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

Xuan Liu Costa Rica

Family Vacation to Costa Rica

After WSOP my mom, stepdad, sister and I decided to go on family vacation. I personally just wanted to stay put for a few weeks having just been in Vegas for almost two months and Monaco and Seoul before that, but it was true that our family didn’t spend a lot of “quality” time together and it ended up being one of the best trips we’ve ever had. I’m going to be honest and say that I chose Costa Rica for my own selfish reasons. My lease had just expired in Toronto and my boyfriend and I were considering trying out somewhere warmer for the winter, and Costa Rica was up there on the shortlist.

I had just as much fun researching on where to stay and which beaches to visit as I did while I was actually out for the week. I decided on Guanacaste, the Northwestern area of the country that’s also the sparsest and known for its world-class beaches. I always feel a little weird about going to a small country as a tourist, not knowing the language and reaping the benefits of their land and culture. The people did seem happy and generally unfazed by the foreigners, but I think I would have certainly hesitated before I shared my personal paradise with the world.

We stayed at a beautiful villa steps from the beach and within a half hour drive to about a dozen other gorgeous beaches. We went on hikes through rainforests and visited two different volcanoes, one being the Rincon de la Vieja, literally translated as “The Old Woman’s Corner,” named after an allegory about a girl who became a recluse living on the mountain when her lover was thrown into the crater by her father. What a brilliant way to scare your daughters into obedience! We saw a boy and his dog herding their cattle on the beach and enjoyed tropical treats from the local fruit stand named “Tourist Trap” every day. Other highlights included horseback riding, waterfalls, scenic drives, natural mud masks, being ambushed by butterflies, watching locals teach expats how to surf during low-tide, and frolicking beneath some of the best sunsets possible.

Pura Vida!

Journey Through Zion

Zion West Rim

It was a fine decision to go to Zion National Park after the WSOP. Even though I’ve always loved camping, fishing, and hiking growing up, as a city girl I didn’t have much experience other than the occasional family outing and the basic Red Rock hikes I had only recently been introduced to in Vegas. There was also a courage-shriveling moment after a fall on a hiking/rock climbing trip with my volleyball team when I was 12. I was glad to have the online “Lucksacks,” Kevin MacPhee and Dylan Linde, and Nick and Michael Binger as my fellow wilderness explorers

Zion is just a two and a half hour drive from Las Vegas so it was a good choice for post-series detox. Kevin and Dylan had originally proposed to hike the “Narrows,” a river-submerged trail between the canyons that would have required aqua shoes and been practical for the desert heat, but as poker players, we had only concretely decided to go hours before take-off and were disappointed to find out in the morning that there was a flash flood warning for that hike. Unwilling to abandon our Zion decision we made the road-trip anyway, assuming there would be other fun picturesque trails at the park.

My Recently Expired Passport

The guys were all seasoned outdoor veterans, so we prepared ourselves with tents, freeze-dried food, blister bandages, water purifiers, and plenty of sunblock. It was a smooth drive to the polygamy capital and the Zion Visitor’s centre was busy upon arrival and occupied mostly by families with school-aged children. Having active outdoorsy vacations is a very smart way to create lasting positive memories with your kids! The souvenir shop sold passports where children could collect stamps from all the National Parks they had visited. I would’ve thought that was so cool as a girl, though I suppose collecting real passport stamps is pretty neat too!


The park ranger highly recommended we hiked the West Rim, saying it was his favourite trail in the entire park. It was a beautiful but often strenuous 15 mile journey that we split up into two days. We drove up to the North West corner of Zion and parked at a peak to start our hike in the afternoon. We were fortunate enough to fade rain, and made our way towards our camping site at a leisurely pace through vast fields and tranquil forest. We did not encounter another human soul on day one, but did manage to spot a snake, some lizards, and soak in one of the most epic views I have ever seen. The soft sunlight a few hours before dusk landing on a valley of mountain ranges created a symmetrical pedestal-like centerpiece. It would have been a suitable setting for a Tomb-Raider or Indiana Jones movie, or perhaps a hidden valley where dinosaurs thought to be extinct would still thrive.  

