Archive for March, 2007

San Jose – Time With Poker, Friends, & Fans

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Well, I’m finally back from San Jose, and it was an interesting trip that developed into more than just a poker tournament!

I started out by playing in the WPT Shooting Stars tournament as a bounty player, which means that I’m one of the featured players, but I have a bounty on me. Anyone who knocks me out of the tournament gets $5000 and a t-shirt with my picture on it that I sign for them. But if I knock out another pro, I can get a bounty, too!

Bay 101 is awesome because of the tournament and how great they treat the players, but also because of the fans. As soon as I arrived at the casino, there were around 50+ people coming at me for autographs and photos! It was crazy! I stopped and tried to grant everyone’s requests, and it took me almost a half hour to get through the crowd and into the casino. I was quite flattered that so many people were excited to see me!

I started the tournament with an awesome hand in the first hour. My opponent, Ernie, moved all in after a flop of J-J-8. I called because I was holding J-10 and had flopped trips. He showed his club draw. Guess what came on the river… Another Jack to give me quads! What a way to start the day!

A few hours later, I was sitting on a decent stack, and David “Dragon” Pham moved all-in preflop with pocket J’s, and I called with A-10. The board came Q-9-7-A-4, and David was out. The kicker was that he was a bounty player, so I got $5000 for the elimination, and David had to sign his shirt for me that said, “I knocked out David “Dragon” Pham. Later, I found out that the WPT Live Updates team reported it as, “Dragon Slayed By The Diva.” Hee hee!

My solid stacks of chips soon went away slowly, and I was down to $16,000. On the board was 10(h) 9(h) 4(s) A(c), and I moved all-in with K-J – I had a flush draw and a gutshot straight draw. My opponent called with A-K for top pair, and the river was a crappy 2 of another suit. Boo! After a day of some great plays, I was gone. Again, let me say BOO!

I was ready to catch the first flight out the next day, but onef San Jose’s nightclub promoter called me and asked if I’d be interested in doing a special appearance at a local club called Vivid on Thursday night. Once we ironed out the details, the club started sending out flyers with my picture on it – quite cool.

I stuck around all week, just spending some quality time with my girlfriends and doing media interviews back at Bay 101. Then, on Thursday night, my friends and I headed over to Vivid, which ended up being a great time! The crowd was awesome, and I did a mini photo shoot. Thanks to Thai, Hailey, Ann, Huyen, and the rest of the crew for a fun night!

Now I’m back home in L.A. and back to work – at home and at the poker tables at Commerce Casino. And I have good news about 2 tournaments in May. I’ve been invited to play as a guest in both World Open III and Ladbrokes European Ladies Championship in London! I’m really looking forward to playing in these two televised events, as I have great respect for the folks at PartyGaming and Ladbrokes and can’t wait to return to London for more poker with the Brits. J

For now, I’m trying to enjoy being at home for a week and deciding if I want to go to Reno for the next WPT event. I have several travel opportunities at the end of this month, so I have to make some decisions…

I hope everyone is doing well, and I’ll blog more soon. Take care!

Back from England and Heading to San Jose – Whew!

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

I had a fabulous time in England! As you know from my last blog, I was there playing the Party Poker Premiere League at Maidstone Studios, and I won 6 points on Day 1…

Day 2 was a little different. In the key hand of the day, Tony G was to my right and made a raise to about 12k. I picked up AK(h), so I raised to 35k, and Andy Black to my left moved all in. Tony mucked, and I was pot-committed so I called. Andy showed pocket Q’s, I got no help from the board, and I was out in 5th place for 1 point. I had a total of 7 points so far.

Day 3 was rough because a little incident happened before the tournament that distracted me, and I was off my game. I didn’t play well and was the first one eliminated. No points. Boo!

Day 4 was different in several ways. For one thing, the interviewer on the previous day had commented that I wore white on the first three days in a row, so I came in on Day 4 in all black. I don’t know if that helped or not, but things went well! I’ll tell you about a key hand first because it was the best call I made in the whole series. I was up against Roland de Wolfe, who is a great player but ran bad during this series. He was to my left and made a medium raise; I was in the BB with 2-3 of hearts, so I called. The flop came J-3-blank, I checked with my bottom pair, he bet, and I called. The turn was a 7, and we both checked. The river was an Ace of spades, I checked, he bet 16.5k, and I took quite a long time to think about this one, using up almost all my clock time. I put him on a KQ hand . I finally went with my initial read and made the call, and he turned over K-10 for King high, and my pair of 3’s won the hand. My instincts were right on that day, and I went on to play heads-up against Kiril Gerasimov. Even though he was a 2-1 chip leader coming into heads-up play, I came back and won the match. That was 8 more points for a total of 15.

