Tag Archives: Nightlife

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.

Fluctuat Nec Mergitur

This is my third reverse-chronological entry on my Deauville-Paris-Venice-Paris-Malta-Copenhagen trip. Again, it’s very tl;dr because I suck at making concise and regular updates. Enjoy!

“It is tossed by the waves, does not sink” is the translation for the Latin Parisien motto, and pretty accurately describes my adventures in the city of light and effortless elegance. I have to begin by saying I am not proud I did not get to do all the touristy stuff I had on my check list. The closest I got to the Louvre was to the club across the street, and I kept the Musée d’Orsay hanging more than a few days in a row until we hastily left for Malta. What’s more upsetting, however, is that I was still unable to take advantage of the weak fields at the FPS events. I often use this analogy when referring to these situations, but seriously, there were times when I felt like I was getting beat up by toddlers.

I was actually in Paris twice. The first time was with Noctus, Dylan, and Cal after a Deauville Sunday all-nighter grind. We took a train to Paris and I bragged about paying a lower fare than the rest with my skill to navigate the confusing French rail site until I went on an ugly run in Chinese. We stayed in a roomy 4 bed hotel in the centre of the city by Opera. Since they were all leaving the next morning, we decided to make the most of our time and visit the Eiffel Tower.

I usually have this Dallas Green mentality when travelling (“…but I’ll never take any pictures/Cuz I know I’ll just be right back” from the song Coming Home), but I really wished I had a real camera with me this time. Yes, it’s still just a metal structure, but all that it stands for is pretty alluring. We had some mediocre French tourist food after and pretty much all snap-passed out once we got back to the hotel. Strangely we also all woke up simultaneously around midnight & hunger pangs led us to “Au Pied de Cochon”, a 24-hour joint that specialized in pig’s feet. I was very familiar with the part since the delicacy is actually renowned for its skin-rejuvenating properties in Asian culture. My mother makes plenty of this stuff at home, but the others opted for safer fare. We actually ended up staying there for awhile as Noctus and Cal went tete a tete in a classic science vs. religion debate. That eventually led us to some more fun topics like free will and the existence of the soul. It must’ve been the Parisian air!


It was sad to see these guys leave, but I certainly didn’t mind staying longer in Europe. I was also due for Venice in a few days for the WPT, but more on this mystical city in my next entry. My second time in Paris I was lucky enough to be there at the same time as my friend Cathy, who is certainly the classiest girl I know. I met her at my table itm on the second day of the WSOP Ladies Event where I made a failed attempt to squeeze her open with her 4b shove in my face. She has a fearless table presence and is a force to be reckoned with. She is also effortlessly elegant even though she is not even French and actually is quite diverse in her opinions of Paris. She complains that Parisians complain about everything when they have the best luxuries in the world, and she never makes excuses for herself or anyone around her. I wish I could be more like that!

It was a privilege to have her and Arnaud as my personal guides around the city. Although my French skills are workable with Canadian core French education, the city is much friendlier if the locals don’t see you as an outsider. Cathy, like me, was always up for easy Asian food and it’s nice to do girly things once in awhile. She took me to the finest malls where she knew the Chanel salespeople by name. We tried on clothes, shared decadent desserts, and talked about boys and poker. Joie de vivre! Arnaud did his part and entertained my historical curiosities by taking me to L’Arc de Triomphe, and showing me multi-faceted sides of the city through his familiarity with interesting neighbourhoods and trendy bars. One afternoon he took me out for some delicious Italian food (the day before we left for Venice, obv) in a tres chic neighbourhood. It was renowned for its boutiques, cobblestone paths, and great spots for people-watching, but we were warned immediately after sitting on the heated patio that there is also aninfestation of pick-pockets and small-time scammers, and that I should guard my purse carefully and put my Blackberry away. Sure enough, halfway into our meal the exact scam we were being warned about (a group of mafia-directed adolescents holding maps intending on asking suckers for directions while sneaking away valuables from underneath) came to our restaurant and was hastily shoo’d away by an employee. I had initially thought the petty crime frequency was just an exaggeration, but after the incident I applauded our attentiveness and felt quite good about our fortune for having so narrowly escaped what could have been a disastrous stall to my Euro trip. 

Now for the good part. As we stroll off about 200 metres away talking about not running so hot in poker and preparing to hail a cab, I realize I had forgotten my purse at the restaurant’s patio. I wish I could measure the loss of colour in my face. You see, I try to be prepared to play cash games most days and depending on the hotel I’m staying at I may keep a bundle of cash on me. My passport and five figures of Euros were in that purse, and the irony in this case is understated. Luckily for me I run pretty good at life and Arnaud sprinted down the street to find it right where I left it.

