Posts Tagged ‘liz lieu’

The Nicaraguans Who Touched My Heart

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

What a trip!

I just returned this weekend from my trip to Nicaragua with Shannon Elizabeth for the Feed the Children organization. I have to say that it was different than what I expected. My usual solo trips to Vietnam involve truckloads of food that feed entire towns, and I’m always able to help out in numerous ways. This charity mission tied my hands a bit, as I was there with a bigger organization and couldn’t personally help as many people as I wanted. But, Feed the Children is very well organized and the volunteers know what they’re doing, so it was a different experience. And the good part was that I got to know some of the people in the villages better and on a more personal level than I usually do. And the two girls who touched us the most were a gift that I couldn’t have imagined being more gratifying or inspiring. Overall, it was an amazing trip!

Let’s start from the beginning…

A few us of in the large group that was going were on the same connecting flight to Managua, including Ace Young, Ryan Young, Drake Bell, Thomas Scriven, Chelsea Staub and her girlfriend Kelly. We got there on the evening of the 10th and were escorted to the VIP lounge and was assisted with immigration and customs, which took about 30 minutes. We each had a separate private vehicle outside for each of us, and our group had about a dozen security guards surrounding us at all times. (We weren’t going to the safest parts of the country after all.) We arrived at the hotel, and I went to meet with Emma and the documentary production crew. Shannon didn’t arrive until an hour and a half later, but I shared with her our information about the girls we were to meet the following day. I was exhausted, though, and I had been feeling sick for two days, so I went to my room to get some sleep.

But there wasn’t much time to sleep, as we had to get up by 7:30am and be ready to leave the hotel by 9:00am. We were again greeted by private cars because each of us had different missions to do that day. It took about 40 minutes to get to the home of the two sisters that Shannon and I were to visit, and once we arrived, we had to park at the bottom of the hill because the dirt road leading to their house was full of huge potholes. We left the car behind and walked up the hill to meet the girls in the town of villa Nueva. Luckily, we had a translator with us because the family didn’t know a word of English, and we didn’t know much Spanish.

We entered their tiny, hot, stuffy, shack that was quite dirty but it was their home. They showed us around and told us about themselves and their lives, though some of the information we got from the Feed the Children organizers before we went to see them.

Luz Marina Sanchez was 11 and Yahoska Sanchez Perez was 13. The adorable girls were both in the fourth grade and went to school in the evenings because their days were filled with keeping house, running errands for the family, and taking risks in the dangerous streets just to take care of the family and village. The girls also spent time collecting aluminum cans from the streets and exchanging them for a little extra money for the family, and sometimes they went door-to-door selling bread to the villagers for money. They lived with their aunt, Dona Maria Luisa, who took them in eight years ago because their father died and their mother was under psychiatric care. The extended family all lived together, and with a cousin expecting a baby, there was going to be ten in the family, all living in a small hut made of sticks, old scraps of wood, and flattened tin cans. The aunt’s son-in-law was the only person working in the family and supporting all of them.

The situation immediately touched my heart because Shannon and I got to know the sisters, who were just the sweetest girls! We asked them about their lives - what they liked and disliked, what they wished for, etc. It was mostly Yahoska who did the talking; she was quite brave and talkative, while Marina was shy at first but eventually warmed up to us. They told us a lot about their lives. And when we asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up, Yahoska told us she wanted to be a lawyer. (Great goal!) Marina said she wanted to be a doctor, and when I asked her what kind, she said a pediatrician! I already had a vision in my mind before she said it of her as a pediatrician, which comes from the fact that I love children so much, but when she said it I almost fell off the bed! I felt an instant connection with little Marina.

At one point, we had a sad moment when Yahoska put her head down and sadly told us that she wished she could get a proper education so she could be what she wants when she gets older. She told us that she wanted to provide a better life for her family, be able to buy medication for her mom that would make her better, and keep her family from suffering. Then she pointed to the roof and said that their home was collapsing. (It was true; the wooden pole that held up the roof was moldy and weak.) They told us how they even sometimes sell their clothes for money just so they can eat.

