Tag Archives: PCA

There and Back Again

The Story So Far…

January 2012 kicked off with a bang as I became the first ever female PCA final tablist, and by December I had landed my first magazine cover for Poker Pro Canada. Everything in between was A-OK, with a few more final tables and memorable trips to here and there. With the support of my family, friends, Twitter followers, and fans, I feel triumphant and eager to dive into my poker career and any other projects on the horizon for 2013. A while ago I entertained the idea of posting video blogs to replace these written ones, hoping I would have more fun updating my site regularly. I recorded a bunch of footage in one sitting, but the editing process weighed me down so I pushed the endeavour aside until the post became outdated.

2013 came subtlety, and PCA was another great trip. This time I had my mom, stepdad, sister, and cousin with me to root me on. It was not as glorious as a deep finish in the main, but I still managed to make them proud with my picture on the billboard and a final table finish in the ladies event. It was nice to feel their support breathing down my neck.

Seriously though, I think everyone had a great time, which is what’s most important to me.

Ladies Event

Ladies Event

Live Pro

I am currently in Las Vegas overlooking the Strip as I sweat the results for Day 1 of the NBC Heads-Up tournament. For those unfamiliar, the event has a rich history dating back to 2005 as the first poker event to be televised and produced by a major American network. I don’t generally watch poker on TV, but it’s a lot of fun predicting winners for each bracket and sharing them with players, media, and fans while receiving live updates on my Twitter feed. My fun predictions below are based on 70% skill, 10% media-training, 10% momentum, 5% favouritism, and 5% superstition :). I don’t have money on this so I will be entertained either way, but I would like my room mate and good friend Scott Seiver to win. No introduction is necessary for his talents, and his TV presence and table talk would be very entertaining to watch.

My NBC HU picks

My NBC HU picks


The event field is a mix of top-ranked GPI players and players who are “good for poker.” I aspire to be one of those rare hybrids (like Scott) who has mad skill and is also a fine ambassador for the game. The reality is that the changing nature of the industry has gotten even the elusive Phil Ivey to monetize his name. Yes, he badly needs a new ghost Tweeter and Team Ivey recruiter, but the players who put themselves out there for public scrutiny are doing us all a favor. Not only do they keep the demand high and player pool fresh, it should be a pleasure watching them connect with people in profound ways simply by playing the game. Anyone with this gift should pass it along without insecurity or guilt.

Which leads me to my (unofficial) announcement: I will be on the next cover of WPT Magazine. I haven’t seen the photo yet, but I did the no carb thing for a week during WPT Montreal so it’d better look decent. I’ll probably be wearing a green strapless dress with my phonetic name in an Oriental-inspired font and my Chinese name attached horizontally on the side. Hopefully this will be just as good for the poker world as it will be for my self-esteem and my family’s honour. I hope my arms won’t look fat.

I know poker in Asia has been trying to expand for some time now, but I sincerely believe that 2013 will be a huge year for the game in China. I missed WPT China in Hainan in December, but I have been brushing up on my Mandarin skills in preparation for the market to break through. I can finally do an Asia backpacking trip and spend months away abroad playing poker, eating delicious food, and achieving inevitable enlightenment.

Gratitude

I’ve been travelling around the tournament circuit and playing MTTs online for about two years now. At first I was a doe-eyed wanderer, easily influenced and thirsty for knowledge. I had nothing to lose. After a while and some scores I became anxious and uncertain. What if I was just lucky? Surely it’s not time to celebrate results yet. Don’t become complacent, still a long way to the top. That is the goal, right? Work harder, become more cut-throat. It was hard to find peace, and little things started to bother me. I know these transitions are not unique to the poker world, but the intensity of the poker pro experience magnified the instability. I did not feel good about my assimilating identity, and I had trouble embracing the present.

I was skeptical and got dragged into attending a personal development/leadership program in Vegas. The experience is different for everyone, but for me it’s been a personal retreat to examine some of my personal flaws and untapped potential. I’ve always nurtured a desire for self-improvement and feel like I am more self-aware than most, but this program has really been critical in helping me visualize the kind of footprint I want to leave. Most importantly, it’s convinced me I shouldn’t do it on my own! The processes of the program are not without criticism, but I truly believe that most people can benefit from it. This is by no means a paid endorsement and all opinions are my own. I would be more than happy to have a conversation with anyone interested in attending regarding my experience.

