Tag Archives: Toronto

Xuan Liu Easy Game Poker mini-doc

8min “Easy Game” mini-doc from PokerListings.com

Matt Showell and Alex Konyves from Pokerlistings followed me around Toronto for a few days to film this 8 min mini-documentary.

I had a great time through the entire process and think they captured my personality really well. Hope you’ll enjoy it too!

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Feelings

I am back in my Toronto, currently looking for another lease even though I was only at my last condo for ~3 months last year. I really do intend on spending more time at home if I can help it, especially with so many new live Canadian stops and Full Tilt coming back soon. The WSOP was a stressful time and there are definitely things I would do differently next year. It was my second real World Series and I earnestly tried to focus only on poker but there was no escape from the noise and pressure to mold my own identity in this world. I will always be true to my values and remain stubborn in many of ways, but with recognition comes an interesting set of responsibilities that isn’t always natural for my personality. I felt bad and still do because I put a lot of strain on my interpersonal relationships when I questioned people’s motives out of my own insecurities this past summer.

My dad and stepmom came to visit me and had a great time, as did my best friend Huyen and her Nick. It felt great to be able to show them the different facets of Vegas and I was proud to finally give them a glimpse into my lifestyle. I was also obnoxiously sick just from being in the dry desert and being exposed to violent AC so of course I felt guilty for the tournaments I had missed and stressed myself out even more trying to make up for it. Some sweet stuff did happen though. Simon, Dom and Vanessa won a bracelet, and I still do have that Stud 8 final table. I also got an Ipad and a sweet massage at the tables for my birthday.

It was a great WSOP for women and although I feel the glory from being a girl and am very happy for every one of these ladies, I think it’s also alright to admit I’m jealous. It’s not malicious, it just comes from my competitive drive since it makes me feel like I need to work harder and set the bar higher for myself. It’s really an exciting time for players of every demographic with the predicted “second renaissance” of poker and this is a trend that is here to stay.

WPT Parx and EPT Barcelona are next on my schedule. These are exciting times because I will be doing some footage for WPT’s “Ones to Watch” segment so I will do my best to give them some impressive results. I am also honoured to have been selected to be a member of the inaugural EPT Player’s Council. The first meeting is at EPT Barcelona which was also my very first EPT stop on my first trip to Europe in 2010. It’s a beautiful city and I can’t wait to stay by the beach at the Hotel Arts!

WSOP again

I’m here in Vegas during the WSOP and finally have a day off to update. I should have chronicled all my adventures in my last Europe trip to Vienna, Berlin, Dublin, and Monaco, but SCOOP immediately started when I returned home to Toronto and when I’m at home I want downtime!

The non-poker aspect of the Euro trip was amazing, and despite the poker aspect not being monetarily rewarding, it was a good trip for the development of my game and career. I stayed focused, ate well, worked out, rarely drank, and played my top game in tournaments and cash throughout the entire 5 weeks abroad, including the Party Poker Premier League Playoffs and some 100/200 mixed in Vienna.

After the Grand Finals I went to Aruba for a much needed getaway and met the talented WPT Boot Camp crew. I played a few random days of SCOOP in Toronto after that and was up a bit overall but mainly just went to the gym a ton and pigged out on home-cooking afterwards in preparation for a long summer in the desert. It’s now two weeks into the series and I feel like my efforts have already paid off and my chances of a bracelet are still very much alive. I have been playing and going deeper in the mixed events, including a final table in the $1500 Stud8. Coming that close to a bracelet only makes me want to work harder, especially since I made a silly error misreading my hand at the final table! Right before I lost an extra bb for misreading that I had a low on 7th in a crucial hand, I was telling my amazing rail how anxious and nervous I was. I have to learn how to function better under pressure. Anyone have any good advice for this? I feel like I can never play my A game when when people are paying attention, which is really depressing because all the money in tournament poker is made at the final table.

I’m staying with the charismatic Maridu at the coveted Panorama Towers. I’m rarely ever here with my long work hours but she keeps me optimistic and rightfully excited for what’s to come. In her words, nothing ever phases me. I am, however, looking forward to my dad and my stepmom visiting me in less than two weeks, as well as my best friend and her boyfriend in early July. It will be there first time travelling further than Niagara Falls to watch me play poker! It’s been a record-breaking WSOP for women, but there’s still plenty of hardware up for grabs so I won’t be slowing down any time soon.

