LG... Life's Good
The PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour season-four schedule has been released, so, naturally, I’m excited. I’m about to show you why it’s almost impossible to not have fun at LAPT events with some highlight examples from 2010. Unless of course, some Argentine slaps his slow roll on the felt in front of you as he runs circles around the table screaming with joy over hitting his one-outer on the river to end your Main Event early. That would suck a little.
The bright side? Not only do you get to stare at stunning girls all day such as LAPT Hostess Luli Fernandez (in the photo with me above chilling on a beach in Brazil) linger around the poker room all day, but there are so many amazing places to explore just outside the poker room.
Sao Paulo, Brazil – February 16-20, 2011
Season three took us to the Brazilian island of Florianopolis. It was a slight tease being on the beach in the middle of winter, but we still had such a fantastic experience. This year, the LAPT is returning to one of Brazil’s proudest cities, Sao Paulo, and best of all, not only is it going to be in the peak of their summer, but you know what they (Kristy Arnett) say about Brazilian women -- they simply win at life. Feast your eyes on the below video from this year’s LAPT Welcome Party in Brazil, and you'll see why.
Viña del Mar, Chile – March 17-20, 2011
Chile was a new addition to the LAPT season-three schedule, however, after the devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Viña del Mar in late February, only a few weeks before the March event, the LAPT stop was cancelled. Twelve months later, the stop returns to the schedule, and we will head to Chile’s beach-resort town to pump our well-needed tourism dollars into the bounced-back stunner of a city.
Lima, Perú – April 12-17, 2011
I was lucky enough to escape the WSOP madness for one week this year, and head south to cover the LAPT in Lima, Peru, and this year we will return in April. It was here that headlines were created when Jose "Nacho" Barbero won his second LAPT title in back-to-back events. The event was held in the quaint town of Miraflores, offering us some brilliant nights out at the clubs in Larco Mar, and gorgeous surrounds, which you can see in the following video courtesy of PokerStars.tv.
Rosario, Argentina – June 1-5, 2011
Not many tour operators bother competing with the World Series of Poker. I like to think of those six weeks as the Bermuda Triangle of major poker-event scheduling, but PokerStars did it with success this year, and they’re certainly not stopping. Season four will take us to South America’s largest casino in Rosario, Argentina, the Grand Final destination of season three. Being the first week of June means the beginning of winter in South America – the perfect time to start hitting up the popular cities rather than the beach towns. I’ll let this video paint the picture of the fantastic week we had this year in Rosario.
Bogotá, Colombia – August 3-7, 2011
Returning to loved cities is one thing, but breaking new ground is what really gets me excited, and Columbia, the home of the most amazing coffee in the world, is just that. Bogotá is Columbia’s largest city, labeled the “Athens of South America.” If my crazy trip to Greece with five girlfriends a few years back is anything to go by, then I’m bursting at the seams with excitement to get there! It's said to be a roller-coaster of a city high in the Andes at an elevation of 8,646 feet. All cities have contrasts, but few have them like Bogotá, as described in this interesting passage by goway.com.
"Nestled high in the Andes at 8,646 feet, Santafé de Bogotá is a city of contrasts. It's a city of high-rises standing next to colonial churches; a city of universities, theaters and shantytowns. It is a mixture of influences, Spanish and English and Indian; a city of great wealth and material well being and abject poverty. It is a city of wild traffic and calm oases reflecting a bygone day. It is a modern city with futuristic architecture, graffiti and congestion; restaurants, bookstores and street vendors peddling emeralds, thieves, beggars, street people and drug dealers wrapped around the inner core of the old city."
The LAPT Grand Final destination is still to be confirmed, so in lieu of this unknown city, I'll leave you with a perfect taste of Latin America: a friendly game of football.
Follow me on Twitter! @LynnGilmartin
I’m finally home in Melbourne, Australia, after the busiest two months of my life, including one heck of a November to remember. Last week, the PokerNews Live Reporting Team was in Sydney for the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final.
Despite numbers dropping from last year, this was one quality field, and the final table could not have proven that any more than it did last Sunday. Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu and his travel-buddy, 2007 APPT Manila Champion Eddy Sabat, both made it to the final nine, along with Aussie-loving Brit Roland de Wolfe and 2010 WPT Grand Prix de Paris runner-up Antoine Amourette. For the Aussies, though, the biggest highlight was Jonathan "xMONSTERxDONGx" Karamalikis who not only joined the star-studded final table, but also crushed his way to victory.
A Main Event can never happen without a party to lubricate everyone before the tough week ahead. Some arrived fresh off Bondi Beach, others arrived fresh out of a spray-tan booth (refer to Daniel Negreanu's tan-line below); and when prawns are firing up on the barbecue, what better place would there be than the APPT Welcome Party to showcase some of Australia’s finest vocabulary?