Giving Back

One of the opportunities that has opened its door for me is my role as board member for the inaugural “Against All Odds” Charity Poker Tournament for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Along with the hospital’s Las Vegas chapter Chair, Daniel Negreanu, Michael Binger, and Nick Binger are just some of the powerhouses also on the committee. The tentative date for this black-tie optional event is November 13, 2013. We will be organizing an unprecedented multi-tiered SNG format event with awesome prizes, people, and activities. At the top of our wish list for prizes is a Virgin Galactic trip to space! We will be working hard in the next few months to gather the best donations possible to make the event a rewarding experience for all. Please save the date!

If you are unfamiliar with St. Jude’s, they are a cutting-edge research center and hospital for children that no family ever has to pay for. We are currently seeking sponsors and donations at various levels. If you are interested in helping or have questions, please contact me or any of our board members.

Next Final Table

Since there are no final table opportunities in Toronto I will be travelling across the pond for EPT Berlin, WPT Barcelona, EPT London, and of course, the EPT Grand Finals in Monaco. I will also be playing every Sunday and the occasional Zoom session when I am in Canada.

As an EPT Players Council Member I would appreciate feedback and suggestions for the upcoming events. I know that PokerStars already has a fantastic support team, but channelling ideas through different outlets can be quite effective. No question or matter is too small!

Until next time,

Xuan

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Bring it on, 2012!

I enjoy blogging but life has been good to me and I’ve been busy. Since my last entry I’ve been to Hawaii, learned how to snowboard, final tabled PCA, celebrated the Dragon Lunar New Year at home, went to Whistler/Vancouver, and saw old friends at the Fallsview Poker Classic. Half an hour before New Years countdown I was still at my computer, grinding away hyper-turbos to make Supernova for the year. No, it’s not a significant milestone by any grinder standards but I spent much of 2011 on the road so it was an achievement for me. I was also very lucky to have some of my favourite people right behind me sacrifice half of their evening for my sake. It was a really good night.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do PCA, Aussie Millions, both, or neither the first week of January. I think I made the right decision. I played the best six days of poker of my life and was profoundly rewarded. I made sweet plays, soul-read, induced, stayed focused, and had the best rail and support system. After day 3 I often was barely top 5 at many of my tables but I played fearlessly against these sickos and capitalized on my strengths. I didn’t have to win a true flip for all of my chips at any point in the tournament, except in a 3-way pot with JJ where I lost chips to QQ but AK had me covered, still resulting in a net loss. I lost AK vs. AA to a short Ruben Visser. I won a huge bvb pot AQ to KT vs. Assasinato for the chiplead with 2 tables left. I won AK vs. QJ to someone who didn’t trust girls’ 3-bets. I played great postflop, minus a questionable play early at the final table against Kyle Julius. I lost A7 to Faraz Jaka’s A6 for 4th place. I added $600,000 to my tournament winnings this year.

I could elaborate and write an extensive essay on the 44 hand vs. Kyle’s QQ but I won’t. I talk about it briefly in some interviews. In a nutshell it was probably too marginal, but taking everything else into consideration I don’t mind it. Some people loved it and others hated it. Pulling triggers is usually a good thing as long as you’re thinking.

I haven’t watched any of the coverage or interviews from my Final Table because I’m one of those people who cringe at how awkward I am when I hear my own voice or see myself on video. The hole cards were on a delay, so I got most of the scoop from my rail. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better with interviews, but I could definitely still use some media training. I also looked super tired, because I was! Playing 6 long days of intense poker will do that to you. I was also very touched with all the support from Tweeters and the general media, I wish I had time to reply to them all.

I also tried to fly my parents and my sister down to watch my final table, but it wasn’t meant to be. They ended up wasting six hours at the airport, and I didn’t find out they weren’t coming until after my bustout. I pretty much passed out immediately. I was crushed, but still managed to have a great time at the Pokerstars party the next day. I missed my morning flight of course, but it turned out alright because I was around to bail out Timex’ friend from Bahamian jail.

I’m proud to be a poker player. I don’t advertise this fact to the general public enough. As a group I think we are mostly generous, good-hearted people. We have flexible schedules and get to travel the world playing a game, so of course we should be happier than most. Sometimes we run bad and even the best foods lose flavour, but if you are skilled enough, other players will take care of you. Having said this, I also believe many of us live in a bubble. We undervalue almost everything, and easily lose perspective on what’s important. I know I’m just starting off in the poker world, but I never want that to happen to me.

LAPC and Bay 101 is next, and I will most likely be in Europe for WPT Vienna, EPT Berlin, and EPT Monte Carlo in April. Happy Year of the Dragon and see you guys on the felt!