The Opening

The Opening

We soaked whatever heavenly energy we could before hurrying onto our camp site against the setting sun. This portion of the hike flew by as we decided to play the Last Letter game, where we took turns naming Game of Thrones characters and terms that started with the last letter of the previous word. Dylan (read each book more than twice) and Nick (read most of them more than twice, wikis GoT in his spare time) were the biggest nerds, followed by Michael (GoT fresh in his brain as he was currently reading the books), and Kevin (has only watched shows) and I (had only read book 3 just a year earlier) pretty close in last place. I am proud to say that I will be well-prepared for the next match since I am now almost done book four.

We were welcomed to the camping site by a vivid rainbow and colourful clouds over a clearing surrounded by light forest and backdrops of mountain peaks. Upon pitching our tents we were greeted by some curious deer who would proceed to circle our camp and stalk us for the rest of the night. I could not make this up! They often came within a few meters of us, and made sure to make their presence known with their bold and noisy behavior. We speculated that we may have stopped in the middle of their living room. We slept under a blanket of stars that night before moving onto day two.

Rainbow Welcome


Stalker Deer

The next morning we realized after cooking our freeze-dried huevos rancho that we were almost out of water. The mapped water source near our campsite was but a thick swamp, so we decided to hurry on to locate the nearest spring many miles away before the sun took its toll. I was prudent enough to apply preemptive blister bandages on my baby callouses, and was taught that the secret to comfortable feet was to change socks often – dampness amplifies friction. Unfortunately I had only packed two pairs, so I could only switch between them several times on the hike. Weathered skin may show character, but it certainly does not look attractive through cute summer wedges.

The trail immediately took us from the comfortable, steady path of day one to a treacherous steep uphill climb over and around countless mountain ranges for most of day two. There were often miles of road without any shade, which, combined with our near-empty water supply and the heavy packs on our backs, made for an intense experience. If I had been with any other group I would have been a whole lot more concerned! At times it was also impossible for me to physically and mentally keep up; my biggest barriers present themselves when there is uncertainty as to where the finish line is. It was the toughest work out of my life.

Finding water made things a lot easier. We took a sock-changing break by our oasis near a cliff overlooking a brand new landscape of gorges and terrain. In actuality the spring was just a puddle-sized well with tadpole-looking creatures swimming in it, but boy was the crisp-bleachy taste of that purified water incredible! We armed ourselves with full canisters for our next segment of the hike, which while often still upwards, took us on a beautiful path that ran along the edges of breathtaking stone mountains.

No pictures could do the experience justice. The depth and curvature of each range was more majestic than the last. We consensually agreed that while the hike so far had been pretty cool, this segment was why the park guide had named the trail to be his unequivocal favourite. It felt like being on a pilgrimage across an ancient land, and we often joked about orcs catching up to us when we didn’t keep pace.

“Walter’s Wiggles” Switchbacks

I guess I failed to mention that I had a flight back to Toronto that evening. We had a strict deadline to finish the hike, grab a quick bite, take a shuttle to our car at the visitor’s centre, drive back up to the start of the trail where the second car was, then get me back to Vegas with time to pack. I had briefly accepted that I would likely miss my flight, given that we didnt even see our first fellow human until about 3 miles left in our adventure. By this time we were all beyond exhausted, but I think if we didn’t have the time restriction we would have gone a few more miles out of our way to hike “Angel’s Landing,” a dangerous and exhilarating highlight of Zion characterized by a narrow cliff trail guided by a metal chain. We were now on a steady downwards descent, and the end seemed near as we encountered more hikers and even whole school groups. How deceiving! There would be about two more hours of steep descension and switchbacks ahead. The journey down was brutally unkind on our feet and joints, and sharing the path with those who had only climbed the few miles up to Angels Landing would’ve made me feel like an outdoor elitist if I wasn’t being humbled by the sweltering heat of a sun at full mass.Zion.JPG

My enthusiasm for the end rapidly turned into a stream of miniature stumbles until we were finally rewarded with the sanctity of the refreshing Virgin River. Our race against time was gladly ignored for a much-needed baptism back to civilization, and I was then able to declare that the West Rim in Zion was now one of my proudest triumphs! I passed out most of the way back to Vegas and was able to make my flight home that evening.