Sleepless Rant

I’m awake at 5am for the third night in a row. The first was deliberate, as I had an early morning flight to catch back to Toronto from Vegas. I thought the second restless night was due to my discovery of a Dominion app, which kept me up between 3:30 and 11am. Tonight I am certain something’s awry because I am exhausted but my heart is beating like a hammer as I lay in bed after a 30min nap at 4am.

This is going to sound super cheesy, but I think I’m a little anxious my life is currently going so well. It wasn’t too long ago when I made the conscious decision to be happy, and things are falling into place so very nicely in pretty much every facet of my personal and work life. I was very directionless with an unsteady foundation of self-esteem at one point. I’ve read dozens of “self-help” books in between my poker literature and have gone on various forms of self-exploration. I think I’ve come a long way, and the mission now is to make this trend sustainable.

My trips to Vegas and Cali were probably the best I’ve ever had. No poker victories in the three tournaments I played, but a lot of enjoyable downtime hanging out with people I’m glad I got to know a little better. I’ve always had mixed feelings towards L.A., but the weather and food tends to make me forget all the bad stuff. We were lucky enough to stay in a guesthouse in the Hills and wake up to dogs running around and roses outside our window, far away from the Commerce noise.

It was also my first time in San Jose, and I was quite impressed by the standards at Bay 101 and the hospitality of the staff. I may be a tad biased since I was spoiled and felt a little out of place on a private jet along with some of poker’s finest, but honestly, the tournament was so much fun to play and even just to be around. I couldn’t get much going at the feature table with Elky, Jason Mercier, Nick Grippo, and 3rd place superstar Floes, but I’m satisfied with my play without a hand all day. I also signed my first autograph! His name was Mark and he had two glossy photos of my EPT and PCA final table shots. I’m sure he has a collection of pro portraits, but it still made me kind of giddy inside.

I also had a lot of fun in Vegas. We drove an hour through the desert to Mt. Charleston to snowboard. Microclimates are cool. I’m still a noob who makes a lot of mental errors, but I’m starting to have a lot of fun off my butt and am pretty impressed by my own progress. I hit my head really hard which was scary, but the permanent damage is probably comparable to a night of heavy drinking. I also left a nice ~$350 tip in the rental jacket pocket. The next day we went hiking at Red Rock. Not gonna lie; I totally got dragged into it. My tailbone hurt and I wasn’t sure about messing with mountains two days in a row, but I was glad I did by the time we were lying down sunbathing up top.

I want to get in top notch shape before WSOP. I’ve already solicited the help of my good friend Seok (who just had an Epic Meal Time themed party) as a personal motivator. I don’t think I have too many insecurities about my body. My physique and workout regimen fluctuates and I enjoy playing sports and staying active in ways that don’t involve me feeling like a hamster on a wheel. I just want to consistently be able to perform at my best, since poker is by and large a game of mental and physical stamina. It won’t be easy, since I love food very much. We didn’t grow up with much, but my grandma always told me that everything can be compromised, except a good meal. I think publicizing this goal will help me stay on track.

Alright, time to try to sleep again. My pending schedule for the next few months: Toronto, WPT Vienna, EPT Berlin, EPT Monte Carlo, PPC Aruba, Toronto, WSOP. My lease in Toronto expires in May so it’s also time to figure out where I want to live next. An epic cross-Asia trip sometime after the series is also in the works.

Good night and sweet dreams.

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.

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.

Update pre-WSOP

I’ve been back in North America for roughly two months now. I’ve readjusted to Westernized living, went on a road trip with my sis, lost some friends while simultaneously reconnecting with old ones, and had several of my accounts hacked, all while attempting to study for my next CFA exam in June and preparing for the World Series.

China seems like a blur. I still miss a lot of it, but am having trouble remembering why. That’s a characteristic about myself I’m not crazy about. I can connect and disconnect with people and places so easily it feels rather superfluous. Besides basic necessities, I feel as if I can adapt to anything and nothing really phases me anymore. This isn’t to say I don’t appreciate what I have or that I won’t miss something if I were to lose it. Some may regard this as being jaded, but I’d like to think that this is what makes me very human. After all, isn’t it our adaptability that makes us more advanced than other species?

