Tag Archives: L.A.

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.

Sleepless in L.A.

Maybe it’s all the coffee, tea, and energy drinks I consumed trying to stay awake for the tourny, but I was only able to sleep for 2 hours before I had to go downstairs to feed my belly. Oh, and I only had a muffin and apple to eat yesterday, which made my usually bland seafood rice noodle soup taste wonderful. I was debating whether to play or not, but instead I decided to try this new self-management thing and came back upstairs to clean my suite instead. This new age thing better work!

I have to admit I’ve always been quite messy and unorganized. Perhaps I’m just making excuses (again), but I think it may have to do with my unstable lifestyle since I was very little. I was constantly on the road traveling between my parents’ places and I just never got into the habit of being tidy because I never stayed at one place long enough to become settled. I’ve always had this “what’s the point?” mentality, but now that I am older I can definitely see the theory behind orderly self-management as a reflection of inner productivity. I’ve never really had much incentive to change my messy ways, but I’d like to think that I’ll never be too old to change for the better when the motivation is there.

Slumdog Millionaire is my most recent two-thumbs-up flick. A heart-touching hollywood/bollywood tale of a boy with a seemingly written destiny; every milestone of his life brought him closer to a single goal. It has a really great screenplay and makes you feel good inside whether you believe in fate or not. I’d like to think that a lot of my past decisions have brought me closer to poker lol. My memories of my grandma on my dad’s side in China was almost purely those of her playing Mahjong, and I took every opportunity to annoy adults with stupid questions. I’ve known my poker hands since I was about 5, and played variants of Big2 with my other grandma and my cousins for as long as I could remember. I used to watch God of Gambling movies over and over when I visited my dad on some weekends, and I was beating adults in connect-5 and GO into the wee hours of the morning every week when my mom and stepdad threw parties. I was a worthy competitor to national junior chess champions, and though my high school years were more about survival than gaming, I soon found myself waiting outside the casino for an ex-boyfriend while he played Hold’em when I was 17, and getting into the game itself in the first year of college. I visited Atlantic City for the first time when I was 18 and though I wasn’t allowed to play anything, I was absolutely intrigued by the atmosphere and seemingly limitless potential of the gambling underworld. I started playing 2-5 at Brantford casino, a 30-minute drive from school right when I turned legal (an academically detrimental decision that costed me 2-4 days a week). For the first 3 years of college when poker blew up, I was making change online off SNGs and low limit hold’em, running a campus $1/2 game with partners, dealing and supervising at a charity casino in the summertime, and taking down local and school tournys. I took every opportunity to read up on the game and discuss strategies until my determination and drive to continually get better stalled when I ridiculously became addicted to Warcrack. When it became more difficult to win while duo-screening online poker and the MMORPG, I regrettably chose the latter. I then quit playing live poker for about a year around the time of a turbulent breakup (limited transportation and players I used to rob blind had bought a clue), and dealt at a couple of underground joints. It was during this time when a lot of players in the Waterloo community whom I was well acquainted through poker flourished ahead of the pack and are now highly-successful competitors in the field. Upon some supportive persuasion and limited options after retardedly not showing up to any finals one term, I moved to Niagara Falls and made a profitable living grinding the soft 5-5 ($500) game for a couple of months. I then went back to school to finish off my superfluous liberal arts B.A.

With my reinstated freedom, I have since then been on the road quite often coming and going where and when I please. This has proven to not necessarily be a good thing. I have gotten into a terrible habit of undervaluing money and making sub-prime lifestyle decisions. There are days when I absolutely crave more structure and perhaps even someone other than myself to answer to. This has been an incredible journey of self-discovery and I am incredibly thankful that I have made it thus far. I want to believe that I have reached an entire new level of my goal, where any further success can only be achieved when elements of self-actualization are present. I have an ego problem at times. It may be because I’m a girl in a male-dominated field, or I’m young, or because I know I am resilient and have overcome so many obstacles in the past that I think I can get out of any ditch. Poker is so awesome because it’s self-correcting. It’s my therapy. If I respect the game and its challenges, I believe it will treat me well in return, like it always has.

