had mostly worn off and was replaced by phases of uncertainty and self-doubt. The money I had made in poker seemed to have all been an illusion, and opportunities had become scarce, but somehow I continue to find myself with insurmountable gratitude for my life situation and all the doors that poker has opened.

When I was young I was driven and excitable with big aspirations. My family started with virtually nothing in a foreign country like many immigrants of the time, and I am so much of who I am today because of that internalized resiliency. When I first started making significant money from poker (for my investors) my main goal was to allow my dad to retire early from his manual labour job as soon as possible. I was thrown into a crazy world of high returns, high expenses, along with the lowest lows. I became filled with anxiousness that revolved around wanting to be successful by having the coolest experiences in the shortest amount of time, and being able to provide my family with experiences they never had. I made huge financial mistakes being overly optimistic about the game and many industry promises that I am still paying for today. Having said that, I’m also thankful for the eyeopening lessons that have forced me to look objectively and grow to be comfortable with who I am now. Today I hold myself to a very high standard with everything I do, and like to think that I no longer waste my time being agreeable, unconsciously hoping to be liked by as many people as possible. Like many females, I fought against impostor syndrome in many facets of my life, and I’m done not feeling like I’ll ever be good enough for the impossible expectations we face, both internal and external.

After making the tough decision to leave a rewarding three-year relationship and beginning to feel like I was stagnating professionally I started asking myself the hard questions again. I am now studying poker frequently and focusing my introspection on what I really want for my future, ignoring external pressures. Since doing so I’ve dyed my hair to suit my mood, have largely ignored what people could think about this and that, and had a solid 2015 with almost $200k in live cashes. 2016 is also off to a great start after a decent Aussie Millions and being drafted by the Montreal Nationals in the first season of Global Poker League, and in April I will be filming “Girl Got Game” with seven other fierce poker ladies. The upcoming weeks I will be home in Toronto preparing for my real estate exam to rebuild my roots here, getting started with various games on Twitch, and making myself available for coaching. All these things seem pretty cool for my ego, but they really are dwarfed by how content I feel inside. I’m also going to do a better job of not letting the media stuff get in the way of time that should be spent on actual progression and growth.

One last thought: I used to think the world was SO unfair, and have really enjoyed feeling like the mainstream has finally caught up! The equality debates are pretty heated now – feminism, racism, class, political correctness, and although I would love to jump into the ring for all these issues, I simply do not have the energy or see a lot of value in doing so in most formats. I used to defend the bullied, the passive, even those who were not present or didn’t want my input indiscriminately, but I have learned that it’s almost always hopeless and ill-advised to present rational arguments to radicals who don’t have critical thinking training. It can even be counterproductive if you inadvertently make them feel less intelligent in the process. We all have vastly different perceptions based on our unique experiences, and the opinions of some will only shift when they are ready. Ultimately we all just want to love freely and be loved in return, so be nice to each other.

 

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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!

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.

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.

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.

Happy 2011! tl;dr 2010

2010 was an insane year of transitions. The tl;dr of my 365 days:

