Tag Archives: online poker

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!

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.

Summer’s end in Toronto

A bit more than halfway through my first WCOOP. Disappointed with my results thus far but still optimistic with eight days of action left. My schedule has been pretty packed and I feel I throw in just the right amount of fun and entertainment to keep me sane for the duration. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to fit in more than two of these on any given day: grind, gym, go out, adequate sleep. I have a yoga ball and an elastic band I use to roll around and stretch during breaks, but I was in a pretty good groove right before WCOOP so I still feel like I’m slacking.

I’ve also just about perfected a system of food preparation for grind days. The night before I would do the necessary meal planning, marinating, putting sammiches together etc. Then during the ~5 minutes of freedom I would turn on the heat and complete an entire meal AND use the washroom before my tables started up again. Sometimes it would take a little longer and I would have to randomly run back to the kitchen and thus time out in arbitrary spots which must confuse people, but overall it’s very efficient. Today I had an egg wrap with honeydew smoothie for breakfast, a grilled pesto turkey sandwich for lunch, and spicy soy-ginger salmon with brussel sprouts for dinner. Not too bad for spending 13 hours in front of the computer!

Toronto is getting colder and I’m looking forward to going back to Europe for EPT London, WSOPE Cannes, and EPT San Remo. Even though I haven’t spent that much time across the pond this year, I feel my experiences there were so dramatic that trips to Europe will always be an integral part of my life. I will miss my apartment and its fabulous view, no-nonsense workspace, and the impression of accomplishment it gives me, but friends and adventures await! Hopefully there will be a happy WCOOP wrap-up post to come, and I promise I will pull my own teeth and write about WSOP. I really did have an amazing time and would hate to let the memories fade.

Guess who’s back

Are you there, blog? It’s me, X.

It’s been a long while since I last posted, and EVERYTHING has changed. I feel like I’m finally on track again after my huge derailment in April last year. I won’t get into details, but things were intense and dramatic. Depended on people I should’t have, realized some huge leaks in my game and my life, and have basically restarted from scratch.

Satelliting into the LAPC was great and I got to play with a ton of pros and aspiring players alike. Day 1 I was sitting to Eric Liu’s right and with a table full of cabbage patch kids, but I think I played well and ended the day off with a decent stack. My day 2 didn’t go as well, however, I had Phil Laak (not that he is a great threat) to my left and Elky at my table, who I ended up busting to in one rotation when I had AK and QQ vs his QQ and AK of which I lost both flips. I went back to T.o. for a little bit and got into swing trading with my stepdad. It was definitely a good time to be in the markets after the crash in March, and poker was put on the back shelf for awhile. I was able to completely pay off my student loans in lump sum, which was a huge load off my shoulders. Then a good friend of mine encouraged me to go to the world series, but unfortunately, my middle name is still Murphy and I got denied at the border because I didn’t have a return ticket (I wasn’t sure how long I’d be in Vegas/L.A. for). The border guard then had the nerve to ask me for my e-mail so he could “let me know when to come back next so I can get across”(!)

So realizing I’d be stuck in T.o. for at least awhile longer and having found a new interest in finance, I hastily enrolled in the CFA and then studied 300+ hours of material of which I had no prior background. I took my level I exam in December and am still waiting anxiously for the results *fingers x’d*

With more market money my family went on an amazing cruise with Royal Caribbean. We visited some beautiful islands, and I spent a decent amount of time playing e-poker there against fishy tourists. The rake was really ridiculous and most people bought in shortstack so results weren’t anything to brag about. After that, I have my connected friend to thank, who helped me tremendously the next time I was in L.A. Unfortunately it was evident my frazzled circumstances leaked through to my game, as I was really uncertain whether to continue pursuing the poker path due to making what appeared to be ridiculously easy money trading at the time, and it was evident I was forcing things to happen rather than just playing well and letting things unravel naturally. I did, however, enjoy playing in the media event at the Bike’s Legends of Poker in their new tournament room, and got to meet some celebs and nice people.

Another huge thing that happened was me meeting someone I really connected with at the tables. Ironically, it was his consistency to take my money (he always had position on me heh) that inspired a lot of our early conversation. This person helped me regain perspective on my goals and encouraged me to start playing online again and seriously study the game. My past few months of success there have him to thank.

So I’ve been back in T.o. since September, initially studying like 5-8 hours a day and playing for 2-3 hours. When my nose is in my books, I think to myself that getting a “real” job in finance will be rewarding and stable. Then I am reminded of the neverending 9-6 grind and I give thanks that I am able to maintain a decent winrate at poker with rakeback so I don’t have to. It’s not the best trait to have, but I also work immensely harder and am more thirsty for success when I am desperate. When I got back from L.A. the second time, I started going on 2+2 more, opened a new rakeback account, taught myself PT, and was able to book a couple of wins in large MTTS to immediately get myself back on my feet. I was especially proud of taking down the PS Battle of the Planets monthly triple shootout, since I had saved my entry from being on the SNG leaderboard like 2 years ago.

Initially I was nervous about how I would do in cash games online, since live players generally have infinite tells and tendencies that are highly exploitable and unavailable online. I was also aware that the online world was much more difficult for similar stakes, so I am really glad I was able to overcome that skepticism with objective results. These days I’ve been playing 9-12 tables of NL100, with the exception of today – they just came out with RUSH poker…it’s definitely been a thrill to play. Unfortunately since I’ve started playing online, my desire to play live is practically nonexistent, but I’m sure once I do again, I’ll feel right back in my niche. Another benefit of online play is, I never have to consider feeling like I’m being exploited because I’m a girl. Even though my FTP name is very feminine, players automatically assume I’m a guy and it doesn’t give me the opportunity to level myself 🙂

Also started talking to a great MTT player who went to my school who I’ve known from awhile back and have learned some valuable lessons on pushbotting and grinding MTTS. I think it’s important to diversify and have lots of tools and skills in my arsenal. He’s been really helpful and is also encouraging me to continue pursuing this poker path against the possibility that when I got back to China in Feb I will like it too much and settle there with a “real” job.

So that’s the summary of the rest of 2009 since my last post. I’m a lot more objective now, and I am dedicating more time and resources to meeting goals and deadlines. I’ve realized I can’t just wade through situations hoping for the best; it’s up to me alone to make shit happen. I have definitely also learned to value money more, and be more careful of whom I keep close to me.

Finally, I’d like to offer my condolences to the people of Haiti in the recent Earthquake. The private island of Labadee where our cruise stopped was beautiful, and I am very saddened by this tragedy. I am, however, very touched by the response from the international community, even the poker sites, for their efforts in contributing to the cause. I am uncertain yet as to how much I will pledge (even though tbh I’m not a huge advocate of monetary donations anymore), but since there’s really no other way I could help, it’ll probably be a % of my earnings for the week.