Inauguration dress FTW

Obama’s epic inauguration speech touched me sincerely and I thought it’d be fun to wear a first lady-inspired dress at the tables. Unfortunately it did not enhance my poker skills. My past two sessions have truly brought out the social fish in me. I am easily manipulated if you have the motivation to appeal to my naivete. Poker players who want my money have that sort of motivation.

I am very upset at myself for soft-playing certain players in many situations and be psychologically defeated on so many levels for not having very much experience with the social metagame. I have been warned numerous times, but some recent examples are really forcing me to grow up in order to survive this game. Stacking resilience without compromising my core principles just became my priority du jour.

Tomorrow is day 1 of the LAPC. Wish me luck.

Observations and confrontations

I’m still here in the City of Angels getting my grind on at the infamous Commerce Casino. Been making efforts to maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle by getting some exercise each day before sitting on my ass for a dozen hours, but it can be a problem sometimes when my schedule is so messed up. The game is not as good as it was during the holidays, but there is still lots of pocket-lining potential after tweaking my leaks and making conscious efforts to develop my play.

A player made an interesting observation about the city of L.A. the other day. He was from out-of-town and commented about the weird “energy” that was at the Commerce, which I have since reflected on. The casino itself is in an industrial and predominently Spanish-speaking town about 15 minutes from downtown L.A. It is the world’s largest poker casino with over 200+ tables split into two main sections and with services you’d find at any high-end gambling facility, but it feels more like a chaotic sports arena rather than a high-roller’s joint. The players vary from complete noobs to bracelet-holding pros, and casual players consisting of fratboys to celebs and strippers. The tables are crammed into a grid with little room to maneuvre in between, which can make it difficult when there is a heirarchy of floorpersons, chiprunners, servers, porters, cocktail waitresses, masseuses, Blimpberry girls, candy girls, and railbirds fighting for legroom. The atmosphere is further characterized by a dizzying spectrum of noises from these parties with competing interests, so one can imagine that it can be more difficult than other places to stay goal-oriented. Ah, but it is a place that tests true character.

My friend Tri has been consistently encouraging me to work hard for the next 6 months after cramming some numbers, and he put my situation quite bluntly into perspective: I can either focus tirelessly for the next little while and accumulate an income equal to the top 5% of Canadian earners, or I could let my mind and eyes wander off and be distracted by the naturally temptation-inducing L.A. lifestyle as a young person. Q also constantly warns me of the common mistake of many poker players to get caught-up with too much partying in the city after moving there and being forced to return home. I will not let this happen so long as I still want to play. Yes, I do miss the unequivocal VIP treatment from my home casino and not feeling like I’m being thrown into a ring of ravenous vultures everytime I step into the pit, but I am stepping up and thinking long-term.

Sometimes I surprise myself thinking about how much I’ve changed since I was a punkass teenager. I’ve recently been experimenting with an ultra-aggressive gear that seems to instigate confrontation from dumb players. Well, dumb people would be more accurate. As I was trying to extract information when faced with a strange river bet as the preflop aggressor in a pot against a guy who was taking my style as a personal attack, this annoying girl who was attempting to flirt with everyone at the table started ranting about how I was taking a long time and directed a series of rude comments at me instead of simply calling time. I gave in to the pressure and folded my hand as the donk villain turned over a bluff. At this point, I confronted her rude behaviour and lack of etiquette, and the argument became quite heated as crowds were drawn. If this was years ago, I would not have hesitated to kick her ass to Beijing, and for the most part, I am proud of myself for handling the situation the way I did. I felt especially blessed when Tri came over to my table and started wrecking havoc by antagonizing the bitch and taking everyone out of their poker comfort zone (what he does incredibly well). Unfortunatly he lost to a rivered 1-outer (quads over boat) after putting her exactly where he wanted, but that did nothing to undermine the kind gesture just the same. I think it’s called the tranference of negative energy or something? lol. He ended up sucking out all the anger from me and took the burden instead.