I will always remember the nature of my lusts as we weaved up and down those celestial valleys. No existential angst or worldly desire can compete with my appreciation for an ice-cold beverage and dry socks!

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.

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.

Before the 44th Annual World Series of Poker Main Event

So this year for WSOP I am one of Bluff’s Contenders. The lovely Diana Cox was assigned to stay updated on my progress and has written these awesome articles:

The Contenders: Xuan Liu Picks Up First Cash in Millionaire Maker

The Contenders: Xuan Liu Optimistic and Tweeting for Ivey

The Contenders: Halfway with Xuan Liu

The Contenders: Xuan Liu Feeling Better

21 events, 4 cashes and down to the only one that matters.

Went to EDC for the first time on my birthday weekend and had a blast.


APPT Seoul Trip Report

I was on PokerStars one Sunday and decided to enter a satellite for APPT Seoul when I noticed there was overlay. The event would overlap with EPT London, but I decided to play satellite roulette and head over to whichever continent the poker gods had decided for me. I had never been to the land of kimchi, Wonder Girls, and Gangnam Style before, so I was excted to take a solo trip back to the Orient when I won the package. I had a tinge of hestitation upon following the recent demonstrations of North Korean aggression, but I was confident nothing dramatic would happen in the short week I was there, and made the most of my trip with lots of poker, beauty supply shopping, and being a good tourist.

Day 2

I flew to Icheon Airport from Las Vegas through Vancouver. It was a 17 hour journey, but I am blessed to have the gift of being able to fall asleep anywhere. In fact, I did not experience any jetlag heading Westbound, and was only moderately punished coming home. The first thing I did after baggage claim was rent a portable wi-fi modem. This country has the best Internet in the world! How else could they breed the most elite StarCraft and MMORPG players? The device with unlimited bandwidth was only $7/day, and was more than capable of handling my Twitter updates, vlog upload, and other data usage through my iStuff. I read that the best exchange rates would be easy to find throughout Itaewon, the ex-pat district my hotel was in, but still withdrew a modest amount of spending money from an International ATM at the airport. These machines are hard to find, and if your bank is compatible, the rates are much more competitive than anything you could find at a local bank. English is not generally-spoken in Seoul, but everything was clearly marked and it was simple to navigate to a shuttle bus that dropped me off directly in front of my hotel. I did my research before arriving in Itaewon and was excited to explore the eccentric neighbourhood. Businesses sprouted around the area surrounding the US military base, so there was a huge range of restaurants, shops, and clubs. You would be able to find everything from a block of upscale Italian restaurants and tapas wine bars to kebob and hot dog stands in the back alley. The streets were blocked and patrolled by cops on the weekend when club patrons overflowed off the sidewalk. The Outback Steakhouse, I hear, is quite the popular hangout in Seoul, and there were St. Paddy’s day celebration posters up on the Irish Bars near the African-owned cell-phone shops and restaurants. It was quite an exhilarating first impression as I weaved through the streets on that first night. As much selection as there was, I ended up at a Korean restaurant and ordered some Kimchi Chigae.

The nicest International Terminal in the world?

YVR: The nicest International Terminal in the world?