My first encounter with Arnaud was at a 2ke side event at EPT Prague. I’m generally a pretty good shit disturber in a weak field, and when he came to the table it didn’t take long for him to figure this out. He’d been relatively quiet and I 3b his EP open which he called. Board came KQTr and we both checked. Turn is a 9, he puts in a healthy bet and I jam just over pot to find the fold Later on I would learn that he had 54s, which is a hand that will again play a key role at FPS. I would go on later to analyze some hhs with him at a strip-club with midgets. He would also be one of the first guys to convincingly argue that it’s ok and can be respectable to use feminine wiles for metagame at the table. I’m still trying to incorporate that into my game in a meaningful way since it’s nice to have a selection of weapons to choose from.

Ok, onto FPS review. The tournament at Cercle Haussman was a huge success considering the starting days overlapped the WPT Paris event at the Aviation Club. I had originally planned to play the latter, but I was given top secret info regarding the softness of the FPS fields and it seemed like a no-brainer to go for better value. Although it was a smaller buy-in of 2ke instead of WPT’s 5k the prize pool was significantly greater. Like all gambling joints in Paris, the casino was actually a private club that required an annual membership fee. I have no complaints about the venue or the people. They were not necessarily friendly, but concerns were resolved with due diligence and they were conveniently located in a busy downtown area of the city.

Since it happened about two months ago I had to consult my tweets for frames of reference when blogging, and all I got was “50k @ 1st break no showdown yet :)” and “Out KK[less than]AQo last level of the day. Sigh. Rly. Gl @arnaudmattern wreck that table.” Although I can’t recover much concrete details, I do remember that most of the bigger pots were either awesome due to thin value/sick reads, or vs. absurd hands/lines/opponents.

Two absurd hands happened where I wasn’t involved. On the very first hand of the day, Arnaud’s friend was heads-up vs. a villain he had history with no other players seated yet at their table. Starting stacks are 25k at 50/100 and he accidentally raised to 2050 instead of 250 due to a live color misclick. His opponent realized this and 3bets to 6k. Player 1 shoves for a full stack with QTs and player 2 snaps with K3 and wins. This set the tone for the tournament.

It was a field where it was exploitable to play unexploitably, and even as I knew this I managed to get into a bunch of flippy situations expecting them to be flips at worst, and not come out ahead. Despite not having made it past the first day, I had a lot of fun. The players who spoke any amount of English were friendly and engaging. My friend would also direct my attention to some flattering/hilarious posts about me on a French poker forum. I was really sad to go in the last level of the day since I had just transferred to Arnaud’s left from a broken table. Admittedly I got some inside scoop on the table as I sat down: guy to my direct left was a spazzy but competent well-known French player with unlimited bankroll. Guy two seats to his left was a crushing solid high-stakes reg who ended up coming 2nd to Marvin. The rest were at various degrees on the ichthyoid scale. Excluding Arnaud, they were all pretty much pylons.

Here’s where the second hand comes in. With above dynamics, Arnaud from lowjack opens for 1400 at 300/600/50 with a ~45k stack. I fold, guy with unlimited br 3bs to 3750 with ~25k. Basile Yaïche (high-stakes cash guy) with monster stack 4bs to 7800 from sb. Arnaud 5bs to 16200 and gets two folds. He then asks me to pick a card and I reveal the 4c. Awesome! He then animatedly jokes that it was to impress the lady and I oblige, admitting I am impressed. That made a really good PokerStars blog entry.

So I came to the table with about 10bbs, doubled, lost min with 88 vs. QQ that somehow got to showdown, then lost 15bb in sb with KK in a standard spot vs. bb’s AQ reshove against Arnaud’s button open. I did wonder, however, what bb’s lightest jam would be in this spot. If I remember correctly he was playing 25ish bigs eff since Arnaud had us both covered, and due to the obvious familiarity between Arnaud and I, villain must have assumed Arnaud is folding a shitload vs. me and I would/should shove pretty wide.

I wasn’t too upset, however, because I was still in Paris and I thought there were a ton of juicy cash games to be played as well as a potential FPS high roller to look forward to pending my satellite win. The satellite plan was unsuccessful after losing with T7s on 47475 board in a pot where villain min. 3b from sb into 3 players. He barreled thrice and had 75. I looked stupid because I didn’t even immediately realize he had won and was expecting my half of the pot.