Anyhow, so Anny and I took a road trip to Montreal so she could visit the McGill campus and make a more educated decision on what college she should attend next year. Unfortunately, I left my blackberry on the stupid bus and have been playing phone tag with the lost and found department for some time. This may or may not be a good thing since I don’t feel very social these days anyway. I remember when I was still in school I used to adore Montreal so much. I thought it was vibrant and eccentric, with a lot more character than plain old Toronto. On this trip however, my sister and I agreed that the city kind of felt a little trashy. Funny thing is, I don’t think it’s the city that changed. Anyhow, I hope Anny ends up making a solid decision for her future so I can start supporting it, whatever it may be.

Back "home"

I am now in monotonous Toronto, having just finished an average breakfast and ready to go work off the pounds I’ve gained from Tianjin’s incomparable meals. My mother is still bickering incessantly about my upcoming exam and finding a real job, a husband, and buying my first home. In other words, there is still very little here for me, and soon enough, I can see myself living very far away, where the people are friendly, the costs are low, and the food always tastes good.

I am very stressed atm, as I feel like I have a ton of pressure on me in the next few months. I want to prepare and plan for WSOP, but I have to retake CFA in early June and will have to put hundreds of more hours into studying. I am also setting up an online business for my stepmom, hoping she will gain financial autonomy and eventually be able to work full-time from home. In China I was euphoric and felt blessed to be where I am with myself, but here I am lonely, unadjusted, and a social anomaly. I don’t even know where to begin to take care of everything, and have just been grinding mindlessly in a subconsciously tilted state.

At least the weather is getting nicer and the company of my sister is helping. When I was in Tianjin I saw family I hadn’t seen for 17 years. Everyone was so accommodating and for the most part I felt like I was able to return the favour by being a good guest. Being there during Lunar New Years was especially crazy; for over two weeks the vibe was bustlin’ and fireworks went off day and night on the streets and sidewalk. It was festive even though it sounded like battle explosions and didn’t allow for any sleeping in. It was great to bond with my cousins and for me to imagine what I’d be like if I never came to Canada. My eldest cousin, Rui, is a total G. She’s so socially adept and knows exactly what to say to whom, knows the ins and outs of Tian Jin and has guanxi (connections) in every niche. I stayed with her family and she took me around everyday for three weeks without a dull moment. Her friends are absolutely hilarious and so entertaining to the point where when we go out to eat after clubbing or ktving, the servers and staff would stand around our table and eavesdrop like it was a sitcom. She’s getting married in August (which she amicably refers to as doomsday), and I can’t wait to go back for the festivities. My second cousin has been living in Yunnan (a laid-back tropical province in China) the past few years, doing her Masters while running a bar on campus with another business on the side. I’m envious of Rui’s extrovertedness, but I was more comfortable and bonded better with Juan (hard J, not “h”). She was very independent, more reserved, and super witty. My last cousin who’s a few months older than me (I’m the youngest) is already married and recently had a baby girl. His wife is beautiful despite the extra pounds from the pregnancy, but he’s still a total player. He and his wife would go out in a group together and he’d send her home to stay out with his buddies to find “xiaojie” aka PR girls/hookers. The girls in the family used to make fun of him a ton when we were kids because he had a different last name. In Chinese culture he is traditionally deemed to be less important in the Liu family because he carries the last name of his father rather than my aunt. Regardless, he was still spoiled since he was the only boy in our generation and got a ton of special treatment from our grandparents.

On my trip back I also helped give birth to puppies! Rui’s poodle Dou Dou was pregnant when I was living there and I become one of the only people she’d let close to her pups. They were so adorable and my dad seriously considered bringing one back with us to Toronto. My stepmom isn’t very fond of animals so we decided against it. I would prefer a bigger dog anyway.

I can definitely see where I get some of my personality from. Did I mention our entire family are big fish? In a drinking sense, that is. 白酒,literally “white alcohol”, is a common Chinese liquor with alcohol content between 40-80%. It’s nasstttttty, and the men in the family drink copious amounts of this stuff with every meal. My first few days with relatives were relatively tame as they were unsure of what to expect from me. The first time I went out drinking with my cousins they were worried I couldn’t handle my liquor. I was ecstatic that they could keep up and definitely bonded exponentially after that.