There is no doubt in saying that Karamalikis is a ridiculously good poker player both online and live, and he continues to prove it over and over again. He is also quite a veteran on the old joystick (there’s a flashback to 1995) when it comes to NBA Jam. One thing he and Daniel Neilson could take a few lessons on, though, is cleaning their rooms.
For a light break from the xMONSTERxDONGx show, please enjoy some gorgeous pictures of the stunning city that is Sydney. I literally fell in love with this place – I always say there is no other place in the world besides Melbourne that I want to live, but Sydney has now crept up on my extremely small “maybe list.” Oh, and look at that, an unavoidable Dong reference crept up in the photos too.
So now it’s back to the Monster Dongination. I wonder what it’s like to be Jonathan Karamalikis. Catching your two-outer when your kings run into aces. Claiming the prestigious APPT Grand Final title from one of the best final tables seen in 2010? Drinking "Dong-Perignon" straight from the bottle knowing you’re about to cash out of that casino for almost half a million Australian dollars. It must be nice. Although, there were other players in the Main Event – 289 of them in fact. So here is a quick snapshot of the fantastic week we had in Sydney. I hope you enjoyed our live coverage as always, and if you were crazy enough not to follow as we covered the event, then the following video will be the fastest and most enjoyable way to catch up!
Follow me on Twitter! @LynnGilmartin
It's safe to say I just had the most fun-filled, action-packed, brilliant month of my life! From my birthday in Las Vegas, my first November Nine, meeting my sponsor child in the Philippines, cheering for the Dolphins and the Penguins in Miami and then the Magic in Orlando, my first Thanksgiving, hanging with Mickey Mouse in Disney World, to drinking pina coladas with Kristy Arnett on a Caribbean cruise. All I can say is, life’s great!
It's my Party
I turned 26 on November 3, and there’s no better place in the world to be than Sin City. I had some Aussie friends in town and of course my dear friends from PokerNews to help me drown my sorrows in officially passing the halfway mark to 50. The aftermath consisted of bruises that took almost a month to heal, meaning the night was a complete success.
It feels a lot longer than just one month ago, but this year was my first November Nine experience. The hype, the entrance songs, the gum chewing, and the never-ending Jack Effel dad-jokes – I simply loved all of it. I had picked John Racener to win, so I wasn't too far off! Speaking of picks, I almost beat the PokerNews Team in the ESPN Poker Pick'em, but Chad Halloway got me in the tiebreaker!
PokerStars.net APPT Cebu
I could go on and on about how amazing the Shangri-La Mactan Resort in Cebu, Philippines, is and the amount of fun we had during the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour, but I will allow this video to do the talking while wrapping up the Main Event.
It wasn’t all glitz and glamour on this trip to the Philippines, though. I have a sponsor child in Cebu and I went to meet him and his family which was the most incredible life changing experience. For just $250 per year, my sponsor child can go to school and participate in wellness programs through Kadasig Aid and Development. Seeing the impact that my tiny contributions make on not only the child's life, but the family and community was amazing. If you would love to help make a difference, only $35 will buy a hamper to feed a Filipino family this Christmas. And yes, that is a PokerStars bag I gave him.
I'm in Miami B#$*%
Once the PokerStars.net APPT Cebu was over, it was back to the US for one crazy night in LA during the North American Poker Tour, and then, without any sleep and after a few too many drinks, it was on to a 6am flight to Florida for two weeks of vacation. For our first night in Miami, Team PokerStars Pro (and crazed Miami Dolphins fan) Jason Mercier joined us at a Dolphins game against the Bears. Growing up, I've always loved going to various live sporting events, and I have to say, the USA sure knows how to put on a show.
When I thought that was all, a couple of days later we ended up going to my first NHL game, which I think now is my favorite sport to watch live – so much brutal action! My boyfriend and I started our road trip from Miami to Naples, where we stopped, in the middle of nowhere, at Miccosukkee Casino at 1 a.m. for a little $1/$2 no-limit hold'em fix, and it didn’t last long. The felts were so dirty I couldn’t bring myself to shuffle my chips in case my nails scraped up the dirt on the felt, and that’s even if the dirt on the chips allowed them to freely separate to even successfully shuffle. When security guards require guns on their belts, you know you’re not in the best of locations.
After an hour, we left empty handed, which feels like the norm lately. An amazing three days past in Naples – a stunning town that for the first time in my life, made me excited about getting old and retiring – we were on the road again up to Orlando for a Disney World fix, my first Thanksgiving, and we figured, why not throw in another sport in, scoring last minute tickets to an NBA game with Miami Heat playing Orlando Magic. This, too, was another first. My first sighting of Dwight Howard. Oh yes.
Of course, the biggest "first" of the many I had this month, was my first Thanksgiving. Along with the rest of the American nation I was all turkeyed out that afternoon, although the next day I certainly paid for the ten-too-many Mimosa's I had in the solid 14-hour drinking session. Another first to add to that was my first attempt at Cornhole. I completely sucked, but I must say, my form was nothing short of professional.
If you Like Pina Coladas...