There is definitely more to be said about French poker antics but I’ll try to wrap this up and get to the juicier stuff. When Dom flew back to Europe from Aussie Millions we roomed together at a hotel right off Champs Elysses, “the most expensive street in the world”. Our hotel internet connection was very temperamental and both Dom and I lost probably over 2k each in buy-ins throughout the trip due to unstable connections. Well, Dom was actually able to ship a nice win in a turbo despite being dc’d for a few min so he ran a lot better than I did in terms of when the internet decided to cut off. On our last Sunday there Dom was smart enough to prepare to grind at his German friend Alex Debus’ hotel. I was stubborn and decided that since the Internet was fine all day there shouldn’t be any problems with it in the evening. I was wrong and halfway through some big tourneys I was forced to take a cab to meet up with them. The day was redeemed by some meh cashes but I was tortured by the Euro tournament schedule. I was power-napping during breaks and expected to take down the weekly HORSE until my stamina failed me and I fell asleep at the final table! The next day we would hear that Alex played until the next afternoon and ended up shipping the 300 freezeout FTOPS for $300k+. That same night Marvin would win the FPS for something like 250ke and serenade the audience. The Germans were invading Paris again! It was great for me because we feasted on Chinese food after.

On one of our last night’s in town we went to a swanky club called VIP across from the Louvre, where DJ Cut Killer was spinning. He was a friend of Elky’s and we had a pretty nice booth with his entourage in front of the stage. I’d was pretty stressed from the previous week so I really let loose and had a blast with Cathy. This place had no shortage of eye candy between its go-go dancers and young model-types having a good time. The place is so over-the-top in cooler-than-thou factor that the ladies’ room attendant is a black male monk! Yes, that dude is handing you towels, listening to you pee, and asking you if you need perfume. Not sure if that’s the most zen place he could be.

Venice is next!

At Least I Got My Maltese Flag

Malta was the second last stop on my latest Euro trip. It came after Paris and before Copenhagen. I was thrilled to be back in jacket-ess weather for the first time since PCA! The island was warm and inviting in both climate and hospitality. The first thing I noticed at the airport, however, was the interesting dialect that was spoken – a fusion of Afro-Asiatic influences. I was amused that so many X’s were used and giggled to myself while trying to pronounce various words.

During check-in at the boutique Hotel Juliani we were introduced to a refreshing and exotic beverage, a locally-made soft drink called Kinnie. It is made with bitter oranges and tastes like a hybrid between root beer and orange soda. I’m not really a pop drinker, but this stuff is legit. We even saw tourists taking back 24 packs of the stuff on the flight out of the country.

Anyhow after a quick nap and confirming the length of late-registration I quickly made my way over to the Casino Portomaso for a satellite to the main event. The value was too great to be missed as anyone who has ever played an IPT will understand what I mean. The turbo didn’t last long and I went home with one of six discounted seats. I also got a chance to shoot the shit with Claudio Pagano (no, he’s not related to Luca), whom I played with throughout the IPT San Remo 1k event. He is quite the popular guy amongst the Italians due to his always playful and friendly nature. That night Claudio and his friends told me about this 24 hour joint on the island, which would set a precedent as the spot to for every proceeding night.

The next day was the ladies event – a tournament I almost never sell action for and always skip off to with pretty high hopes but finish with my tail between my legs. I thought my luck was finally going to change near the end of this one. I had a quarter of the chips in play when we were 9-handed and 6 paid. Buuut I got ahead of myself and during dinner break I was peer-pressured to reg in the FTOPS 10-game with a lot of action bought. Yes, I would be playing this final table and a 1k mixed game event at the same time. WTF was I thinking?! It didn’t seem so bad at the time, since the ladies event was a turbo and I’d be 1-tabling anyway, but it got super tricky when 1) the floor guy changed his mind about me being allowed to multi-table, and 2) there was no Wifi connection from my new seat, so I had to run back and forth for a bit to another table. What a disaster. Long story short, I ended seeing about 20 hands total in the FTOPS and mis-read my all-in Badugi hand while in a live one, then busting the ladies event at the feature table without even cashing when this one lady (who was maliciously making fun of me in Italian the whole time) decided to snap-call an all-in pot-size bet on the turn with J9o on a K97Tr board vs. my AA. I proceed to lose two more flips after the Q came and abruptly ended off the stage with empty pockets. Big sigh. At least this one camera guy on contract was kind and patient enough to interview me for some stuff he was shooting. It made me feel special but inadequate at the same time, since I have yet to win or even cash in a ladies event since WSOP last year and I’ve been playing my share.