We asked them about their parents, and they said their dad was out, as if they didn’t even know that he was dead. They referred to their caretaker aunt as their mom, who didn’t seem like a warm, loving person to us. But no matter what, when we asked them if they felt happy, they both smiled these huge smiles and said “Yes!” Knowing what a hard life they lead, their enthusiasm about being happy girls was even more touching.

After more than an hour of chatting with them, we got to surprise them with something from the Make-a-Wish Foundation. They delivered bunk beds for the girls, as well as school uniforms and school supplies. We told the girls we had a surprise and we told the girls to close their eyes and cover them with their hands. We led them to the front of their shack and showed them the bunk beds with new mattresses, and they got big smiles on their faces. They seemed happy but not as happy as we hoped! They both got on the bed and felt it, and Shannon and I went over to check out the mattresses, which looked more like bean-bag comforters than mattresses. We were a little disappointed, but we would try to change that later. But the girls were happy enough, and as we went to leave, Yahoska ran up to give Shannon a big hug and said, “God bless you!” We were almost in tears and left with the most amazing feeling of having gotten to know these two beautiful girls.

On our way back to the hotel, Shannon and I talked about doing something personal and special for the girls, something that would make them happy and help their wishes come true. As we were working out the details, we decided to head out to a local restaurant for a meal with others in the group and then do some sightseeing. We went to a place with active volcanoes and then to a local market. We didn’t buy much, except Ace bought this UGLY devil’s mask. And on our way back to the hotel, about 15 minutes later, we got into a car accident! The security guards driving behind us rammed into our car by accident! We were all okay, but Shannon and I insisted to Ace that his mask had too much negative energy!

The next morning, the entire group went to the Feed the Children food center, and our group was rather large, including the production crew, Dean Cain, Drake Bell, Thomas Scriven, Kyle and Chris Massey, Chelsea Staub, David and Laura McKenzie, Ace and Ryan Young, Shannon, and me. We met a large group of kids who were given meals, and we saw how the center operates on a daily basis while we interacted with the kids. The crew took notice of how connected Shannon and I had become with Yahoska and Marina the day before, so they arranged for them to arrive at school early so we could feed them ourselves. That second day with the girls, they were more open, playful, and happy. Marina was much more talkative and attached to me, which was the greatest feeling! We played with the girls and the other kids for awhile. When we were supposed to leave, Luz Marina, asked me something very strange and unexpected. She asked me if I could give her some money for notebooks. It made me wonder if her aunt hadn’t asked her to say that so she could just get money. I told Marina I didn’t have any money but I was sure she’d be fine and very happy soon. When I went to say goodbye to Yahoska, she hugged me and asked me the same question Marina did! That made me sure that their aunt was just trying to get them to ask me for money. So sad! I told her the same thing, that I didn’t have any money. And the sweet girl that she is, she grabbed my hand and drew a picture on it - a star, a heart, and two rounded lines on each side of the star. I had to take a picture of it!

We left the school to return to the hotel, and Shannon and I immediately went across the street to the hotel to shop for the items the girls wished for and anything they might need or want. We bought it all! And luckily for us, our eight security guards were able to help carry the bags! LOL. We bought new mattresses, bedding sheets and pillows, Barbie dolls, notebooks, backpacks, reading books, kids’ story books, a bible (Yahoska had an old bible in her school bag that morning), pencil sharpeners, crayons, markers, and English language books. Then we had our driver take us straight to the girls’ home to surprise them. They had no idea we were coming, so they just lit up with the biggest smiles when they saw us and ran up to us with huge hugs. They were so happy just to see us, and when we said we had gifts, they were even happier. We showed them their new things, and their eyes were wide and happy! The look on Marina’s face when I showed her the notebooks was just priceless! I’ll never forget those faces that day.

We went with the girls back to their sleeping area and helped them with their mattresses, showed them how to put the sheets on their beds properly, and sat with them as they read their books. They are so smart and read so well, and it was obvious how much they loved reading and learning. We took the price tags off everything, including the dolls, so their aunt couldn’t take them and sell them. It was no guarantee that she wouldn’t do that, but we really could only pray that she allowed the girls to keep their gifts. The Feed the Children social worker who was with us spoke to the girls in Spanish, and she told Marina that I will sponsor her and told Yahoska that Shannon will sponsor her. They jumped up and down, smiled from ear to ear, and gave us the biggest hugs!