The fun ramped up even more when Kristy Arnett and her fiancé flew into Florida for a crazy night out in Miami followed by a five-day cruise through the Caribbean. What more could you want? Well, we wanted poker. We had assumed (and accepted) on day one that the casino did not have a poker table, until we heard an announcement that they were holding a no-limit hold'em tournament the following day. The reaction from all four of us when the announcement went over the PA system was like four meerkats sighting food for the first time in a week. We thought our prayers to top off the tropical paradise we were living in had been answered.
Until we saw this:
A structure like this would really draw out serious skill at the table, right? Ha! Obviously we did not play, but we did manage to get a $1/$2 cash game started on a couple of the nights. A cash game that took a 10% rake up to $25 with a minimum of $1 on every pot – including walks! Of course, we were on vacation, so the most important part was that we had a great time, and that we did. The cruise was phenomenal. I say that because it’s the truth, and I’m running out of descriptive words. In fact, I’m giving up on words altogether as the hundreds of photos we took would do a better job than any words ever could!
Home, Sweet, Home... Almost
I'm not quite home just yet, but close enough! I'm back in the land Down Under for the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final in Sydney, Australia. It's become apparent over the past couple of years that we don't quite speak English down here, so I guess I could say it's so refreshing to be able to speak in my native language again! It's only my second time to visit this city, which is kind of incredible because I'm from just "next-door" in Melbourne. There's a rival between the two cities, so as a Melbournite, I'm breaking all sorts of rules in saying this, but I have fallen in love with Sydney!
Sydney, Australia’s unofficial capital, is the oldest, largest and most extravagant city in my home country. I’ve been all around the world, yet up until last December, I had freakishly never been to Sydney. I finally had the opportunity for the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final, and with the days flying by so fast, I cannot believe that time has come around once again.
Sydney is a city that draws you outside, whether it be for surfing at Bondi Beach, sailing under the Harbor Bridge, jogging (or even horse riding) through Centennial Park, shopping in Paddington, or simply having a drink while overlooking the Sydney Opera House. It would be a waste to spend too long indoors, except for going deep in the APPT Main Event!
I have to say that Melbourne definitely wins for the people and atmosphere of Australian cities (call me biased), but Sydney offers some serious eye-candy along the Harbor and at Bondi Beach, and I’m not just talking about the Aussie chicks. There’s a free ferry that takes you along the Sydney Harbor from the dock just outside the Star City Casino over to the Sydney Opera House. The views are stunning.
Unfortunately, in typical southeastern Australia summer fashion, my experience last year of Bondi was attacked by some unexpected torrential rain, so I am excited to revisit for another attempt at checking out one of Australia’s most popular beaches, and you definitely should, too.
- Weather: averages at a perfect 25°C (77°F)
- Currency: Australian Dollars are almost equal to USD right now
- Language: I feel the need to include this because a couple of Americans had been surprised at how good my English was when they found out I was Australian -- I’m not kidding. We’re pretty much all English, folks.
The Star City Hotel & Casino
The Star City Hotel & Casino is once again the host venue of the PokerStars.net APPT Grand Final, tucked within the heart of Sydney with the Darling Harbor at its doorstep. This is the only place in the state where you’ll find gaming tables, but with over 200 of them woven through this complex of six restaurants, eight bars, a 2,000-seat theatre and 480 hotel rooms, you won’t be short of options.
One of my biggest peeves is when you have a 10-minute break and nowhere to go for a cheap, easy, on-the-go meal. You won’t have that problem here with the Trophies Foodcourt or even the Garden Buffet where you can load your plate with as many prawns as you can eat.
The AUD $6,300 APPT Sydney Main Event attracted almost 400 locals, well-known pros and international qualifiers, forming a juicy prize pool of AUD $2.37 million, and with the Australian dollar so strong at the moment, there are really too many reasons not to miss it this year. To add to that, I hear that Daniel Negreanu will be making a trip down under for this event.
A Taste of Australia?
One of the most common first questions I receive when I meet non-Australians is something about kangaroos. If you’re heading to Australia for the first time, let me tell you that you certainly will not see any hopping around the city streets. Unless you have the time to head out to the countryside to spot some wild roos, then I would suggest an afternoon at Wildlife World where you can see roos, wombats, and you can even pet a koala (please don’t ever attempt this if you see one in the wild. Although they look as friendly as your little sister’s teddy bears, they’re not). If you love this wildlife kind of activity, you can even back up Wildlife World with a visit underwater in the Sydney Aquarium right across the harbor from Star City Casino. And don't forget the zoo, which you can reach by ferry.
For a traditional Aussie lunch or dinner, head to Centennial Parklands and fire up one of the public barbeques. All it will cost you is the price of the snags (sausages) and the Esky (cooler) of beers you’ll sneakily drink while in the park.
A Video Tour
Had enough reading? Here’s a glimpse of the city that we crammed into one minute and thirty-eight seconds during last year’s APPT Grand Final