Day 1 of the main was pretty awesome. I started off at a table sitting beside Marvin Rettenmaier and I think I rubbed off a bit of his run-good. He did say in Venice that if I taught him how to play mixed games he would teach me how to hit stuff. I ended the day 5th in chips and was excited and eager to have an equally amazing day 2. I woke up early enough to have breakfast, get pumped, and pick out an outfit for the tables (yes, this is part of the battle for a female player). As I’m in the shower, Dom pounds on my door and I wonder, “wtf, I haven’t taken that long…”, only to hear once I got out that we were getting kicked out of our very comfortable hotel. Apparently Dom thought he had booked for four nights and overlooked that they were completely booked for that final day, so we had to check out asap. I had not anticipated booking, packing, cabbing, and checking into another hotel to be part of my Day 2 prep. Boy was I peeeeeeeeved. Once we got into our room at the Hilton I was in a much better mood. What an amazing view overlooking the flawless sky and rich navy blue water. There was even a full moon that night which made the scene completely majestic and surreal. If I was still in my artsy phase I would’ve snap-painted a picture.

Ok, so there was an interesting situation about me showing my cards in the main. Most of day two was smooth-sailing. I was transferred to a different table near the bubble when I lose a massive 3b multi-way pot on the flop with a set vs. flush draw. I rebuild a bit and then this hand happens: Seat 9, an old man who seems friendly but perhaps a little on the senile side opens his hand on the river when his opponent is tanking on the turn to his AI donkbet on an AKQJ board. His hand is A4 & the floor comes over and his defense is that he heard his opponent say fold, and the other guy is obviously pissed because if he’s tanking on that board he has A4 beat, but is now unable to call because the old man already showed his hand. I didn’t hear anything from the other guy but there were a bunch of reporters around as we were down to just a few tables and there was a lot of Italian being spoken. I couldn’t be sure and was otherwise uninvolved.

This is my hand: same guy, who’s overall very nitty (but then does stuff like the A4 donk-shove hand) opens, I flat with JTs from lp. Flop is JT2 gin. He checks, I bet 2/3, he flats with a pot-sized bet behind. Turn 2, he checks and I decided to check. Given stack sizes I am never folding if I check. I started the hand with about twice his stack and average in chips. River is a 4 and he snap-shoves into me. I am giggly/a little confused and flip over my hand in a playful (not slow-roll) way before I said call. It wasn’t meant to be ill-natured, I really was rather amused and wanted to demonstrate this by adding more character and plot to the already dramatic table and giving the guy an opportunity to muck after I call. I thought I was being fun. Right when I flipped over my hand, he started to flip over his. I quickly put my hand and yelled/signalled “stop”, so he asked, “do you fold?” and I exclaimed “NO!” He then turned over his AK LOL!

So I announce the call again, but by this time the floor is called over and we wait for a lengthy decision. The floor finally decided that I could have the pot in the middle but he would keep his remaining stack. I was also given my first poker penalty of a one round timeout. You should understand that I’m used to cash games where flipping over your hand when completing the action is acceptable. I didn’t realize this was a big no-no, especially after the ruling in villain’s previous hand. It wasn’t the same scenario, but no one ever stated that an exposed hand was dead since he just got away with it! I was pretty tilted that he could pull the same sort of shenanigans twice, but more so because I took my eyes off the prize in a tournament I should be taking more seriously.

This fiasco cost me much more than his remaining chips. The actual bubble was super long – two and a half hours. I doubled up a shorty to became one myself, and no amount of shoving could get me back the stack I once had and put me in contention for good money again. If I had just plainly called he would’ve been out, the bubble would have busted earlier, and I would be in a good spot to go much deeper in that tournament. At least I got my Malta flag with the min-cash.

Whew, got a little tilted at myself after talking about that one again. For a change of topic, Malta is also the place I met my first Scots, David “Harry Potter” Vamplew and Andrew “Some Guy” Ferguson. I knew the British had a special knack for being marathon drinkers, but these fellas don’t mess around. Actually the first time I heard about them was when my roommate Dom drunk-texted me while he was still in Venice after his high-roller final table (a very prestigious two-table sit-n-go), and let me know how much I was missing out by leaving early – he had just met two of the top-earning/only Scottish poker players and they’re paying random Venetians to jump into the water for 200 euros a head. I wish I had extra bills lying around to wipe my ass with. It was a good thing the reputations that preceded them were pretty misleading. I mean, sure Some Guy can be a complete jackass at times (especially before he starts drinking), but overall his head and heart are in the right place (you should see how he talks about his girlfriend Claire), and Vampy is even more agreeable than the real Harry Potter.