Day 5 was up and down for me, but I made some key laydowns that stick out in my mind. In one hand, Andy Black was in the SB, Kenna James was in the BB, and I limped in with Q-10. The flop came 10-4-Q, and we all checked. I was last to act and purposely checked the flop to slow play the hand since I did flop top two. The turn was a K, Andy bet 12k, and Kenna moved all in. Once again I took all of my clock time to think, and I felt really confident that Kenna had it, so I finally laid my hand down. I was playing the players during this whole day, and I felt that I read him well. When I was knocked out in 4th place, I went into the green room, and immediately asked about my Q-10 laydown. Kirill and Juha both told me I made a great laydown, Kenna had flopped a set of 4’s! Whew!! Even so, I made 2 points that day, putting me up to 17.

Day 6 was going to be a challenge. Most players had to get points that day to end up in the playoffs, so it was very intense! In the first match, I got heads-up with Eddy Scharf and came in 2nd place in that heat, picking up 6 points for a total of 23. I was 4th in the rankings going into the finals. Juha Helppi had to make 1st or 2nd in his heat and made it to 2nd, and with his points, I was knocked down to 5th in the rankings. I was going to have to play a heads-up playoff game the following day.

Day 7 was interesting because two women made it to the playoffs. I was up against Kenna James, and Vicky Coren was playing Andy Black. The structure was set up for the best 3 out of 5. I lost my first match to Kenna in 6 hands, but I won the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th matches in a row to put me in the finals with 230k. Vicky also went to the finals, so the table consisted of Ian Fraser, Phil Hellmuth, Vicky Coren, Juha Helppi, Eddy Scharf, and me. It lasted about eight hours with everybody starting out playing very tight. The first one out was Ian, then Vicky, and then me! Juha went on to win the final table, and it was also his 30th birthday. Congratulations, Juha! Everybody celebrated that night, then we went to London the next morning to play in a 24-hour live filmed cash game. I was so exhausted that I didn’t play except for the last 3 hours. You could read all the updates here.. through the eyes of Nicky O’Donnell, who did a fantastic job blogging this entire event.

Juha Helppi (FIN) $151,000
Eddy Scharf (GER) $91,000
Phil Hellmuth jr (USA) $65,000
Liz Lieu (USA) $43,000
Vicky Coren (ENG) $35,000
Ian Frazer (ENG) $35,000
Andy Black (IRE) $18,000
Kenna James (USA) $17,000
Kiril Gerasimov (RUS) $17,000
David ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott (ENG) $14,000
Tony G (AUS) $7,000
Roland De Wolfe (ENG) $7,000

Phil Hellmuth jr (USA) 350,000 chips
Eddy Scharf (GER) 310,000 chips
Juha Helppi (FIN) 260,000 chips
Ian Frazer (ENG) 250,000 chips
Liz Lieu (USA) 230,000 chips
Vicky Coren (ENG) 200,000 chips

Phil Hellmuth jr (USA) 35 Pts
Eddy Scharf (GER) 31 Pts
Juha Helppi (FIN) 26 Pts
Ian Frazer (ENG) 25 Pts
Liz Lieu (USA) 23 Pts
Vicky Coren (ENG) 20 Pts
Andrew Black (IRE) 18 Pts
Kenna James (USA) 17 Pts
Kirill Gerasimov (RUS) 17 Pts
David ‘Devlifish’ Ulliott (ENG) 14 Pts
Tony G (AUS) 7 Pts
Roland De Wolfe (ENG) 7 Pts

All in all, it was an incredible tournament with great matches, great plays, and a great time! Thanks so much to Stephen Pearson (my awesome agent), Party Gaming, Matchroom’s Eddie Hearns, Baijou, Neil Barrett, Warren Lush, and the entire staff. It was quite the prestigious event, and I was honored to be a part of it!

I left to return to L.A. the following morning. Right now, I’m trying to catch up on work and e-mails before my next trip which is coming up in a few days. I’m flying to San Jose, California for the Bay 101 Shooting Stars main event. I wanted to play in the event anyway, but I’m also one of the shooting stars, so that will make things more interesting! If a person knocks me out of the tournament (if I don’t go on to win the whole thing, which is my plan!), they evidently get the bounty that will be on my head and a t-shirt that says they eliminated Liz Lieu. Interesting, huh?

I’m looking forward to it, and I’ll try to give you updates from San Jose!