Checked-in at IP Boutique Hotel

Just checked-in at IP Boutique Hotel in Itaewon, Seoul

Day 2

I reserved Day 2 for exploring. I made some complimentary red ginseng tea, did a 20-min hotel workout through Workout Trainer, had a nice light healthy Korean lunch, and took the advice of Remko to explore Gyeongbokgung Palace. I was surprised that there were more similarities between Northern Chinese and Korean culture than I thought, and basked in nostalgia from trips I’ve taken to the Forbidden City when I was much younger. I took my time wandering the serene palace grounds until I was hungry again.

It’s such a plus when travelling to unfamiliar cities when they have an efficient and easily-navigable subway system. Seoul’s extensive lines were definitely a cut above, with unaffected cellular reception to boot! I basked in the hustle and bustle of commercial street ambience and treated myself to steamed meat buns, duk bogi, exotic shellfish, and fish cake skewers. These cultural and culinary experiences are what I crave for and thrive on, while poker is the vehicle that gets me there.

Being a good tourist at Gyeongbokgung.

Being a good tourist at Gyeongbokgung

I did not buy this.

I did not buy this

Duk Bogi (Spicy Rice Cake), Soondae Bokkum (Blood Sausage with Mint), Various skewers

Duk Bogi (Spicy Rice Cake), Soondae Bokkum (Blood Sausage with Mint), Various skewers

Variations of Luxury in Namdaemun

Variations of Luxury in Namdaemun Market

Day 3 – APPT Seoul day 1a

The scenic ride from my hotel to Paradise Walkerhill Casino was breathtaking. I did not imagine Seoul to be as much of a metropolis as it was, with waves upon waves of condos and suspension bridges. I was eager and excited when the PokerStars signage came into sight. I had never played an APPT before, and having cut back my time on the road playing poker has made the anticipation of a live event exhilerating. The only players I recognized in the field was JJ Liu, Joseph Cheong, and Sam Grafton, David Steicke, and team PokerStars pros Bryan Huang and Raymond Wu, so it was going to be a fun day. Chipping up wasn’t an issue, but I did make a mistake going all-in for a lot of chips with QQ against a button short stack and cutoff being a player I had been very active with throughout the day. I lost against both AA and KK, but luckily I doubled up my leftover 10bb fairly quickly to be able to finish the day with an average stack.

Bryan was gracious enough to take a bunch of us out to one of the best KBBQ restaurants in Seoul. The meat was special because they used select cuts that could not be found outside Korea, and even as a light meat-eater I was able to appreciate the quality. There was plenty of Soju, beer, and plum wine, and I allowed myself to indulge a little since I would have the next day off for the 1B-ers. We then headed to a bar in Gangnam and met up with some PokerStars qualifiers and staff for a fun night of darts, matching screen names to faces, and watching impressive bar tricks.

View of Suburban Seoul on Ride to Walkerhill Paradise Casino

View of Suburban Seoul on Ride to Walkerhill Paradise Casino

Day 1A

Day 1A

KBBQ Feast!

KBBQ Feast!

Canadian Moosehead Beer in Gangnam

Canadian Moosehead Beer in Gangnam

Day 4

I was relieved to have a day off between 9 hour tournament days after Soju and Mooseheads from the night before. I spent the early part of the day nursing a mild hangover until it was time for the PokerStars-organized trip to Seoul Tower. For the first time on the trip my handy commuting apps failed me and I got lost. Did I mention very little people in the city speak English? It was a headache. By the time I made it to the tower there was barely any time to appreciate the 360 degree view of the city from the top. I also had very limited time to enjoy the traditional buffet, which was far more disappointing. Luckily I still managed to take a picture in front of the tree of heart lock thingies with a poker player who was once a Australian Nintendo Champ! Yes, listening to him describe what that meant was as cool as it sounds. Unfortunately our large group got dispersed soon after the tower, so instead of heading to a landmark night market as planned, I took the rare opportunity and called it an early night.