Monica, the social worker, then asked the girls some questions. Yahoska was asked if she would ever forget Shannon, and she said, “No, I’ll never forget!” Marina was asked what makes her the happiest in her life, and she said, “The love that they have given me today.” Just to hear that from such a shy little girl was so touching… By that time everyone was in tears, and the girls cried as they hugged us. Yahoska kept asking us to “please don’t go!” but we had to leave. I should also mention that Feed the Children gave the aunt a brand new stove for cooking, which will hopefully keep her happy for awhile.

We asked the girls to write to us and let us know how they’re doing in school and life and how they’re progressing, and we told them we would write letters to them, too. I can’t tell you how I’m looking forward to writing the first letter and hearing back from them! There were so many tears during those days - happy and sad - but those personal visits with the girls were the highlights of the trip for sure! I still can’t stop looking at the pictures and thinking of ways to help the girls achieve their dreams and have the lives they deserve.

Anyone who wants to help Feed the Children can go to www.FeedTheChildren.org. And I encourage anyone who can do it to go on a mission, meet these children face to face, and see their lives for yourselves. It will change your life, I promise you!

Cheers!

Feed the Children

Friday, August 6th, 2010

The relaxation after the World Series of Poker has been wonderful. :)

It’s hard to even realize how tough the WSOP grind can be until it’s over. Suddenly, you don’t have a tournament to race to, you’re not spending thousands of dollars every few days on a tournament, and you’re not fighting every germ you come into contact with. It’s always fun to play a lot of poker and see friends that you don’t see most of the year, but the rest period after it’s all over is very calm and centering.

In the last few weeks, I did take a break from Las Vegas to visit some friends in Los Angeles, and I even got to spend some time shopping, partying, among many other things with my very close girlfriend Shannon Elizabeth. And it was then that I made a decision about where I’m going to spend some time in the next few weeks.

Nicaragua!

I was considering doing some charity work in Vietnam, but when Shannon talked to me about her upcoming trip to Nicaragua for Feed the Children, I was so excited to make the trip with her. I’ll get back to Vietnam in the next few months, I’m sure, but this new adventure gives me the chance to help other people in need as well. We’re going on an aid mission for this nonprofit organization, and we’ll be helping children by providing food and clean water, helping create shelters, and giving them other supplies that they don’t have. It’s something most of us take for granted, but many children don’t even have food in their lives every day. Shannon is no stranger to doing charity work, and I figure that both of us together can do some great things!

(photo courtesy of FeedtheChildren.org)

Another exciting thing about this trip is that Associated Television International is working with Feed the children to shoot a documentary about this trip. This 60-minute documentary will give people a first-hand look at our experience, seeing the poverty and helping make their lives a little better. But the major point of the documentary will be to show the rest of the world what kinds of problems exist in these parts of the world and what needs to be done to help.

For more information about Feed the Children and how you can help, visit www.FeedTheChildren.org.

And I leave in a few days! I’ve got my shots to prevent me from getting any of the local diseases… Ouch! I hate getting shots! But I know it’s all for the right reasons. I’m so looking forward to doing this project and getting involved in helping the people of Nicaragua.

Thanks for all of the recent birthday wishes, as it really made my day even more wonderful! The most precious gift I received, in addition to the love from everyone, was this lovely Lakshmi statue and some meditation items from Shannon. So sweet! After she helped me schedule an immediate appointment for Jace to see her vet to handle a problem with his breathing, which turns out to be asthma, we ended up going out to dinner for sushi that night. Shannon was so considerate on my birthday, understanding that I wanted to keep it low-key, even though she surprised me with good friends Tracy Wagner and Matt Mazzant showing up to dinner! It was a wonderful birthday, and big thanks to the three of them for making it extra special!

I think this year is going to be a good one for me, and once I get back from Central America, I’ll be preparing to get back to poker with the first few events in Europe. It should be an interesting few months, and I’ll keep you updated as best I can!

Cheers!

Next Steps Await

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I’m finally winding down from the WSOP. It was certainly a frustrating Series for me, but I have to admit that following the updates for the Main Event was pretty exciting. Sure, it’s always tough when we, as poker players, are not still in the tournament, but when the November Nine gets close, it’s fun to keep up with the live reporting. And now, a final table with Michael ‘The Grinder’ Mizrachi? How great is that? I can’t wait to see how it all plays out in November! A Big Congrats to ‘The Grinder’!

