My first cover! Poker Pro Canada Dec 2012
Xuan Liu on making history for women at the PCA – PokerStars Blog
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!
Apparently many people blog more often when they’re winning. I like to rant when I finish really awful sessions. Therapeutic or simply reinforcing negativity in my head? Not certain yet. It especially sucks cause I’ve been on vacation for the past week, itching to play, and I fail miserably when I finally get back to the tables.
I began the day by reminding myself how lucky I was. I have the freedom and capacity to do things I adore, have (for the most part) supportive friends and family, and all my loved ones are healthy and content. Vegas, L.A., and San Diego with the fam was amazing as I got to show my mother places and attractions she would probably otherwise never have the motivation to see, and it felt really damn good doing something for them. It has truly made me want to work harder to put more smiles on their faces.
Maybe it’s all the coffee, tea, and energy drinks I consumed trying to stay awake for the tourny, but I was only able to sleep for 2 hours before I had to go downstairs to feed my belly. Oh, and I only had a muffin and apple to eat yesterday, which made my usually bland seafood rice noodle soup taste wonderful. I was debating whether to play or not, but instead I decided to try this new self-management thing and came back upstairs to clean my suite instead. This new age thing better work!
I have to admit I’ve always been quite messy and unorganized. Perhaps I’m just making excuses (again), but I think it may have to do with my unstable lifestyle since I was very little. I was constantly on the road traveling between my parents’ places and I just never got into the habit of being tidy because I never stayed at one place long enough to become settled. I’ve always had this “what’s the point?” mentality, but now that I am older I can definitely see the theory behind orderly self-management as a reflection of inner productivity. I’ve never really had much incentive to change my messy ways, but I’d like to think that I’ll never be too old to change for the better when the motivation is there.
Slumdog Millionaire is my most recent two-thumbs-up flick. A heart-touching hollywood/bollywood tale of a boy with a seemingly written destiny; every milestone of his life brought him closer to a single goal. It has a really great screenplay and makes you feel good inside whether you believe in fate or not. I’d like to think that a lot of my past decisions have brought me closer to poker lol. My memories of my grandma on my dad’s side in China was almost purely those of her playing Mahjong, and I took every opportunity to annoy adults with stupid questions. I’ve known my poker hands since I was about 5, and played variants of Big2 with my other grandma and my cousins for as long as I could remember. I used to watch God of Gambling movies over and over when I visited my dad on some weekends, and I was beating adults in connect-5 and GO into the wee hours of the morning every week when my mom and stepdad threw parties. I was a worthy competitor to national junior chess champions, and though my high school years were more about survival than gaming, I soon found myself waiting outside the casino for an ex-boyfriend while he played Hold’em when I was 17, and getting into the game itself in the first year of college. I visited Atlantic City for the first time when I was 18 and though I wasn’t allowed to play anything, I was absolutely intrigued by the atmosphere and seemingly limitless potential of the gambling underworld. I started playing 2-5 at Brantford casino, a 30-minute drive from school right when I turned legal (an academically detrimental decision that costed me 2-4 days a week). For the first 3 years of college when poker blew up, I was making change online off SNGs and low limit hold’em, running a campus $1/2 game with partners, dealing and supervising at a charity casino in the summertime, and taking down local and school tournys. I took every opportunity to read up on the game and discuss strategies until my determination and drive to continually get better stalled when I ridiculously became addicted to Warcrack. When it became more difficult to win while duo-screening online poker and the MMORPG, I regrettably chose the latter. I then quit playing live poker for about a year around the time of a turbulent breakup (limited transportation and players I used to rob blind had bought a clue), and dealt at a couple of underground joints. It was during this time when a lot of players in the Waterloo community whom I was well acquainted through poker flourished ahead of the pack and are now highly-successful competitors in the field. Upon some supportive persuasion and limited options after retardedly not showing up to any finals one term, I moved to Niagara Falls and made a profitable living grinding the soft 5-5 ($500) game for a couple of months. I then went back to school to finish off my superfluous liberal arts B.A.