My observation of L.A. based on my experiences thus far, is that this city is very spoiled and often ungrateful. The people are blessed with an amazing climate and fingertip access to the finest things in the world, and yet they appear to be bitter and unappreciative. It is also often depressing to watch the flock of older immigrants who appear to be the hardest workers in the casino with the general maintenance labour they do, but who also get paid the least since their line of duty does not include hustling for tips. As I have made myself familiar with the gratuity system here, I find myself creating excuses to tip these people and reward considerate behaviour from all the staff. I think it’s the little things that count. There is also a drastic difference between the mentality of a selfish employee and that of a benevolent one which can be observed in this simple illustration: after finishing my meal, I put a tip to the side of the table symbolizing that it can be cleared. A selfish floorperson who already hustles for tips comes over when he sees the coin and just pushes the table to the side while pocketing the money (it is not his job to clear tables), while on another occasion an infinitely more compassionate worker will call over a porter (who do all the dirty work) so he can work for that dollar instead. Perhaps example B was simply doing his job, but after seeing what he could have done, I was touched and tipped him as well.

I really hope I won’t turn into a bitch, but so far it appears that you need mighty thick skin to make it out here.

NYE ’09 in L.A.

So what did I actually do for new years? Well, Marco’s been a good friend on WOW (and school, but that’s less significant :)), and I figured I’d probably just be at the tables if I didn’t go out with him and his friends anyway, so I accepted his invite for Giant Maximus, and it turned out to be quite the experience. I got picked up from my hotel after they went in circles for like 2 hours like noobs and we met up with some of his friends at a girl’s condo. Everyone seemed really chill and excited for an eventful night. Her place was pretty nice in a complex downtown; I asked about the rent costs just to know my options 🙂

The venue was pretty crazy…a carnival in downtown L.A. with numerous tents of world-renowned DJs. Unfortunately shortly after we got in, the girl was arrested for getting caught taking a bump and being in possession of some pills. A group of her friends left with her, so after waiting around for awhile, it was just down to a group of 5 of us. I’ve never really been into rave culture even when it was big back in middle and high school, but I can definitely see its appeal with this crowd. It was a pretty intense party, but my mind was on one person and my girls back home. I hated how I didn’t get reception on my phone the entire night, especially seeing Eric go on his every few minutes to call/text his girl. I also got tired pretty fast from not getting too much sleep the night before and only having a quick meal right when we got there. We ended up leaving at around 4ish, when it started to get really really cold from the lack of body heat. Eric was also feeling unwell and threw up a few times there and in the cab, and it was quite the mission getting back to his gf’s to crash since he was completely delirious and we had to go through a looooot of trouble to get in to her place..

No need for details though, the good thing is that we all got back in one piece. As for me, I realized I’m really less outgoing than I ever realized. In fact, after seeing all the outrageous stuff that night, I feel a lot like an old fart. Maybe it’s the place in my life I’m at right now, where I really can’t afford to make more mistakes and stray off my goal. Or perhaps it’s hard to have a good time with too much on my mind. I did have some ingenious thoughts on that crazy stuff I took though. That was my second time rolling but completely different than the first. It got so intense at some points that I was actually frightened because I didn’t feel in control anymore. Well, if I do it again it’s only gonna be with really close friends and in moderation. Still had a blast though 🙂

All the best in ’09

Happy happy new years to all!