I do want to take a minute to thank everyone at the WSOP for the improvements this year and making everything convenient, roomy, and smooth. (Can I just suggest that the air conditioning be turned down a bit next year? It was freezing in that Pavilion Room some days! Brrr!) And thanks to all of the reporters and photographers who told the story of poker for seven weeks and worked their butts off! Go home and get some rest, people. ;)

Chilipoker has just announced a new addition to the team. I’d liked to welcome Rohin Malhotra (former CEO of WorldPokerTour) who will be joining our Management Team starting Sept 1, 2010. He brings diverse experience across global media and gaming markets and will play a key role in helping develop Chilipoker internationally, establishing media, telecom, and casino partnerships in regulated and new markets. Glad to have him aboard.

I’ve had almost two weeks to rest up after the tournaments, and I’m starting to feel like things are back to normal again. Jace is doing great, and though he still requires medication, he’s feeling so much better and even more loving of a cat than he was before! I appreciate all of the positive thoughts and feelings sent our way this summer.

So, what do I do now? There are quite a few decisions I need to make in the coming days and weeks. I have several options of places to go. First is Vietnam, as I always find peace in the praying ceremony for my dad and doing the charity work that allows me to give back to my country and people who are suffering. (Side note: If I don’t do that now, I will arrange a trip before the end of the year.) Second, is Kenya because I’ve been wanting to go on a wild safari trip for about three years but haven’t found the time. Being adventurous and seeing a different part of the world might be great for me right now. And lastly is India because of my meditation and search for peaceful places. Spending some time in India would help my meditation techniques and give me the time to be more spiritual, where no one knows me and I can simply focus on the tranquility that I need in my life.

Let me know what you think! I have to make those travel plans in the coming days and weeks, so any input would be helpful.

For now, I’m going to hold off on setting my full tournament schedule, though my next tournaments will be the WSOP Europe, EPT London, and Chilipoker’s WPT Marrakech events. Now it’s all about relaxation and getting in a more peaceful frame of mind. I hope everyone else has settled down from the WSOP and enjoying your summers!

Cheers!

The WSOP is a Wrap

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Well, that didn’t go as planned. ;)

My WSOP Main Event started on Wednesday with Day 1C. I bought in earlier in the week, so I entered the Rio on my starting day ready to go. I started with 30K chips and won a few small pots early, chipping up to 41K by the end of the second level. No big hands at that point.

(photo courtesy of Pokernews.com)

Before dinner, I was in a big hand with A-Q in the small blind. On a flop of A-3-5, I checked, Seat 5 bet 1100, and I called. On the J turn, Seat 5 bet again, and I check-raised to 5200, which he called. The 6 came on the river, and Seat 5 bet 9000. I check-folded, as as he was a pretty tight, solid player that didn’t play many hands or chased many flops. so it was quite obvious I was beat when he smooth called my raise on the turn. I felt good about my laydown. But by the dinner break, I had 33,500 chips and had to do something.

I had a busy but relaxing dinner break, as I went home to feed Jace, then met up with Shannon Elizabeth and some other friends for sushi. I returned to the Rio for the last levels, won a few decent sized pots, and moved into the next level with 64K. One of those pots happened when the ESPN cameras were on my table filming so the player tried to play overly aggressive against me. Which it didn’t work out too well for him as he later said, “I bullied the wrong lady!” He got that right!

That put me above average, and I ended the day with 70,050 chips. I felt good, but physically I was struggling. I was already dealing with a head cold that made me sound rather stuffy, but the Pavilion room where I sat on Day 1 was absolutely freezing! I had to buy a WSOP hoodie jacket at one point and I felt like I was playing poker in Alaska. ;)

(photo courtesy of WSOP.com)

I came back for Day 2A on Friday with that solid 70,050 stack, but I couldn’t get anything going. I was also still sick from the day before but didn’t want cold medicine to get in the way of my concentration. But I had troubles with the cards themselves. The first big pot I lost was with pocket sevens UTG on a 2-5-6 flop, but my opponent in the big blind with 2-6 offsuit moved all-in for 21K on the flop after my raise. I mucked. The next big hand was with A-J. My opponent in Seat 3 had A-Q, and the board was A-4-6-7-K. I lost 19K on that pot and was down to 44K.

