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!
2010 was an insane year of transitions. The tl;dr of my 365 days:
– Grinded a lot of RUSH and made a RUSH 6max $1/2 vid that never got launched (partially because I was too cheap to buy the full-version of Camtasia when I didn’t finish according to schedule). Paid for MTT coaching.
– Visited family in Tianjin, China, and rekindled with people I hadn’t seen for 17+ years. Had so much fun (and good food) I thought about permanently moving to Beijing.
– First time in Macau: not a very long trip and went there originally to play cash, but went deep in 2/2 events so didn’t have time. Grand Lisboa has sick rooms.
– Got everything hacked. Not fun. Mental game shot.
– Studied a ton for CFA exam, but not hard enough with poker (still) as a distraction.
– My first WSOP! Had own condo for a month and a half to grind cash. Rio was hit and miss but Venetian games were golden everyday. Won biggest pot of career of 1000bb at Caesar’s. Played 2 WSOP events, 3 VDS, 1 Aria 8game, and 1 Caesar’s main. Played a lot of 8-game online.
– Met a good man in a situation I wasn’t ready for.
– Made a vid for the Big Game. After the telephone interview (happened in Barcelona) I was told that if I don’t hear back from them til Jan it was a good thing…
– Took a leap of faith and became convinced playing liveaments was the way to go. Took a lot of reflection to make poker my #1 priority rather than just an auxiliary compromise.
– Fulfilled a dream of being a night/blood elf on Halloween. Costume was meh but it sure was fun reliving my ultimate nerd days.
– NAPT L.A: Rented place off Craigslist that didn’t end up having furniture, final tabled (no cash) 8game to a good start, some sick beats in others (e.g. flop straight on 7h5h3, get it in 100+bb deep vs. Ah7x who goes perfect perfect for a boat.) Didn’t feel significantly outmatched at any time which was a great enabler for my confidence. Sweated Van for 4th in the main in Compton, saw a Laker’s game and went to Disneyland.
– EPT Barcelona: My first time in Europe! Won mega satty and cashed in a side, got owned on first hand played in the main (review to come). Found a reliable roommate for the first time in awhile. Visited Gaudi’s spiritual/architectural gem; the inspiring/humbling/empowering experience will linger for a long time.
– IPT San Remo: lots of nomming of the pasta and pizza. First sense of loneliness on the road by myself. Binked mega satty and 1k side, got owned in main and ladies’. So far Italians in Italy are the friendliest people I have encountered.
– EPT Prague: Flew in right in time for 2nd level of the main and gave the eventual winner a lot of “positive vibes”. Prague is as beautiful as someone once dear to me described, but it’s even colder. Had lots of beef goulash and got hustled in Chinese. Went to a black metal bar and a strip club with midgets.
– Home for the holidays: was fortunate enough not to get stuck at an airport. It’s nice hermitting with family and eating home food. All caught up on Dexter, Bones, Modern Family, House, and my sister. NYE party was kinda nuts and became another friendly reminder to pour my own drink and not leave them unattended.
I joined a new gym today and was so exhausted when I came home i fell asleep super early so I woke up in the middle of the night and realized this was one of the only times I can force myself to blog. It’s just that on these trips I sometimes have to make an effort to be social all the time so when I finally have some time to myself I rarely feel like I’m in the mood to reflect publicly again. Hope that makes sense and doesn’t get misunderstood. I apologize if this post isn’t even a real post, but it will have to do for now. I don’t want to head off to PCA and kick myself for not blogging again.
Happy New Years, 2011 is going to be grand…
I have a bunch of notes on NAPT and EPT Barcelona, but that post will be pretty extensive and I desperately need to regurgitate after last night’s FTP Espana Grand Finale bust.
A circle of skilled players of various backgrounds had begun an e-mail thread discussing the advantages/disadvantages of min-raising from sb in bvb battles. The conversation evolved quite thoroughly and would qualify for premium content for any respectable poker column. I won’t go into any detail on the arguments presented, but I will leave you with a reflective response on my end:
M: “You keep your opponent in more of a controlled environment, that can make him/her easy to read. Things just get way too complicated when you add that extra dynamic of how
they will react to that min-raise. It just seems to me that people will play more predictably when you 3x it in that spot.”
When I read this initially I was in the middle of the tournament owning souls and was still pretty much on Derek’s side. By the end of the day half the table formed a pact to take turns retaliating against me by doing some ridiculous stuff. I realize this thread began as a discussion of bvb battle and I’ve always discounted the advantages of making easier decisions. I have to admit now that there is definitely some merit to staying under the radar, which includes not raising too small to instigate. I guess I had an epiphany of sorts after my bust last night. I can win the majority of pots I play vs. weak players, but as even the most unobservant players realize this, they will either play better, be more spewy, or at least take thinner edges to counter this – their defense may even be exponential if you are of the opposite gender. In most types of tournaments there is an advantage to having players play predictably against you, and allowing others to assume you’re playing predictably against them.
I realize my statement probably makes most of you guys think, “well duhhhh”, and although I call it an epiphany it’s really more like a deja vu after bouts of amnesia. (Perhaps D, this is why K and M have way better tournament results than you and I!) It’s better to approach most fields as a wolf in sheep’s clothing rather than someone who is clearly antagonizing.
Uber tired from almost no sleep and playing great for 10 hours before calling off my stack with a shit hand. argharghargh
I hate it when i get spewy b/c i think ppl are stealing more than they do and end up playing a huge pot when I’m super deep OOP on the bubble. Banning myself from tournys til I learn some more damn discipline.
1st LAPC tourny and quite excited to play. The turnout is insane and the vibe is surreal. Sitting second in chips at the table until chipleader went all-in on the turn with my 77 on A769 board vs. his A8. sigh 5. Pretty tilted atm but going downstairs to play some cash after I finish ranting. Arghargh.
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.