With my reinstated freedom, I have since then been on the road quite often coming and going where and when I please. This has proven to not necessarily be a good thing. I have gotten into a terrible habit of undervaluing money and making sub-prime lifestyle decisions. There are days when I absolutely crave more structure and perhaps even someone other than myself to answer to. This has been an incredible journey of self-discovery and I am incredibly thankful that I have made it thus far. I want to believe that I have reached an entire new level of my goal, where any further success can only be achieved when elements of self-actualization are present. I have an ego problem at times. It may be because I’m a girl in a male-dominated field, or I’m young, or because I know I am resilient and have overcome so many obstacles in the past that I think I can get out of any ditch. Poker is so awesome because it’s self-correcting. It’s my therapy. If I respect the game and its challenges, I believe it will treat me well in return, like it always has.
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.
I’m still here in the City of Angels getting my grind on at the infamous Commerce Casino. Been making efforts to maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle by getting some exercise each day before sitting on my ass for a dozen hours, but it can be a problem sometimes when my schedule is so messed up. The game is not as good as it was during the holidays, but there is still lots of pocket-lining potential after tweaking my leaks and making conscious efforts to develop my play.
A player made an interesting observation about the city of L.A. the other day. He was from out-of-town and commented about the weird “energy” that was at the Commerce, which I have since reflected on. The casino itself is in an industrial and predominently Spanish-speaking town about 15 minutes from downtown L.A. It is the world’s largest poker casino with over 200+ tables split into two main sections and with services you’d find at any high-end gambling facility, but it feels more like a chaotic sports arena rather than a high-roller’s joint. The players vary from complete noobs to bracelet-holding pros, and casual players consisting of fratboys to celebs and strippers. The tables are crammed into a grid with little room to maneuvre in between, which can make it difficult when there is a heirarchy of floorpersons, chiprunners, servers, porters, cocktail waitresses, masseuses, Blimpberry girls, candy girls, and railbirds fighting for legroom. The atmosphere is further characterized by a dizzying spectrum of noises from these parties with competing interests, so one can imagine that it can be more difficult than other places to stay goal-oriented. Ah, but it is a place that tests true character.
My friend Tri has been consistently encouraging me to work hard for the next 6 months after cramming some numbers, and he put my situation quite bluntly into perspective: I can either focus tirelessly for the next little while and accumulate an income equal to the top 5% of Canadian earners, or I could let my mind and eyes wander off and be distracted by the naturally temptation-inducing L.A. lifestyle as a young person. Q also constantly warns me of the common mistake of many poker players to get caught-up with too much partying in the city after moving there and being forced to return home. I will not let this happen so long as I still want to play. Yes, I do miss the unequivocal VIP treatment from my home casino and not feeling like I’m being thrown into a ring of ravenous vultures everytime I step into the pit, but I am stepping up and thinking long-term.
Sometimes I surprise myself thinking about how much I’ve changed since I was a punkass teenager. I’ve recently been experimenting with an ultra-aggressive gear that seems to instigate confrontation from dumb players. Well, dumb people would be more accurate. As I was trying to extract information when faced with a strange river bet as the preflop aggressor in a pot against a guy who was taking my style as a personal attack, this annoying girl who was attempting to flirt with everyone at the table started ranting about how I was taking a long time and directed a series of rude comments at me instead of simply calling time. I gave in to the pressure and folded my hand as the donk villain turned over a bluff. At this point, I confronted her rude behaviour and lack of etiquette, and the argument became quite heated as crowds were drawn. If this was years ago, I would not have hesitated to kick her ass to Beijing, and for the most part, I am proud of myself for handling the situation the way I did. I felt especially blessed when Tri came over to my table and started wrecking havoc by antagonizing the bitch and taking everyone out of their poker comfort zone (what he does incredibly well). Unfortunatly he lost to a rivered 1-outer (quads over boat) after putting her exactly where he wanted, but that did nothing to undermine the kind gesture just the same. I think it’s called the tranference of negative energy or something? lol. He ended up sucking out all the anger from me and took the burden instead.
My observation of L.A. based on my experiences thus far, is that this city is very spoiled and often ungrateful. The people are blessed with an amazing climate and fingertip access to the finest things in the world, and yet they appear to be bitter and unappreciative. It is also often depressing to watch the flock of older immigrants who appear to be the hardest workers in the casino with the general maintenance labour they do, but who also get paid the least since their line of duty does not include hustling for tips. As I have made myself familiar with the gratuity system here, I find myself creating excuses to tip these people and reward considerate behaviour from all the staff. I think it’s the little things that count. There is also a drastic difference between the mentality of a selfish employee and that of a benevolent one which can be observed in this simple illustration: after finishing my meal, I put a tip to the side of the table symbolizing that it can be cleared. A selfish floorperson who already hustles for tips comes over when he sees the coin and just pushes the table to the side while pocketing the money (it is not his job to clear tables), while on another occasion an infinitely more compassionate worker will call over a porter (who do all the dirty work) so he can work for that dollar instead. Perhaps example B was simply doing his job, but after seeing what he could have done, I was touched and tipped him as well.