(photo courtesy of Pokernews.com)

Then the last hand happened. It was in the middle of Level 5 when I looked down at A-Q. I limp called under the gun, two other players called, and the button raised 4600. I pushed all-in with my last 30K, most players got out of the way, and the button called with A-K. The board came A-A-J-6-blank, and that was the end of my Main Event. Overall a very frustrating day!

I left the Rio thinking about how bad I ran on Day 2, getting no hands, dealing with a cold that was getting worse by the hour, and finding out that the official reporting of my bustout hand was wrong. Of course, I arrived home to the loving purring of Jace, and he listened to all of my poker hands. He really does like bad beat stories. LOL!

I try to stay positive as much as I can, but this was a frustrating WSOP! I played quite a few events and only came close to cashing once. In all the tournaments I entered I felt I played well, but I just couldn’t get a rush going and lady luck simply wasn’t on my side. There were many other poker pros who had the same kind of WSOP, and it just isn’t any fun. :(

Now it’s time for a break. I have to settle some things non poker related that have been weighing heavily on my mind for weeks. And I need to get healthy again, rest up, and eventually take a look at the tournament schedule for the rest of the year. The WPT is announcing some things today, I would like to go back to my home in London and play the WSOP Europe and EPT London events, and there are many more things on the agenda. But for now, I can’t think about poker for a few days…maybe a few weeks. I understand the ups and downs of poker as well as anyone because I’ve been playing for so many years, but sometimes a break is the best thing to get in the right mindset.

For my friends still in the WSOP Main Event, I wish them the best of luck! I’ll be watching it play out while I get some much needed rest.

Cheers!

Fun Away From the Tables, Readying for the Main Event

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

It’s been awhile since I blogged, but it’s also been a pretty rough WSOP for me. There’s not much to talk about when I bust out of a tournament on Day 1, which happened more than I wanted. I had very high hopes coming into the Series this year, and despite my efforts and how many events I played, I had trouble getting anything going. I had rough luck with cards, and things just didn’t go my way.

(photo courtesy of Hugues ‘Def’ Fournaise)

The good news? The Main Event is almost here! I’m planning on playing Day 1C on Wednesday, and I’m very ready for it. I’ve been working on the meditation, and I’ve tried to let go of the bad beats and discouraging tournaments that already happened. Those are in the past. Things happen in poker, and they don’t always go my way. I know this better than many pros because of my many years in the business. And the Main Event is a new tournament, a new opportunity, and I’m ready!

I do want to thank everyone who has asked through Facebook and Twitter about Jace, my sweet boy. He’s been feeling better and finally taking to the medicines. We’re still visiting the vet to make sure he’s on the right track, but he’s a strong little guy and continues to lift my spirits and give me so much joy. :)

And in the midst of the WSOP madness over the past few weeks, I did take the time to do something super fun! My girl Shannon Elizabeth and I decided we needed a release from the poker stress, so we went on a secret mission to a gun range and shot all kinds of guns! From pistols to machine guns, we did it all with the help of the great staff there. So much fun! And the PokerListings crew came along to film it and put together this great video of our fun experience:

I’m very excited for the Main Event, and I can’t wait to get started and see how many thousands of people show up. I hope it’s a great year for it, and I’m glad to be a part of it. Good luck to everyone playing, and I’ll see you at the WSOP tables this week!

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!

Cheers!

Time for a Poker Break

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

I’m not going to lie. This has been a tough WSOP so far. I’ve only made one Day 2 and haven’t yet made it into the money in any of the seven events I’ve played. There are a few things going on in my personal life that have distracted me, the most important being my cat, Jace, who is dealing with some major health problems. In addition to giving him medicine, taking him to the vet often, and dealing with his sickness and irregular sleep, I’m worried about him constantly, which weighs heavy on me. I know he can heal, but it’s taking a lot of time and care to get him there.

Excuses? I have them. But am I giving up on the WSOP? No!