Our last night in Malta was definitely not my classiest. To celebrate our various triumphs, we all decided to skip the FTOPS main and have some real fun. We first met up with the Scots at a fake Scottish karaoke bar. We left soon after to a Texan-style steak house. I don’t eat slabs of meat very often, but this was probably the best slab of meat I’d ever eaten. Gracefully, it would not stay in my stomach for long. After food we went to the bar district, “the intersection with all the red dots”. The street might have been a tad shady with a ton of open-concept hookah bars, strip joints, cops in street fights, and drunk people looking off balconies. We managed to pop into a bar with the cheapest bottles I’d ever seen – it was a measly 40e for a bottle of Absolut with 6 red bulls. Unfortunately here was too much blood in the washroom so we had to leave. We hopped to a place a few blocks down with a guy in a horse head. The Mojitos took awhile to arrive but I enjoyed the music and watching the horse go nuts dancing and humping random things.

After this place closed down we bumped into this Swedish guy who was at my last table. He took a nice pot off me and told me to work on his name when I couldn’t say it properly. I asked him to spell it but his Swedish accent was so exotic I couldn’t understand the letters either. After getting some vodka in my system “Jaokim” isn’t so tough. We went back to the 24 hour place and had a hoot after bumping into two other groups there. The super friendly IPT staff and Claudio with his Italian friends including Luca Moschitta, a well-mannered PokerStars pro I played with at my second table of the day. Dom felt obligated to yell out, “HAHA, I took all your chips” to him as they walked in because hanging out with classy people is what I’m about. I only remember buying one round but somehow the night did not end until 7 a.m. You know they’re a good friend when they help hold your hair back. The Swedes were lucky enough to go to the airport straight from the bar with their early flight. Heading to Copenhagen at noon was one of the most difficult journeys of my life. I left a gross vodka puddle at the airport as a souvenir.

I would consider moving to Malta one day. It’s quite the destination for expats – I met a very nice Swedish poker-playing lady, Anna. She was super supportive during the main, and I always feel  warm and fuzzy to be rooted on by people I’ve just met, especially women. Too many of them can be unnecessarily catty. I also met a Canadian expat whose girlfriend plays online, which was pretty cool. The weather there is generally nice, the food is reasonably priced, the people pleasant, poker is legal, it’s close to Italy, it’s a great place to sail (something I intend on doing a lot of when the time is right), and it’s tax-free!

Copenhagen

EPT Copenhagen

My next blog entries will be in reverse chronological order with my last poker stop being summarized in this one. I will begin with my most current trip which consisted of EPT Copenhagen, IPT Malta, FPS Paris, WPT Venice, EPT Deauville, and finish off with some stories from PCA. Think this makes it a little easier for both me and whomever is bored/strangely amused enough to read this rather than regurgitating everything at once.

Copenhagen was the last stop of my latest trip. I went from semi-tropical Malta to bundle-up weather again, but the efficiency of the city was inviting in its own way. The Scandinavians I encountered were beautiful but reserved. The majority of taxi drivers had been incredibly rude, and when I conjured up the courage to ask one nice chauffeur why this was he laughed and explained there is a local slogan which was in his words, “Don’t think you are anything, you are nothing, you are shit.” It reminded me of a rather cynical version of communism. There was even a girl at the hot dog stand in our last drunken night who was swearing/yelling at us to speak Danish or go home. Despite these experiences, I had an awesome time there with some awesome people.

The first hotel Dom and I stayed at was this shithole called Cabinn City. It was on the list of EPT hotels approved by pokerstars, so even though the pictures made the place look ridiculously tiny and the price was about half of any other listed place, we didn’t think they’d stick us in a place where the toilet shares the same space as the shower. You could literally do both at the same time. I also had to sleep on a mattress on the floor since the room was literally the size of a small walk-in closet and we had to strategically plan ahead when either of us needed to maneuver around. Anyhow, we made it our first order of business to rebook at the casino hotel the minute they had vacancy. Our first night at the main hotel waterhole we met a really friendly bartender named Rhys. Throughout our stay he would be by far the most hospitable person I have met at any of our stops. There was an on-going joke about him looking like an older Jeff Madsen – Marvin even insisted on sticking a FTP badge on him and making him do a rapper-pose for the camera.