Long story short, couldn't get an actual photo in front of the lock trees, but here is an excellent artistic rendition w/ Nintendo Champ Kelvin Beattie

Long story short, couldn’t get an actual photo in front of the lock trees, but here is an excellent artist’s rendition w/ Nintendo Champ Kelvin Beattie

Day 5 – APPT Seoul Day 2

My chipstack fluctuated a ton on day 2 of the tournament. I doubled up really quickly in the day when a lady 3b me on a dry flop with airballs. I had AA and felt kind of bad her read was so off, but somehow spun it into a question of paradigm about how I am perceived to certain demographics in my head. I did this fun video with the lovely Kristy Arnett on first break:

Chipping up was pleasant and as we got closer to the bubble there were some misadventures. I ended the day very short, although there were several others shorter than I due to the long bubble with several shortstacks blinding down to no chips. A mutual friend, Ted Wang of China’s only relevant poker community, www.dzpk.com, took Chinese poker icon Celina Lin, fellow final tablists Juicy Li and Nicky Tao, and I for an extravagant Korean dinner at the conclusion of day 2. This was the kind of meal and deep run I came to the country for.

I made a vlog before bedtime that night to recap my day if you are interested:

(To clarify, the 77 hand wasn’t when there were two stacks of 2bb left, it was when we had just reached the bubble. It’s still a bad call, just less bad than some assumed from my vague description of the hand.)

Day 2

Day 2

Day 6 – APPT Seoul Final Day

We returned the next day in the money with 21 left. I got a lucky double up with when my Kitchens flopped two pair from the bb after button limped against my 8bb. The field dropped like flies, and the final table was created soon after PokerStars Team Online’s Naoya Kihara played a monstrosity of a pot against his big stack nemesis Aaron Lim to give him a 4x advantage over second place. I fought hard but was dejected from the tournament in fourth place for 44million Won, roughly $40k USD. I was sad but knew I played pretty well so there was no lingering remorse.

As the leftover players negotiated a deal I watched Joseph Cheong work his magic at the baccarat tables while taking advantage of the free beers and frozen yogurt. We moved over to the W Hotel bar afterwards and although fine conversations were had, the night did not meet the usual high chaos levels that most last nights in foreign cities are known for.

Day 3

Day 3

Day 3 Final Table with Juicy Li

Day 3 Final Table with Juicy Li

Final Table

Final Table

Day 7

My last day was rushed and I barely made my flight. I was a little anxious in the morning since I only had a small window of time to trade the Won notes for money usable in the Western realm. I went to a back-alley exchange shop alone and was nervous when I handed the lady my stash. She made a phone call for a guy on a motor cycle to show up a minute later handing her a bag of US currency. There was definitely a non-zero chance I was just never going to see that money again, but hey, I probably got the best rate in town! I was able to trade at 1089 ₩ = $1 when the xe.com rate that moment was 1082. I was able to exhale when I got some familiar-looking crisp bills in return, but still had to play spy and make sure I wasn’t being followed throughout the day. Complete relief was not to be had until my bank accepted the Ben Frankies back home in Toronto.

Obligatory 20,000,000₩ Flash ^^

Obligatory 20,000,000₩ Flash ^^

I wanted to reserve some time to maximize value of Asian goods before I left. Korea is known for their innovative and high-quality beauty products and K-pop inspired fashion, but I got lost on my way to the clothing market so I only stocked up on face masks, bb creams, and ginseng. Did you know snail mucus is the latest secret ingredient to keep your skin smooth and supple? ^^I am now back in Toronto trying to be a normal person while simultaneously feeling guilty about not playing more poker. My skin is the nicest it’s ever been and I am working out and eating really well. I don’t think EPT Berlin is a go, but I will definitely be at the EPT Grand Finals in Monaco and bracelet-hunting in Vegas for WSOP 2013.

My next few weeks of yoga with my mom, visiting my grandma, doing my taxes, and waiting for Game of Thrones Sundays may be a bit too boring to write about, but hopefully some other exciting projects will come into fruition and allow me to make more regular posts. Thanks for tuning in!

Annyeonghi gyeseyo!