Let’s get the last two tournaments recapped, even though I kinda want to forget about them! ;)

Event 18 was the $2K limit hold’em tournament, and as I’ve said before limit is my game. So, I started that day by working hard, though at the end of Level 2, I only had 5,600 chips, less than I started with, because I lost a big pot earlier in the level. That hand was brutal. Luckily, blinds were only at 75/150. I picked up pocket kings under the gun and raised. A woman in Seat 9 reraised to 225, Seat 1 tried to call 150 not realizing it was 225, but he did call. Seat 3 also called. I reraised and they all called. The flop was 6-5-2. I bet, Seat 9 raised, Seat 1 called, I reraised, Seat 9 reraised. I ended up capping it, and they both called. The turn was the 8. I bet and they both called. The river was a 6. I just checked there but Seat 1 bet, and we both call. Seat 1 showed 6-7 and then said he never would have called if he knew it was 3 bets to him! Sigh. He won the pot.

(photo courtesy of Pokerlistings.com)

But I grinded my way back up. At the same time, Tom “durrrr” Dwan was seated at my table, and it was funny to see the tweets that came back at me when I wrote that because I’m actually happy when I have a tough table! It keeps me focused on my game and gives me more to think about with each hand. My bad luck had nothing to do with him, it was just that no matter how much I grinded and got chips, I’d lose them in one hand. For example, I took Ac-Kc into battle with Seat 8, and I hit big on a Jc-10c-8h flop. The Ks turn gave me that pair of kings, but the 6h on the river didn’t give me the flush or straight. Seat 8 won it with pocket tens that flopped the set. Ouch.

(photo courtesy of Pokerlistings.com)

The 90-minute dinner break was good because I had to drive home to give Jace his medicine, but it also left me a little sad to leave him and exhausted from rushing on the break and not having time to eat much of anything. I still came back with a good attitude, though, and finished the night with 22,300 chips. Out of 478 players, there were 110 left, and the average stack was 26,000. Day 2!

I went back the next day and didn’t last too long. My bustout hand was tough. I had Qh-10s in the big blind and called Bob Lauria’s raise from the small blind. The flop was Qs-9c-4h, and he bet, I raised, he called. The 10d on the turn gave me two pair, so when he checked, I bet, and when he raised, I reraised all-in. Bob called with Ks-Jc for the turned straight. The river blanked, and I was gone. There were 80-something players still in, but I wasn’t one of them. SO frustrating.

Early on Friday, I was upset to have a cough and sore throat. Seriously? Maybe I’m running myself down, but a cold for myself on top of everything else? Oh well, I took some medicine and focused on playing the 5pm start of Event 23, which was the $2,500 short-handed LHE. I was super excited about the six-handed tourney!

I felt good, except for the cold symptoms, going into it but took a hit in the first level when I took my pocket eights on through a flop of A-7-5. My opponent had 9-2 and called…and caught a 9 on the turn. Okay. Fine. I moved on. By the end of Level 2, I had 5,400, which was not ideal but I could work with it.

What I couldn’t work with was my last hand. I had Qd-9d, and four of us went to a Q-9-A flop. Not bad! I was all-in when the turn was a 7, but the player who called me had A-7. Nothing on the river helped me, and I was eliminated. My tweet about it said, “This calls for a BREAK…!!”

And I was right. Working so hard with nothing to show for it is tough to take on an emotional and physical level. But I’m not giving up! No way. It’s not what I do. I don’t know how to quit. But what I am doing is taking a day or two to relax. I have to clear my mind, work on my meditation, talk to some friends, and hang around the condo with Jace. All of that will help me focus so I can get back to the tables with a smile on my face and positive feelings about the tournaments. There are plenty more tournaments to go, and I’ll be ready to attack them very soon!

Cheers!

Lucky 8 Magazine Cover & Another Fast WSOP Event

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Let’s get to the positive things first, shall we?

I’ve been asked to be on the cover of Lucky 8 Magazine, a casino and gaming publication that wanted to do a feature story on my life and career in the poker industry. But most importantly, they want to focus on my charity work, which I’m glad they’re doing because it will hopefully inspire more people - in and out of poker - to give back as much as possible. I haven’t seen the final article, and the publication won’t be out for at least a month or so, but I’ve been working with them on the cover photo and finishing up the interview process. I can’t wait to see it!