The actual poker was promising but ultimately fruitless. Everyone anticipated Copenhagen to be the most difficult EPT stop, but I probably had a good table draw and found it to be easier than my Deauville table, even though I had Isildur and Swedish pro Ramzi Jelassi being on my right. The very cute Isildur was unsurprisingly very active especially after antes kicked in, played a lot of big pots, get coolered in some and hero-called in others, maintaining a see-saw stack until he went out on a flush-draw in a 3bp. The only real hand we got tangled in was when I 3b him when we were both about 100bb deep and fired 2 nicely-sized barrels on a QJxxA then went check-check on river. Before I could table my hand to the rest of the table, he saw my A2s and quickly and playfully turned over his KTo and laughed, saying it would’ve been sick if it went check/check on a brick river and I’d win with A high in this huge pot.

I finished the day with a few hundred chips below average and took the initiative to not mingle too long at the waterhole to get a good night’s sleep. The next day I was seated at another mediocre table where I slowly accumulated chips til I doubled up Scott Montgomery JJ < AQ for his last 20bb. The hand I busted was to a youngish player who had been opening a lot in position and folded a few times to re-shove stacks. I didn’t exactly have the perfect re-shove stack, but I estimated his cut-off opening range was wide enough to rejam with T7s. I definitely got a little ahead of myself since I’d been grinding that stack little by little all day before the big hit and would prefer to play with a bigger stack at the table I was at, when really I should have kept telling myself that you can’t win a tournament on day 2. After sulking and re-examining and being criticized for my play, I found out my opponent was actually a pretty renowned online player, Busto_Soon. I certainly would not have taken that spot if I had known at the time, although he did have AQ.

Luckily for me there was free beer during the “football” games in the player’s lounge. The beanbag chairs were perfect for melting into. Before the week was done I’d also win some money/meals betting on FIFA w/ Vampy vs. Marvin, connect 4 vs. any challenger (I lost one 2/3 match the whole trip), and brought back some good times with a guitar hero session.

I went pretty deep but not deep enough in the 1k side event, finishing 14th when 10 got paid. At one point on Day 1 Joe Ebanks, Vampy, Some Guy, and I were at the same table. Not that much fun though since I was trying hard to maintain my game fase. It was unfortunate I didn’t cash because there were several stacks when I busted, but it’s kind of difficult folding AQ from c/o vs. button’s AK with our chip counts. I quickly went to play in the ladies’ event, and busted again with AQ vs. AK in a similar situation. I also had some interesting conversations with a girl sitting directly to my right. She was a “hostess” for various events that were being organized for poker players in town…some (Dom) would refer to these shindigs as hooker parties. She was a really nice girl.

So on what I thought would be my last night Rhys/Jeff recommended a few bars to go to. We ended up at this pretty trendy artsy lounge that had vintage porn posters, “Friends” on TV, and random signage in different languages. The cocktails were delicious (Blueberry Bitches had a handful of real blueberries & lychee) despite it taking an eternity to get our drinks. I also had another close-call with losing my phone, but Dom was kind enough to go back to the bar with me and I was pretty lucky the bartenders found it and hadn’t left yet by the time we got back. I was still turned off by hard booze after our last night in Malta so I took it easy that night and unknowingly saved myself for the day after.

I woke up in the morning with my stuff all packed and ready to sweat Mr. John Eames aka Tony G’s son. Yes, they look remarkably alike, not just in appearance but also in demeanor. I first met Eddy in Venice through Dom after he introduced us to this hidden restaurant with cheese bowls for your pasta and really delicious lobster linguine. He had gone really deep and though he didn’t have many chips going into the final table of the main, he woke up with KK 3 times within the first 15 hands and became a force to be reckoned with. He was kind enough to offer to pay for my flight if I extended my stay for one more night just to party with them after his victory, and I couldn’t say no after he went on a tear. I first met the other Jon (Spinkles) the night I lost my first painful CCR. We ate at this pretty legit restaurant at the top of our hotel and I remember the moment when I knew I adored everyone I was with. Being one of the clumsiest people you’ll ever meet, I accidentally spilled my flight of wine across the table during dinner, right into Jon’s plate and lap! Instead of showing the slightest bit of annoyance, he quickly made a joke about his meat tasting better with wine anyway, and made sure I didn’t feel terrible about the situation. What a sweetheart! He did get his revenge when he picked me last for CCR though.