Had a pretty interesting experience to end off ’08 and I realized I really can’t go as hard as I used to. Looking at the pics of Bungalow where Huyen, Syd, and Jere spent their new years, I really wished they were either in L.A. with me or I had just taken it easy back home with them. That isn’t to say I didn’t have an extraordinary night.
The two days leading up to NYE was pretty rough at the tables for me. After the fiasco where I got stacked my last hand, I didn’t feel like playing the next day until I was starving at 2 a.m. the next night with absolutely no food options except the casino. I had just come back home from the mall after spending $60 for cab fare to and from the mall, and getting nothing except some Victoria’s Secret stuff for friends (we don’t have it in Canada), and having my nails done. I guess I should have planned to get to the mall earlier rather than two hours before they close, but walking up at 6pm only meant 6 hours of sleep from a traumatizing night lol. So getting back to the story, I decided wee in the morning that I would call for a casino ride there, since the taxi service the hotel arranges is very inefficient, rude, and a total ripoff. I ended up speaking to 5 different casino representatives as they transferred me to different operators and finally got hung up on twice after being put on hold. I now know the driver by name after getting a ride back from him every night, and yet they can’t find the right person to transfer me to drive me two damn blocks. Argh.
So of course being the stubborn person I am, I decided to walk there by myself. I have been rigorously warned about the precautions to take while traveling to and from the Commerce, but I was damn hungry >.<
However, as soon as I stepped out, I headed back in again after walking a few meters. It was damn scary! The fog made it impossible to see clearly a few steps in front of you, and having never walked there yet, I was uncertain of the exact path to take. Logic rang an alarm in my head, so after some more deliberation I decided to head back in. I was so frustrated! I contemplated what I should do for the rest of the night: force myself to sleep until breakfast? Give in and call a crappy cab after almost getting in a fight with the last drivers? As I was thinking, I wandered to the fitness centre. It was a 24 hour facility that required a cardkey to get in. I checked out the impressive machines and clean change rooms, and couldn’t wait to eat something so I’d have the energy to actually make use of the place. As I tried to leave, I realized my key no longer worked to get out. WTF -.- Someone had to be messing with me today! I tried every exit, but was on complete lockdown from the rest of the hotel, except for one door that led to an exit at the very back of the building to a street I didn’t recognize. Ironically as I went out through this mystery door, I was able to see the main street that both the Commerce and my hotel were on. What the heck, I decided to walk it out…
I have made some stupid decisions by putting myself in unsafe situations when I was younger, but that’s cause I was too stubborn to truly understand the risks. This walk could have rivaled any horror movie scene, as only two cars passed me during the entire journey. The scary part, however, was that there were nothing but trees most of the way to my left, nothing visible within a few meter radius due to the fog, and a huge industrial street on my right, with a major highway beside that. Even if I screamed if something happened to me, I doubt anyone could really hear due to the traffic of the freeway and low visibility of the area. Anywho so I was glad to have made it to the Commerce in one piece, and I was ready for my noodles! I went to the washroom to dry up from the misty light rain and got seated at a short-handed table. Let me tell you I was not playing good poker that night. My mind was in a thousand places and I definitely should not have sat down at a table of regulars who were obviously glad to have me there. After being involved in a few difficult situations that left me withdrawing from the cage, I was really glad to see Tri! A familiar face in a tough city is definitely priceless as I enthusiastically told him about my abominable day. He ended up sitting at my table and offered his timeless wisdom as he continued to laugh at me for given a hard time by the floor people and always ending up with the second best hand the whole night. It was definitely quite the damage control session.
Afterwards he asked me to accompany him to the laundromat, so I agreed, hoping to get some more poker advice in return 🙂 He gave me some really helpful metagame advice and I’ve been putting lots of thought into it ever since then. I haven’t hopped on the tables since because I’m still partially recovering from a physically demanding night, but players better watch out when I do.

Victim of angle-shooting retardedness or too tired for good judgment?

Ok so after having breakfast at the sports bar with a pint and trying to resolve Tri’s new year’s dilemma, we both sat down at the same $1500 table. We decided we would try to keep the heads up matches grounded to only small pots since it is rather silly to gun for each other when there are so many other worthwhile opponents in the game. He was up to his usual antics in no time (uber LAG supremo), so I mostly stayed out of his way until I realized he was stuck in 6th gear and needed a kick in the nuts to play some better poker. Being up a few hundred bucks and realizing pretty much every player at the table was gunnin for Tri’s money, I decided to get a table change and wound up beside the world’s drunkest asian player (he would make Scotty Nguyen look like a gentleman). He made things quite uncomfortable as he constantly leaned inches from my face every hand whispering broken drunken Engrish, but because he said nothing but nice things and tried to offer me advice on how the only way to make money at poker is to play squeeky tight, I decided not to be a poor sport and complain to the floorman. The table fluctuated between decent action and weak-tight uneventfulness, so I thought many times about getting a table change and even asked the supervisor for one that never got responded. I understand they work on tips and believe me, I am very generous if they go out of their way to help me, but I want to see that they are proactive and would prefer to reward them only after they have granted my request.