Jace is still struggling with his infections, but I have so much faith that he is on his way to recovery. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but he has the sweetest, most loving personality, and despite all that he’s going through, he stays in good spirits most of the time. I just adore him. Can you tell? ;)

Actually, I adore him so much, and I’m so glad that I rescued him (I can’t even think of how sick he would be without the vet care he’s gotten recently) that I want to go back to the shelter and rescue another cat. I’m going to wait until Jace is all better and completely healthy first, but I’m already thinking about finding a female friend for him and another sweet addition to my home.

On to poker news, I played in Event 17 on Tuesday, which was the $5,000 NLHE event. I started in good spirits, but on my first hand in the big blind, I got involved with K-10 and three other players. The flop came Ah-Jd-Qc, then the 6h turn and Jc river. My opponent had pocket aces and rivered the full house to my flopped straight! I lost 10K in chips and was kinda disgusted by that hand. It didn’t take too long for me to push in the big blind with pocket queens. Guess what the caller had? Pocket kings. Of course he did! The board was 7-6-3-J-blank, and I was out.

The only good part of the day was going home to Jace, who didn’t care what happened in the tournament but let me tell my stories anyway!

I plan to play Event 18 on Wednesday. It’s the $2K limit hold’em, and since limit is my strong game… Wish me luck!

Cheers!

Only a Few Events into the 2010 WSOP

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

That is a positive way to think about it, right? Only a fraction of the WSOP events have taken place, and I’ve only played a few of them. There are many weeks and tournaments left to go, and things have to get better. :)

Before I get into my last two tournaments, I want to say thanks to everyone who has asked about Jace, my rescue cat and love of my life. He is still struggling with several infections, and we’re making frequent trips to the cat specialist to try to get his medication right and get him healthy. For now, though, he’s still sick, not always comfortable, and doesn’t sleep through the night. That means my sleep patterns have been off, and I can’t help but be worried about him. That’s not an excuse for why I haven’t gone deep in any WSOP events, but it definitely plays a part when my mind is on Jace at all times.

On Thursday, I played Event 9, the $1,500 Pot-Limit Hold’em tournament. I was actually feeling very good about that one, somewhat rested and comfortable at the table. Several players at my table were not there at the start of action, so it was Fabrice Soulier, me, and four other players. That table went okay, but when I got moved, I had Yevgeniy Timoshenko and a bunch of other tough, young players at my table. I slowly made my way up in chips, starting with several double-ups. But then I lost more than 8K with A-Q under the gun versus A-J, and the board came A-J-6-K-7. That left me with 2,200. Ugh.

Then I looked down at A-4 in the small blind and limped in. The big blind checked. When the flop came A-Q-10, I checked, the big blind bet 350, I raised to 1,100, and the big blind moved all-in. I called with my top pair, but he showed K-J for the flopped straight. Turn and rivers were blank, and I was gone. I lasted more than four hours in that tournament but left before the dinner break. Very discouraging.

The next day, I drove back over the Rio for the 5pm $1,500 limit hold’em tournament. Limit has always been my specialty, so I was looking forward to it. But I happened to get seated at a table where a guy decided to take his shoes off during the beginning levels. Smelly, gross feet to start the tournament? Yuk! The only good thing to come out of that was that when I tweeted it, I got some hilarious responses. My twitter friends are funny!

(photo courtesy of Pokernews.com)

As for the cards, they weren’t funny at all. I was running bad and down to 1,300 when I got back from the dinner break. I lasted almost another two hours on the short stack but finally pushed with pocket eights, but my opponent had pocket kings. The flop was 7-8-9 for the set! But the king came on the turn to give my opponent a better set. I was gone.

Now it’s definitely time to take a few days off. I planned on it anyway because the next event on my schedule isn’t until June 8, but I do need this time to do some relaxing, meditation, and positive thinking. I know there’s a lot more of the WSOP left to go, and I’ll be ready! After a couple days of peace and no bad beats, that is. :)

Cheers!

Nominated for Two Poker Maven Awards, What an Honor!

