Archive for February, 2010

Frustrating LAPC

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

It was a quick day for me. I was out of the WPT L.A. Poker Classic in about two hours.

The first bad situation came on the second hand of the tournament. I was in the big blind with K(c)7(d), and I went to the flop with one caller who was in the cutoff position (Seat 9). The flop was 8(c)7(c)4(h), and when I bet 100, Seat 9 raised to 250, so I called. I checked the 3(c) on the turn, but when Seat 9 bet 850, I raised to 2K, and Seat 9 called. The river was K(d), and I bet 3K. Seat 9 called and showed 6(h)5(h) for the flopped straight, and my two pair were no good.

After ending Level 1 with 15K, I took the break and came back to a worse second level. The first big hand was when my pocket kings lost to A(h) 10(h) when my opponent flopped three hearts. Then the very next hand I tangled in another heads-up pot with Q(c)10(c). The Flop came 10(h) 3(s) 2(c) 2(s) ?. I checked, called $1100 on the flop, turn pairs the deuce, I pushed all-in for $5300, and got called with pocket jacks. River came a blank, so out I go!

I probably don’t have to say it, but I will. It was a frustrating day!

I left Commerce Casino not much in the mood for cash games or any more poker. I took some time to relax and plan a night out with friends. The next night, it came together when I headed out to West Hollywood for another girls night out with Shannon Elizabeth, Cheryl Burke, and some other friends. We did it right, with bottle service and the works, and simply hanging out with friends allowed me to forget about the LAPC and enjoy what’s more important – good friends and knowing that my life is good.

(at Voyeur Nightclub)

Cheers!

Ups and Downs

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I started the weekend with such a positive attitude, as I took care of business during the day and headed to Commerce Casino in the evening for the WPT Celebrity Invitational. And it was a blast! There was an entire red carpet set-up for the celebrity players, with media there from poker companies to entertainment television shows. The celebrities were everywhere, but what I was most looking forward to was catching up with Alex (my sponsor) who had also flown to LA to attend this event and had some business meetings scheduled to attend as well. Everyone socialized for a couple hours at the welcome party before sitting down in the poker tournament. I was running late and barely made it just in time before the event started. One of the first poker pro I bumped into was my pal Joe Sebok. And thanks Matt for the photos! 🙂

(photo courtesy of Matt Waldon)

The tournament itself was wild! Play was kind of crazy, as some of the celebrities and invited guests weren’t very skilled at the game. There were tons of all-ins, but the rebuys were good because all of the money went to Chrysalis, a charity to help the homeless and hungry in Los Angeles. In tournaments such as this, majority of the bets will get called to the river so playing skilled poker and attempting clever moves wouldn’t be a smart thing to do. I played a total of about probably 8 hands, knocked out two players and doubling my chip stack twice before busting on my third all-in hand.

(photo courtesy of BJ Nemeth)

My first double up was against Howard Lederer. All-in preflop with KK’s against Howard’s 88’s. Flops 8 A 3 Q K. My second double up was through actor Dave Annable when I rivered a set of 88’s against his A 6. Flops A 3 6 Q 8. (phew). And finally my bust out hand was 99’s against JJ’s. I called a re-raise from player with JJ’s preflop, then pushed all-in on the flop of A 7 4 and got called. Turn and river were blanks and out I go with about 15 minutes left on the clock before day1 ended.

(photo courtesy of Matt Waldron)

But it was late that night that I received word from my friend Quinn Do that his little sister had just passed away. It was absolutely shocking news… I was deeply saddened to hear of his loss.

My deepest condolences and heartfelt words to Quinn and his family.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. Although no words can really help to ease the loss you bear, just know that you are very close in every thought and prayer. May the peace which comes from the memories of love shared, comfort you now and in the days ahead.