Anywho, so after a couple of hours of creating pots for myself from being card-dead and being forced to fold everytime I get played back at when making a move, I am hovering around even until I catch myself having to work way to hard to win pots and calling river bets super light from not reading the board properly. That’s definitely my cue to call it an even night, so I rack up my chips and was ready to leave when the guy to my right tells me I might as well see 1 more free hand. Meanwhile, a new player comes in at seat 1 (I am at seat 9), and appears to buy-in for $500. I recognize her as a dealer who often hangs out in the room after her shift, but have never actually seen her play before. On my last hand, LAG to my right blind raises, I call with 22 and 7 players end up in the $175 pot. Flop comes K72 all spades. I am not exaggerating when I say that within a span of 5 seconds, all 6 players check before I get a chance to process the board, at which point I had to announce to the dealer right when he was about to burn that I had not yet acted. At this point, the players who know what they’re talking about defend me profusely as they make jokes about checking out of turn really fast so players before you won’t get a chance to bet, while the donks who want a free turn tell me it was my fault I was not on top of the action. The floorperson gets called over, and even though the dealer chick apologized for checking out of turn and stating obviously that I had not acted, the retard who got trained by monkeys tell me it’s my responsibility to act and to stop the dealer before the burn is peeled. Note that the turn isn’t even out yet. I notified the dealer immediately when I realized he had skipped me (even he admitted this to be the floorperson and confessed it was his fault), and yet the 3 donks arguing for a free card get the benefit of the ruling. I am pissed and tell him he is ridiculously wrong, but am left with no contingency as he tells me the ruling is final. The turn is a brick 8. I replaced my rejected $100 bet into the pot and asian lady min-raises me to $200. Everyone folds around and I look over at her stack, still 3 piles of $5 for $300 and some change. I shove and she calls me with a flopped flush. River is a brick, and the dealer tells me I owe $600 something more. Before I could process what happened, she brings out a stack of white chips ($100’s) she had behind on the other side and I am stuck for the night on this life-tilt hand. Then I hear comments from the players about how she is known for checking out of turn for info and angle-shooting to maximize. WTF>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
I should have been more careful and made sure that she only had $300 left, but I was so heated and pissed off from all the donkey comments about me not being friendly and arguing to bet $100 on the flop that it did not even occur to me that she would have no other hand in that spot and did not realize how clouded my judgment was until it was all over. I stand up with a near empty tray welcoming myself to L.A. out loud as the guy to my right has the nerve to try to hit on me as I make my exit.

Getting Cozy

I enjoy the game at Commerce very much.

I began the day casually with a nice stroll around the nearby outlet mall searching for belated holiday gifts. Ate a delicious Hawaiin fish sandwich for breakfast (at 5pm) that tasted like a cross between a filet-o-fish and a classic patty-on-a-bun from a bakery around my middle school. I must say L.A. has the best food anywhere. From Mexican pho to authentic Mandarin hotpot, specialty restaurants are everywhere and on average, much better than anything that can be found back home. Since this was my first day alone in the city, beginning with a Starbucks Chai Latte was a must to incorporate some familiarity into the experience, and though I couldn’t find any appropriate gifts at the shops, the complex made for a pleasant walk and I did manage to find a cute purple jacket, which I had been looking for in T.O.

Poker was pleasant as well as I turned a decent profit playing a couple of hours. I do realize, however, that I really need to put in more time at this game if I am hoping to play the $10-20 no max. game in a month.

Also confirmed New Years plans for Giant Maximus with a friend from school. I figure it’s either that or part-ay with degen poker players during the countdown (again), so I guess I’ll be off commission for a few days after the event 🙂