Team Eames ended up 3rd pretty much due to two bad hands, QQ < AK and AK < AJ. Eddy was a little devastated but we were determined to show him a good time anyway. We had originally planned to go to a club the hostess introduced us to, but after waiting outside a bit and being told some of the guys weren’t up to par with the dress-code, we decided to do some bar-hopping in the area. We stopped by Bar 7 again as our first stop for drinks/shots, walked a bit and found this legit 90s rockbar playing some of my favourites, then finally ended up at one of the other clubs Rhys/Jeff introduced us to. Our entrance into the place was pretty funny – we were all pretty buzzed by this time and after walking straight past the bouncer and being escorted back to the line to get carded, the dude spewed out some cliche anti-American insults at me (I explained that I was Canadian, but he insisted that we were the same – we all lived in white picket-fenced houses and my dad drove a Chrysler). Anywho I lol’d and became offended/rowdy, but was more concerned that Dom and some of the other guys would be denied for being underage. I thought there was going to be trouble and wanted to stay badly since the place looked fun, plus Rhys/Jeff had come to meet us there. It ended up being pretty awesome because the bouncer was actually a really cool guy as he checked their IDs while insulting them with words, but still letting them in without drawing any attention to the fact that they were young pups. We celebrated Eddy’s finish with rounds of these gross ice tea cocktails which were really just pints of hard liquor. I successfully got away with nursing just one for the entire night.

By the end of another month in Europe I was pretty thrilled to go home for some comfort food and detox. I really wished I had done better in my liveaments, but overall I think I played well and am staying optimistic for my turn of run-good. In the meantime I plan to stay at home for another few weeks to put in more MTT hours online, spend quality time with fam, blog, and plan out my schedule until the end of WSOP.

Next up, IPT Malta!

Beijing huan ying ni (Welcome to Beijing)

So I’ve been in China for about 4 days now and I’m loving every minute. Unforunately I can’t upload any pics from my BB, but my dad and stepmom have arrived with a new camera so I’m sure there’ll be new ones coming soon.

The tl;dr version is basically having great food, buying awesome affordable gear, and indulging in a really happening vibe in Beijing. A friend from school was kind enough to take me out to the party scene and I have to admit I am seriously considering moving out here. Really, to make US$ while having minimal expenses along with world-class food and entertainment options really can’t be beat.

The flight was a drag with United, and taking the airport express to save 75Y (~$17) might not have been the best option for my first time alone in the city (I’m working really hard to beoome a life nit), but I got there with everything intact and immediately fell in love with my boutique hotel, esp. since they upgraded me to a suite for my first night. I had a sick view since the hotel was mere metres from the east gate of the Forbidden City, and had all the luxuries I could wish for, especially since I had started coming down with a cold. I spent some time figuring out how to get my phone to work with a Chinese SIM (I kept getting weird cryptic messages since my BB doesn’t support mandarin), and eventually gave up trying to contact my friend and went downstairs to eat instead. My dinner was amazing and comforted my cold symptoms, and the only complaint I have was them bringing me a serving of a specialty green tea (though it was delicious), when I had confirmed my request for basic complimentary tea. I mean, I suppose I could give them the benefit of the doubt for not hearing me properly, but chances are good that they are aware I won’t be able to say no after the meal and 25Y isn’t much for a foreigner anyway (yes, even though I look Chinese, speak Chinese, and act it for the most part, they say it’s obvious – something about my “demeanor”). So on my first night I had tomato and egg noodles (homely fave), hot and sour soup, some marinated jellyfish and cucumber, and 2 servings of tea that was worth more than half the meal itself. The dining room had a pleasant atmosphere and the service for the most part was very inviting. In addition, I was very satisfied to go up to my room and draw a long bath while watching Forrest Gump on HBO and sleeping at a reasonable hour I was not accustomed to.

The second day was just as awesome in a totally different sense. I shopped and haggled til I dropped, bought a plethora of goodies for amazing prices (even though I still got ripped off a lot compared to if I were local), and had two pleasant meals outside. The two malls I went to were pretty touristy, but I didn’t care as there was a huge selection and the items were all much better quality than you’d expect. You really don’t realize how many foreigners are in the city til you come to one of these, and the young shop girls able to bargain in 3-4 languages will let you know. The first meal was after the shopping, which is highly unusal because I am usually very cranky and unfunctional when I don’t have food when I wake up, but I was simply too eager to shop and felt like I didn’t have time to lol. I found a small bunch of street vendors in an alleyway off the road. There were exotic skewers, buns and dumplings of all kinds, and all the customers were local, so it had to be good. I ended up ordering a plate of goodies at 1Y (~0.15) per item, costing me a grand total of 5Y for an a la carte meal cooked in front of you. After going back to the hotel to relax for a bit and go through my purchases with glee, I made plans and took a quick nap before I went across the street to the famous Beijing night food market and had a bowl of specialty soup that lists for 30Y, that I paid 20Y for, but probably could be sold for 5Y to a local. It was divine, and the ingredients really were authentically nourishing – pig skin, shark fin, chicken, fancy herbs and mushrooms, quail eggs. Along with a local favourite, lamb skewers, it was another divine meal.