Now I’m back in Las Vegas to handle some business matters but will be returning to Los Angeles later on today to see if I can do anything for Quinn and his family. I do plan to play the WPT L.A. Poker Classic Main Event as well, so I will try to balance the ups and downs of the week as best I can.

Please say a prayer or send a kind thought toward the Do family.

Cheers!

Good Times with Good Friends

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

I decided this week that I needed a serious night on the town in Los Angeles. I don’t often take the time anymore to go out with friends and leave my computer unattended, so I was overdue for a fun evening.

The night didn’t start the way I planned, though. I was on my way to Koi, a fabulous restaurant in L.A., for dinner with Shannon Elizabeth when I actually got into a minor car accident. It wasn’t too serious and no one was hurt, but it was startling anyway. Once the person in the other car and I exchanged information, we went on our ways, and even though I was a bit shaken by it, I tried to put it out of my mind and go on with my plans.

Dinner at Koi was amazing, but even better was the conversation over dinner with Shannon. We are so similar and have so much in common that we can talk for hours! It had been too long since we really had the chance to catch up with what’s going on in our lives, and it was very refreshing to be able to do it over dinner.

Then we headed over to Voyeur Nightclub, after we met up with Cheryl Burke (awesome dancer on Dancing with the Stars!) who is also a great person and a lot of fun to hang out with. The three of us danced, enjoyed the music, and laughed all night. Such a relaxing and fun evening on the town! What started out with a car accident turned into a great time with friends.

I really needed it and feel very energized and ready for the WPT Celebrity Invitational today! I’m off to have fun but play a good game. As you know, anything with charity involved gets me excited anyway, so being able to play a WPT event and know that rebuys are going to a great cause is a perfect combination. I’ll report on my progress through the weekend, so stay tuned and wish me luck!

Cheers!

Life Sometimes Gets in the Way of Poker

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

My plan was to come to L.A. last week and play the Monday tournament, but when I got to town the week before, life had other plans.

It started with a weekend call from my cousin in Vietnam. She told me that my aunt was in the hospital again but for an unknown reason. Of course this worries me and there’s nothing I can do from the U.S. except stay updated and make sure my aunt is getting the best care possible. Besides many phone calls to Vietnam, my weekend (and most of my week) ended up being filled with work and meetings, though I did fit in a quick trip to Rodeo Drive in L.A. to do a little shopping.

But poker was set aside for a few days, which means I didn’t play the LAPC preliminaries. The good part of that is that I’m saving my great poker for the Invitational and Main Event! 😉  I will be heading to Commerce Casino on Saturday for the red carpet welcome party and the tournament that starts in the evening, and I plan to play through the day on Sunday, too, on my way to the final table. Then I’ll take a few days off before the start of the WPT LAPC Main Event that starts next Friday. I’m still feeling great about my game these days, so I’m looking for great results at Commerce!

Speaking of poker, if you missed my last post, check out the information on the Chilipoker DeepStack Open coming up in April. Players are starting to sign up, and a lot of Chilipoker players are already winning their seats. This looks to be a great event!

In the meantime, I have to send out a BIG congratulations to my friend Quinn Do, who announced his engagement to Gale Mah earlier this week. I’m so happy for them! And it is refreshing to see love in the air – so positive and powerful. Wonderful to see Quinn has found his true soul mate!

(photo courtesy of Anh Van Nguyen)

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you will ever meet. They will come into your life to reveal another layer of yourself to you. Someone that will mirror you, show you everything that is holding you back … a person who will bring you to your own attention so you can change your life.

May your engagement be the beginning of a lifetime filled with special love & happiness!

Cheers!

France in April? Oui Oui!

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

This is very exciting news! I made mention of a trip to France in April, and this is what it’s all about. The Chilipoker DeepStack Open by Partouche will be taking place at the Pasino of Aix-en-Provence from April 9-11. Everyone is welcome to join, and the Main Event looks to bring players from all over the world with its €550 buy-in (and starting stack of 50,000 chips!).