– Grinded a lot of RUSH and made a RUSH 6max $1/2 vid that never got launched (partially because I was too cheap to buy the full-version of Camtasia when I didn’t finish according to schedule). Paid for MTT coaching.
– Visited family in Tianjin, China, and rekindled with people I hadn’t seen for 17+ years. Had so much fun (and good food) I thought about permanently moving to Beijing.
– First time in Macau: not a very long trip and went there originally to play cash, but went deep in 2/2 events so didn’t have time. Grand Lisboa has sick rooms.
– Got everything hacked. Not fun. Mental game shot.
– Studied a ton for CFA exam, but not hard enough with poker (still) as a distraction.
– My first WSOP! Had own condo for a month and a half to grind cash. Rio was hit and miss but Venetian games were golden everyday. Won biggest pot of career of 1000bb at Caesar’s. Played 2 WSOP events, 3 VDS, 1 Aria 8game, and 1 Caesar’s main. Played a lot of 8-game online.
– Met a good man in a situation I wasn’t ready for.
– Made a vid for the Big Game. After the telephone interview (happened in Barcelona) I was told that if I don’t hear back from them til Jan it was a good thing…
– Took a leap of faith and became convinced playing liveaments was the way to go. Took a lot of reflection to make poker my #1 priority rather than just an auxiliary compromise.
– Fulfilled a dream of being a night/blood elf on Halloween. Costume was meh but it sure was fun reliving my ultimate nerd days.
– NAPT L.A: Rented place off Craigslist that didn’t end up having furniture, final tabled (no cash) 8game to a good start, some sick beats in others (e.g. flop straight on 7h5h3, get it in 100+bb deep vs. Ah7x who goes perfect perfect for a boat.) Didn’t feel significantly outmatched at any time which was a great enabler for my confidence. Sweated Van for 4th in the main in Compton, saw a Laker’s game and went to Disneyland.
– EPT Barcelona: My first time in Europe! Won mega satty and cashed in a side, got owned on first hand played in the main (review to come). Found a reliable roommate for the first time in awhile. Visited Gaudi’s spiritual/architectural gem; the inspiring/humbling/empowering experience will linger for a long time.
– IPT San Remo: lots of nomming of the pasta and pizza. First sense of loneliness on the road by myself. Binked mega satty and 1k side, got owned in main and ladies’. So far Italians in Italy are the friendliest people I have encountered.
– EPT Prague: Flew in right in time for 2nd level of the main and gave the eventual winner a lot of “positive vibes”. Prague is as beautiful as someone once dear to me described, but it’s even colder. Had lots of beef goulash and got hustled in Chinese. Went to a black metal bar and a strip club with midgets.
– Home for the holidays: was fortunate enough not to get stuck at an airport. It’s nice hermitting with family and eating home food. All caught up on Dexter, Bones, Modern Family, House, and my sister. NYE party was kinda nuts and became another friendly reminder to pour my own drink and not leave them unattended.

I joined a new gym today and was so exhausted when I came home i fell asleep super early so I woke up in the middle of the night and realized this was one of the only times I can force myself to blog. It’s just that on these trips I sometimes have to make an effort to be social all the time so when I finally have some time to myself I rarely feel like I’m in the mood to reflect publicly again. Hope that makes sense and doesn’t get misunderstood. I apologize if this post isn’t even a real post, but it will have to do for now. I don’t want to head off to PCA and kick myself for not blogging again.

Happy New Years, 2011 is going to be grand…

Redux

Aight, I’m back home and have done a “visibility” makeover. I’ve changed my twitter and my blog url to something easily recognizable, I’m beginning to lay a concrete plan for my progress, I want to blog more regularly, and I’m still trying to get a rakeback account under my name so I don’t have to be so secretive all the time. Yes, I still value my privacy, but I think it’s just good business to not be such a prude anymore.

My last stretch of the WSOP was eventful but not as profitable as I would have liked. After my last post, I was able to take down the inaugural Aria 8-game mixed event. It wasn’t a huge cash, but it was like my second time playing mixed live so I was more than happy to beat the field. I doubled up in the first level during PLO when my top set QQ34ss held vs. a flopped nut wrap+fd on QT2fd. Got c/r potted on flop and money went in on turn with my binked flush redraw. Things were cruising more or less after that. I felt that theses mixed game players generally had limit poker backgrounds, so I steadily gained chips through the big bet games where players lacked imagination. At the final table I had some decent luck in razz to knock out a few players, and heads up I declined a chop with 2:1 in chips vs. a Russian Stud Champion.

As I was trying to qualify for the WSOP main I got the worst food poisoning of my life. We ordered Thai and I threw up everything I had eaten for the past two days 😦 It was not a pretty, and my stomach was so weak I couldn’t even handle water. My main event dreams were shattered, but perhaps it’s a good thing as it’s probably best from a bankroll perspective to not to compete in another $10,000 event until I’m more seasoned.

My mindset was pretty crushed after the sickness, and I extended my trip to desperately try to compensate for the lost time and opportunity. Although I didn’t make money my last last week, I don’t regret it at all because other good things can and did happen in Vegas.

Anyhow, since I’ve been back I’ve put in five live sessions back at Fallsview. I really did miss this place, but never really found legit reason to go back. Now that I’m not playing online so much and have been re-inspired with live cash, I look forward to taking the degen shuttle outside my condo to work on my craft. The hourly isn’t as good as RUSH during its peak, but I have yet to book a losing session since I’ve been back and it’s always nice to play with old friends. Even though the 5/10 has a maximum of two tables going on at any given time, the game’s never too bad and it’s just a matter of deciding whether the 2/5 is more profitable.

CPT may also be in the works. My sister is going to college in a week so I won’t be able to make it for the ladies event, but I have a good feeling about this. The CPT will be getting decent coverage and it seems as if it will draw a good crowd. This means great cash games for me.

Anticipating good things coming with hard work and focus; stay tuned!