So my friend met up with me pretty late as he had a business meeting in Tianjin, but nonetheless he was a great sport and took me out exhaustedly two nights in a row. My first Beijing nightlife experience was at Xiu at the Park Hyatt, a trendy upscale lounge/bar catering mostly towards foreigners and hot locals. I hadn’t waited in line for a club for a long time, but this one was definitely worth it. There was an extensive live band that played very current club jams, and the vibe in general was very energetic and enticing. The drink prices were standard for Western bars, but when you see a round costing 350Y when you just bought a year’s worth of accessories for less, it’s kind of a reality check of sorts. But hey, let the foreigners have their status with their drinks costing a month’s avg salary – the city’s not complaining. I especially felt classy when my friend ordered a round of shots and having forgotten that I was sick and couldn’t breath properly, I basically choked/poured the shot onto my face -.- Anyhow, I decided to stick wtih wine for the rest of the night.

The next day was sort of a write-off as you might expect. I attempted to play poker but realized the mere sight of the pixels on my screen sent my head swirling, so I nursed my hangover until I was ready to do it all over again. I had also run out of RMB (I thought I was responsible enough to make what I had last 3 days), and by the time I was ready to step outside the bank was already closed. Anyhow my friend took me out for Yunnan hotpot with fabulous broth. It was a pleasant surprise that I had already started feeling much better, probably between the soups and the alcohol killing the cold germs in my system (ha!). Then we stopped by a lounge in another trendy boutique hotel called the Opposite House, a place I considered staying in before I remembered I’m supposed to be a nit grinder for awhile. Oh, did I mention there is NO LAST CALL? win!?… I’m not sure yet. Well then around 2 we went to a pretty local club called Coco Banana and had decent bottle service there with some of his friends who were all foreigners as well. It was a very different scene from Xiu (this place still had squatting toilets ><), but the vibe was still good and still way better than anything in T.o. imo.

I am writing this at the end of my 4th day, where I am now in Tianjin, reunited with my dad’s side of the family. This morning I was approached by a poker friend online who needed my help. He’s a tournament player trying to SS Rush, and I was glad to be useful and sent him my almost-finished basic strat video (I just have to blur out my SN in every frame and edit some minor parts, though I don’t think I’ll ever be truly satisfied since it’s my first video project). You can see there’s not gonna be much poker strategy on this blog, with my primary focus being on tl;dr trip reports and rantings related to the game, but I highly recommend any decent player to pick up the very profitable Rush on FTP. I may post the vid here on this blog soonish.

I went back to the clubbing district (Sanlitun), had a brunchy meal at a fusion Chinese restaurant and roamed around The Village til it was time for another city. I then went back to the airport to pick up my parents and I would just like to make a quick comment about how incredibly blessed I am. I clumsily left my new LV purse with EVERYTHING – passport, RMB, CDN, US, credit cards, etc. etc. in the washroom stall. Realizing 5 minutes later, I ran back to the restroom, and was completely fortunate that the washroom attendants were honest and valued being recognized with merit in their jobs rather than years (…a lifetime?) worth of salary. They asked me to fill out a claim/comment form, and insisted that I note that nothing was missing from my bag and to praise their integrity in the incident because this will bring them great honour at their next meeting with their supervisors. Wow.

Anyhow my 3 cousins who I haven’t seen for 17+ years picked me up by approaching me and asking if I was who they thought I was. It was a fine reunion that made me really fuzzy inside. We waited awhile for my dad to arrive and headed back to my birthplace, Tianjin. The journey was an intense two hours because the drivers are all crazy. No one checks their blindspots, and it’s all a huge cutthroat race to them. It was also a hoot when my cousin had to stop about half a dozen times on the side of the highway as cars were zooming inches from him to manually wipe snow off the windshield since his wipers were broken.

So I’m here on my cousin’s desktop since her internet isn’t set up on my laptop, but soon I will have wireless here and I can play some pokerz to not feel completely unproductive. I am staying at my eldest uncle’s house, who has 3 lovable dogs. I have already realized that I have a lot more in common with my cousins than I expected. I’m very exhausted atm and probably should’ve done an even briefer summary to be prepared for the festivities tomorrow, but I’m glad I expended the energy.