I really hope I won’t turn into a bitch, but so far it appears that you need mighty thick skin to make it out here.
Ok so after having breakfast at the sports bar with a pint and trying to resolve Tri’s new year’s dilemma, we both sat down at the same $1500 table. We decided we would try to keep the heads up matches grounded to only small pots since it is rather silly to gun for each other when there are so many other worthwhile opponents in the game. He was up to his usual antics in no time (uber LAG supremo), so I mostly stayed out of his way until I realized he was stuck in 6th gear and needed a kick in the nuts to play some better poker. Being up a few hundred bucks and realizing pretty much every player at the table was gunnin for Tri’s money, I decided to get a table change and wound up beside the world’s drunkest asian player (he would make Scotty Nguyen look like a gentleman). He made things quite uncomfortable as he constantly leaned inches from my face every hand whispering broken drunken Engrish, but because he said nothing but nice things and tried to offer me advice on how the only way to make money at poker is to play squeeky tight, I decided not to be a poor sport and complain to the floorman. The table fluctuated between decent action and weak-tight uneventfulness, so I thought many times about getting a table change and even asked the supervisor for one that never got responded. I understand they work on tips and believe me, I am very generous if they go out of their way to help me, but I want to see that they are proactive and would prefer to reward them only after they have granted my request.
Anywho, so after a couple of hours of creating pots for myself from being card-dead and being forced to fold everytime I get played back at when making a move, I am hovering around even until I catch myself having to work way to hard to win pots and calling river bets super light from not reading the board properly. That’s definitely my cue to call it an even night, so I rack up my chips and was ready to leave when the guy to my right tells me I might as well see 1 more free hand. Meanwhile, a new player comes in at seat 1 (I am at seat 9), and appears to buy-in for $500. I recognize her as a dealer who often hangs out in the room after her shift, but have never actually seen her play before. On my last hand, LAG to my right blind raises, I call with 22 and 7 players end up in the $175 pot. Flop comes K72 all spades. I am not exaggerating when I say that within a span of 5 seconds, all 6 players check before I get a chance to process the board, at which point I had to announce to the dealer right when he was about to burn that I had not yet acted. At this point, the players who know what they’re talking about defend me profusely as they make jokes about checking out of turn really fast so players before you won’t get a chance to bet, while the donks who want a free turn tell me it was my fault I was not on top of the action. The floorperson gets called over, and even though the dealer chick apologized for checking out of turn and stating obviously that I had not acted, the retard who got trained by monkeys tell me it’s my responsibility to act and to stop the dealer before the burn is peeled. Note that the turn isn’t even out yet. I notified the dealer immediately when I realized he had skipped me (even he admitted this to be the floorperson and confessed it was his fault), and yet the 3 donks arguing for a free card get the benefit of the ruling. I am pissed and tell him he is ridiculously wrong, but am left with no contingency as he tells me the ruling is final. The turn is a brick 8. I replaced my rejected $100 bet into the pot and asian lady min-raises me to $200. Everyone folds around and I look over at her stack, still 3 piles of $5 for $300 and some change. I shove and she calls me with a flopped flush. River is a brick, and the dealer tells me I owe $600 something more. Before I could process what happened, she brings out a stack of white chips ($100’s) she had behind on the other side and I am stuck for the night on this life-tilt hand. Then I hear comments from the players about how she is known for checking out of turn for info and angle-shooting to maximize. WTF>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
I should have been more careful and made sure that she only had $300 left, but I was so heated and pissed off from all the donkey comments about me not being friendly and arguing to bet $100 on the flop that it did not even occur to me that she would have no other hand in that spot and did not realize how clouded my judgment was until it was all over. I stand up with a near empty tray welcoming myself to L.A. out loud as the guy to my right has the nerve to try to hit on me as I make my exit.
I’m hungry. Perhaps I will wait until after I am fed to divulge my most recent perspectives in this new and public blog (as opposed to the emo-rant-infested personal journals I am accustomed to scribbling in).