I love the deep stack tournaments because the massive number of chips allows you to really build up momentum and take your time in the beginning stages of the tournament. It takes a little while to size up your opponents, get the feel of the action, and put your strategy into action. And having so many chips allows you to take a bad beat or two but still have a solid chance of playing on. When Chilipoker announced a DeepStack series, especially one that will take us to places like France, Ireland, Morocco, and the Czech Republic, I was thrilled!

The French stop on the Chilipoker DeepStack Open tour is open to all players. And for those looking to qualify, there are tons of opportunities on ChiliPoker.com, as online satellites will run through March 31st. There will also be live satellites running at Partouche Pasinos. Everyone has a chance to meet me there! But there’s no time to waste, as the tournament is capped at 500 players, so space is limited.

I seriously cannot wait to head to the Provence region of France in April, which should be a beautiful time of year there! Representing Chilipoker is a treat all the time, but when I get to spend time playing poker tournaments in places like the South of France, and in an event with such a great structure, I have to let everyone in on the opportunity to join me. Let me know if and when you win your seat, and I’ll see you in less than 2 months! 😀

Cheers!

Happy Chinese New Year & Valentine’s Day!

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

To everyone who celebrates it, Happy Chinese New Year! It is here and 2010 brings the Year of the Tiger, whose motto is “I win.” Coincidence? I think not! 😉

THE SIGN OF THE TIGER

Tigers do not find worth in power or money. They will be completely honest about how they feel and expect the same of you. On the other hand, they seek approval from peers and family. Generally, because of their charming personalities Tigers are well liked. Often, failing at a given task or being unproductive in his personal or professional life can cause a Tiger to experience a depression. Criticism from loved ones can also generate this type of Tiger reaction. Still, like all felines, Tigers always land on their feet, ready for their next act in life, pursuing it with unyielding energy and hunting it infallibly.

Tigers are also incorrigibly competitive – they simply cannot pass up a challenge, especially when honor is at stake, or they are protecting those they love. Tigers are unpredictable and it would be unwise to underestimate their reactions. They may appear cool, but they have the Big Cat’s instincts to pounce at a moment’s warning. Natural leaders, they have a strong sense of their own dignity, and if they find themselves in the ranks, they can be stubborn and obstinate. In positions of power they can be difficult though stimulating bosses. Tigers are intelligent, alert, and farsighted. They have their fingers on the pulse. Good strategists and tacticians, they often have a hidden agenda. As long as they do not risk their luck too often, and keep their restless nature under control, their tactics usually pay off in life.

In Vietnam, we celebrate the holiday called TET, which is our own Lunar New Year. The new moon last night helped ring in the Year of the Tiger, and the significance of that for me is that my zodiac sign is also the Tiger. The symbol of strength, courage, power, and fearlessness is something I’ve tried to incorporate into my life as much as possible, and as the Year of the Tiger begins, I can’t help but feel it’s my year. The last few years have been challenging ones for me, and to enter the new year with so much more understanding of who I am and what I can do with my life, well, it’s exciting!

The welcoming of the Year of the Tiger is a time to celebrate but also to think. As most people do when they ring in a New Year, I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals for the coming year and how I can not only better my own life but the lives of others. Of course, that will include more charity work in Vietnam and continuing to take care of my family. And to do that in the best way, I need to be the best person I can be, play the best poker of my life, and surround myself with good people. I don’t know what the year holds for me, but I can only try to make the most of it.

While I’m in L.A., celebrations will go on through the 18th in Vietnam. It is one of the times of the year I most wish I was there, celebrating at the Lam Te Temple where the spirits of my family – my father, grandmother and her husband – rest. But through spiritual connections, I am there.

To everyone, I wish you much happiness, prosperity, health, love, and peace in the Year of the Tiger!

And let’s not forget that today is also Valentine’s Day. It’s more than just a day for couples; it’s a day of love. So take a minute to let friends and family know that you love them, and if you’re alone today, treat yourself to something special. Sure, we should do these things every day, but maybe we can use Valentine’s Day as a starting point.