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Poker Maven Awards

When I found out about this, I was very humbled. I never do charity work for the recognition but occasionally it does feel good to get a pat on the back. And I feel very honored. I started doing charity work in Vietnam when my Father moved back six years ago. I started travelling there more often and I had an opportunity to see firsthand, how many people were suffering in my homeland and it broke my heart to see so many people suffering. It feels really good to help people who suffer through poverty, tragedy, and natural disasters at no fault of their own. I have been extremely fortunate and blessed in my life, and it only made sense for me to give back.

When Maryann Morrison of Woman Poker Player Magazine contacted me to let me know I was nominated for an award because of my charity work, I was overwhelmed. She told me that two other women were also up for the award; Annie Duke and Linda Johnson were also nominated in the same category. Annie and Linda do a great deal of work for organizations that matter to them, and seeing the poker community give back like they do is inspiring. I’m extremely happy to be in the same category with such outstanding humanitarians.

Then I see the news that I’ve also been nominated for “Outstanding Professional Player of 2009.” Wow!! I’m in that category with Kathy Liebert and Vanessa Rousso, both top players in the world of poker. Being in this category also means a great deal to me, because I really had an opportunity to focus more on Poker in 2009. In 2009, I fulfilled my two-year promise to my father after his passing in 2007, and I felt like I was finally at peace with poker and life, and this allowed me to play much better poker. And most importantly, playing well enables me to give back more to the charities I support.

The purpose of the Maven Awards is to acknowledge the many great females in Poker. Maryann Morrison, the managing editor of Woman Poker Player Magazine had this to say, “I am very excited about the potential of the awards to heighten the profile of women in poker, as well as having the industry start thinking about making additional efforts to cater to the women who enjoy poker,” she said. “As we have seen already this year, more women are winning major tournaments then ever before. I hope many people submit their votes to show their support for the accomplishments of the nominees.”

Of course, I would be honored to win either or both of the categories that I’m nominated for. The award would mean a great deal to me, personally and professionally. But I also want to make this known because I’m humbled and honored to be included in such a contest. I want to bring additional attention to the Maven Awards. But to be honest, just knowing that my charity work is noted and recognized, and might inspire others to do the same type of work, warms my heart. Feel free to vote if you think I deserve either award. Voting is open now and can be made at mavenawards.com until September 30th, 2010. Further details on the presentations of the awards will be announced once they are available.

Cheers!

WSOP Off to a Rough Start

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Yesterday was the first day of my World Series. I was ready to play, though definitely a bit tired because Jace didn’t sleep well. My sweet cat is back from the hospital and taking his medications like a good boy, but he has several health issues to deal with. His energy spurts come at odd hours of the night, but I believe that’s a sign that he’s happy and trying to beat these infections.

So, a little tired but excited, I headed over to the Rio and took my seat in the Amazon Room. The Pavilion Ballroom was completely full of tables and players, so my section was in good old Amazon. Familiar place, but I felt that this year was going to be different.

(photo courtesy of Pokernews.com)

It was the $1,000 NLHE tournament - Event 3, Day 1A - and I started off well. On the third hand of the day, I looked down at pocket jacks from the small blind. Seat 2 raised to 100 preflop, and I called. The flop came 9c-5s-9s. When Seat 2 bet, I check-raised to 300, and he reraised to 600. I called, and the turn brought a 9 that we both checked. The river was a 5, so I bet 1,000, and Seat 2 pushed all-in. I called all-in and showed my jacks for the double-up. Wheee! Off to a great start.

I lost a few chips during the first level and ended it with 5,200. But it was the second level that was utterly frustrating. There were three of us all-in preflop. I got my chips in with pocket kings, another player came along with pocket jacks, but the other guy had pocket aces. It played out just as you think it would, and I was gone. Out. Eliminated.

(photo courtesy of Matt Waldon)

So, my 2010 WSOP didn’t get off to the amazing start I planned, but it was only one of the 23 events I’m playing. As I said, the lack of sleep didn’t help me today, but it was the bad run of cards and luck in the second level that did me in.

I went home and curled up with Jace to calm me down, which definitely worked. He is such a peaceful presence in my life, despite his bursts of energy and tough times with the infections.

My next event is Monday, with the $1,500 NLHE in Pavilion Yellow, table 156, seat 8. I’m gonna give it my best shot!

Cheers!