I wish I could post all the details about every night we went out, but I feel like I should just make a conscious effort from now on to blog more frequently rather than wait a month and try to regurgitate everything that’s happened on another continent. I’ll just fast-forward to my Macau experience. My time in Tian Jin was hectic but I did manage to fit in ~30 hours of RUSH. I’m still kind of upset at myself for not being able to make a quality video before I left, but at the same time I’m also glad I didn’t unnecessarily make the field tougher than it has to be. I had a $100+ hourly in China though I was running above EV and have noticed the games becoming more competitive. My friend and I decided to meet up in Macau (he’d been living in China) for the Macau Cup and grind some cash. We were going to play the events regardless, but we played some qualifiers on Stars and were both able to win a Main Event seat. The one he won was value-added and had 2 nights of Grand Lisboa thrown in, so that was a nice bonus for us. I invited Rui to come with me as she had never been outside the PRC! It made me really happy to do this for her. I ended up playing tournaments all four days of the trip rather than grinding cash as expected. I made it deep in both the 200k gtd and main event, and for the most part poker was good. I was being mindful of the tournament strategies Alex had taught me, and for the most part I think I played pretty darn well. Event #3 200k gtd was a 2-day event that drew 190 entries and also my first live event of the year. It was nice to see the diverse backgrounds of the players and I felt like I fit right in as many of the players were Asian but also spoke English. At one point I was at the table with the PokerStars Asia pro Celina Lin. She is very pretty and doubtlessly charming with her Australian accent, and a class act as a rep of PS, but I couldn’t help but cringe when I noticed how vocal she was with her strategy and decision-making process. She openly discussed her thinking with her neighbour for everyone to hear and even during pots. Not in a Negreneau-type way, since it was much more about expressing her knowledge and critiquing plays rather than drawing reactions and tells. It made me very self-aware of the comfort I have gained in my own game, and also allowed me to acknowledge the depth of my jealousy towards this sponsored pro. Anyhow, the fields were pretty soft and I kept playing my own game. Before I knew it, it was day 2 and I was at the final table with cameras and camcorders hovering over my shoulders. It wasn’t a big cash, but it felt good nonetheless to make money in my first tournament in awhile.

Cash however, was a different story. The night after my final table and before my main event day1, I had a few hours and went to check out the 25/50HKD (6000max) side game. I was initially thrilled to see there were 5 tables running, but soon after I got there I realized it was all regs and one mainland fish everyone was gunning for. I thought about getting a table change right away, but decided against it since I couldn’t stay too long anyway and it’s not like the regs were good. Did I mention this was my first time playing live since L.A.?! I felt sooo good to be back at a live table, but it was

so

insanely

slow.

After the obvious fish got stacked I opened the table up and played a lot of hands successfully until I made an awful spewy play during a squeeze to a straddle and ran into KK. I soon realized basically no one is ever bluffing and they all play very straightforward, with the exception of excessive limping and calling any raise amount. Isolating was difficult since if one player calls five others will follow, but if no one calls even hands like AQ and TT don’t wanna play heads up. It was profitable for these regs because there were several teams of 2-3 players at any given table. There was no blatant collusion per se, but my reg neighbour got very friendly by the end of my session and gave me the scoop on the various players and how there were a few of them who never played without their friend sitting beside them. I thought it was wise to get up soon after that tip since it was getting late and although it sucked to finish my first session stuck I had to get up relative early for the tournament the next day.

Day 1b of the Red Dragon Event was a fun but tedious 12 hour day. The tournament drew 321 from all over, including two teams from Japan who were obnoxious at times, with one player who would get up and yell something along the lines of “Japanese pride” every time someone from his team won a decent pot, and get really in-your-face with his opponents. I have definitely seen better sportsmanship coming from Hellmuth. Anyways, I was also very impressed with the sheer amount of female players in the tourney. With five tables left I was drawn to a table with five other players aside from myself! Unfortunately I couldn’t pick up chips when i needed them and only played for 10 minutes of day two to finish a disappointing 24th. I think getting deeper would have pretty much sealed my decision to move to Asia. Anyhow, since I hadn’t had much time to spend with my cousin doing touristy stuff we explored a few temples and I treated her and Alex to Zaia, a Cirque du Soleil show at the Venetian.

Rui and I made our way back to Beijing finally after a delayed plane through Zhuhai, invited some friends, and spent my last night in China eating Peking Duck and partying at a club with a literal bumping dance floor. I was very sad to go indeed.