Essential Valentine

On Valentine’s Day we think about
Those matchless people who
Give extra meaning to our lives–
The very special few.

Without them, skies would turn to gray;
Things wouldn’t be the same;
Life wouldn’t be as colorful;
It would be a duller game.

And when I contemplate that group-
Friends and family who are mine,
I appreciate and treasure you;
You’re essential, Valentine!

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!

Cheers!

WSOPE Inspiration

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

After the Super Bowl on Sunday night, I switched over the ESPN2 to check out the coverage of the 2009 WSOP Europe. It was the first night of episodes from the beginning of the WSOPE Main Event.

It was an emotional time for me, back in September/October of 2009, as I had just completed the chapter of my life that involved fulfilling the two-year promise to my dad. I felt more peace than I knew was possible, with my father’s passing and my readiness to move on with my own life, and I was ready shift my focus to poker again. It also helped that I was so inspired by the two years worth of charity work and meditation that I was looking forward to putting my efforts into poker, where I can make money in order to do more charity in the future. It’s a wonderful circle!

The WSOPE was my chance to jump back into action, and it was amazing what a peaceful mind allowed me to do. I entered the Main Event determined to make a comeback, to start with a fresh attitude and all of my skills and mindset in order, which is what I did. I played my absolute best until Day 4 of the tournament, where I found myself card-dead and unable to continue the momentum. Day 4 and a 22nd place finish was the end of my journey. It wasn’t a final table, but I was really happy with my play and my deep run in a tournament that features some of the greatest players in the world. To finish 22nd out of a field of 334, where Daniel Negreanu and Barry Shulman were the last two players standing, was a great accomplishment!

More than anything, the WSOPE finish let me know that I was excited about poker again. I was not only confident in my abilities at the tables, but I was ready to get back to focusing on business, poker, and life. Though my father remains in my thoughts always, keeping my promise to him and completing that heartfelt journey allowed me to move on to the next phase of my life. The London event was just the first step, and it was fun to watch the coverage on ESPN2 as I prepare to head to L.A. for the LAPC.

Lesson learned? I’m BACK! 🙂

Cheers!

Preparing for the LAPC

Monday, February 8th, 2010

Since my last blog post, I’ve been crazy busy with travels and meetings. Someone asked me yesterday where I was at the moment, and I actually had to think about it for a minute! I can never seem to stay in one place too long, but the L.A. Poker Classic will change that soon enough.

The plan is to be in Los Angeles by Wednesday to start playing the tournaments at Commerce. Besides my work schedule, I’ve been waiting for the higher limit buy-in events to begin. I hope to start playing later this week in some preliminary events, then of course play in the WPT Celebrity Invitational and the LAPC Main Event. I usually stay in L.A. longer and play the cash games, but I’m very focused on tournaments right now, and the opportunities at LAPC are too great to pass up. So look for me at either the final tables 😉 or the high stakes cash games this year!

The past month was so busy that I unfortunately had to miss the Chilipoker Deepstack Open Dublin 2010 ME, but I will be heading back across the ocean during the second week of March for a fantastic 2 days televised cash game event in France, sponsored by Chilipoker. Any pros interested in playing a 25/50 NL game with 10k min buy-in then give me a shout. 🙂

Congratulations to Frederic Brunet on his excellent performance, becoming this years champion in the Chilipoker Deepstack Open Dublin 2010 ME.

Among one thing that came through in the last month for me was the cover story for the February issue of Baller Magazine. I’m pleased with the cover photo, and in the article I was able to discuss my life in poker and my dedication to charity.

As my schedule settles down a bit and I focus on the LAPC, I plan to blog more often and let everyone know what’s going on in my life. 2010 still looks to be a great year, and I’d love for you all to be able to share it with me.

Cheers!