Archive for January, 2008

In LA for the LAPC

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Home. It’s something I struggle with frequently as I hop from one continent to another. I now live in London, still have my condo in Las Vegas, hope to get back to Vietnam soon, and am back in LA. Sometimes, I’m not sure where home is for me anymore.

In terms of my poker, LA and Commerce are always special. I feel rejuvenated just being back here. Commerce is where I learned the most about poker, where I spent my time playing LHE then tournaments. Many people say that Commerce has the toughest players in the world. It is an aggressive game for sure, and the players there forced you to constantly focus and play your best.

Commerce is also where I’ve had some of my greatest tournament success, especially the last two LA Poker Classics. I took down my first tournament there two years ago then followed it up with another win last year. I took last January off, and I think it really helped me play my best. I’m doing the same this month, taking some time to rest and prepare. I’ve passed on a few very interesting opportunities just to be sure I had time to play and get ready.

I really don’t know what to expect at the LAPC as far as the number of players and size of the prize pools. For the pros, there are more tournaments being played all over the world. There also are less sponsorships available to players. I’ll be very interested to see how the fields look when they get started.

Right now, I’m planning to play in the larger buy-in events. Here is the schedule:
Event #11 (2/4) $1k NLHE
Event #13 (2/6) $545 NLHE Turbo 6-max
Event #14 (2/7) $1.5k NLHE
Event #15 (2/8) $1k LHE
Event #16 (2/9) $1k NLHE Shootout
Event #17 (2/10) $335 NLHE $250k Guaranteed
Event #18 (2/11) $2.5k NLHE
Event #19 (2/12) $1k NLHE
Event #20 (2/13) $2.5k LHE
Event #21 (2/14) $545 NLHE Tag Team
Event #22 (2/15) $2.5k NLHE
Event #23 (2/16) $1.5k LHE
Event #26 (2/19) $545 NLHE
Event #27 (2/20) $1.5k NLHE
Event #28 (2/21) $1k NLHE
Event #29 (2/23) $10k WPT Main Event

Even though I’ll focus on the larger buy-in events, the smaller ones should have some big crowds. First prize for the first $335 NLHE tournament last year was over $110,000. Check here regularly, and I’ll keep you up to date on when I’ll be playing and how I do.

I can’t wait to get started!! Cheers!

Aussie Millions Down Under

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Well, my trip to Australia was eventful but for all the wrong reasons. It was a quickie, and after I busted out, I wished I could get out of there even quicker.

Most people I know say they would love to go to Australia, but few people really understand where Australia is. It is a long, long, long way from Las Vegas. It took me 24 hours to get there, and believe me I felt every hour. I slept a good bit on my flight, but even so I was worn out when I arrived in Melbourne. I was supposed to head to the Poker Room when I landed, but I didn’t have the energy to go down. So I just chilled and relaxed my room the first day.

After waking up from a much needed nap, I called my good friend Shannon Elizabeth to see what she was up to. We decided we’d do a bite of sight seeing, and that’s what we did the following morning. We were out of the hotel by 11am and took a long walk down to the morning market to watch one of Shannon’s friends doing a live performance with his band there. After that, we spent another few hours just walking around, having a blast and exploring the city of Melbourne.

There were 780 players at the Aussie Millions, and the field was broken into three groups to start over three days. The hospitality was terrific the entire time I was there, but I think they’ve outgrown the facility for the tournament. The tables were crowded, and I happened to take my seat in the 1s with my back literally up against the railbirds. I played on Day 1A, and I always try to play the first day of big events. I had the strangest feeling before my play though. Call it a woman’s intuition or whatever you want, but I just felt like it wasn’t going to be my day. On PokerListings, I wrote about a message I’d sent to my brother a few hours before play started: “I’ll be playing the main event here in about 4 hrs, but I don’t have a good feeling about this event. It’s just a gut feeling!! I still have to play it anyways though.”

I lost a big pot early with queens on a 10-9-6-9-4 board (he had 10-9). I then picked up aces and had a bizarre situation occur. The blinds were 50/100, and the 8s made it 275. I was on the button in the 1s, and I said “Raise” and tossed out a 500 chip. He called, and the dealer gave me back 50. I questioned the dealer, she told me I’d made the minimum raise, we got the floor over, Matt Savage ruled the 8s needed to put out another 50 to call, three other floor people came over, then they told us that the 8s could either call another 50 or take his bet back and muck. Sorry for the run-on sentence, but it was a bit of a blur just like that! By this time, the guy in the 8s had decided that getting his 175 back and mucking his cards was a pretty good deal, so that’s what he did. I mucked my cards and raked the pot, but I was still frustrated to see my aces wasted like that. Every hand is important in a tournament, and this one could have been a big swing for me.

I tracked the floor people down, and they told me that the dealer had told the 8s the raise was to 450. They said that this was the error, and that the player had the right to call or take his chips back. I understand the ruling, but it makes it no less frustrating for me. I ended up going out with two pair on a Qc-Jc-9d-As board. My A-Q was up against Kh-10h, and I didn’t catch my boat. I wanted to have a great run, and flying this far for such a quick exit made it all the more difficult to take.

So there I was, out of the Aussie Millions and sitting in Melbourne. When you think of Australia, most people think of the beautiful beaches of the Gold Coast, the city life of Sydney, or the huge wasteland of the Outback. Melbourne isn’t really like any of this. It is a smaller city that was bustling with the Australian Open tennis championship in full swing. Many of the players were staying at our hotel, which made the stay unique. It’s a slower paced city than you would find in Europe or the US.

After busting out of the main event, I was able to get a flight Thursday out of Melbourne through New Zealand to LA, and then back to Vegas. Another brutal series of flights, but finally I’m back in the States.

I’ll be heading back to LA in a couple days to spend some time with my Mom and focus on cash games at the Commerce until my next trip to Paris. I would like to thank everyone for all the kind words and best wishes, I really appreciate it! Until next time everyone. Cheers!

Happy Late New Year’s Everyone!

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

I’m literally rushing out the door on my way to Melbourne and the Aussie Millions, and I wanted to get a quick post up. It’s been a busy holiday season since my last post. I bubbled in the Five Diamonds Main Event at the Bellagio. Frustrating to get close to the money, but I’m always trying to go deep in a tourney rather than squeak into a cash.

One of the big treats for me was being featured in a French documentary on M6 Capital – Poker – I think it came out great, even if I don’t really understand French :-). It has a great scene where I move all-in during a key hand on my way to the Final Table of the APPT Macao event, taking down a massive pot. I hope I can be part of other features like that.

My two final tables in Macao plus the bubble at the Bellagio give me a great deal of encouragement heading into the Aussie Millions. As I’ve gotten busier outside of poker and traveled more, playing poker has changed a bit for me. It takes a different type of focus and concentration to play my best when I haven’t been playing all the time. I actually get very excited now when I sit down at the table; it is sort of a gift to me to be able to grab chips in my hand and splash pots.

All of the rhythms and sounds of poker come back quickly once I get started, but I am trying to make sure I am mentally, physically, and spiritually prepared to be at my best. I’ll be in the air for almost eighteen hours once we take off from LAX, and it is always grueling to fly that far for that long. I’m getting better at it, but I have to land and be ready to perform very quickly. I think I’ll be ready to battle, and there should be many top pros making their way for the Main Event. This is one of FullTilt’s signature events, and most of their pros will be there. I’ll be ready.

I’ll be updating my blog much more frequently than I have in the past, so check here often. I’ll post next from Down Under in Melbourne. Wish me luck!