Around the World with LG

LG... Life's Good

Samba, Soccer and Poker in Sao Paulo

February 24, 2011

Tags: Travel, Tourism, LAPT, Sao Paulo, Kristy Arnett, Andre Akkari, Luli Fernandez, Brazil, Felipe Ramos, Latin American Poker Tour.

I knew I was in for a good time at the first stop of the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour's fourth season when I found out it was in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Many of my friends are from that city and they have raved on for as long as I've known them about how amazing it is. Now I know why!

We've all heard the reputation Brazil has for its gorgeous women, and to prove this theory correct, upon first arrival you're greeted with some of the most stunning female immigration officers. There was one in particular who was so gorgeous that when I brought her up that night to other friends who traveled separately they knew exactly who I was talking about. On our first night a local friend, Sergio Prado, who so kindly supplied all of my pre-game tips on Sao Paulo, took the PokerNews video team out to my now-favorite area in Sao Paulo, Vila Madelena, for our first round of Caipirinhas. We had the traditional kind with Cachaça, a Brazilian liquor, and boy-oh-boy were they strong. I could only handle one and it took us about an hour to finish!

That night was Team PokerStars Pro Jose Ignacio Barbero's birthday, so we all ended up at a samba club nearby. It was only a Wednesday night, but the club was still full with the most amazing dancers decked out in the most extravagant costumes shaking their hips all over the stage. Full Tilt Poker Red Pro, and local resident, Felipe "Mojave" Ramos organized a VIP table for Nacho's birthday with fellow Team PokerStars Pro's Angel Guillen, Christian De Leon and the latest addition to Team PokerStars Online Jorge 'Baalim' Limon. It was here that the stunning women continued to appear, which you can see a sample of thanks to Felipe's tweet.

The next day was our first day of shooting around the city. It got off to a very hot and sweaty start at our first few sights until the biggest, most unexpected storm came bucketing down around us. This was when we learned all about Sao Paulo's unreliable and extreme weather trend during the summer. After braving the rain for half, and realizing it just wasn't going anywhere, we prematurely wrapped up our video and jumped in the first cab we could find for what was supposed to be a 15-minute ride home. Three-hours later we pulled into our hotel. Three of the longest and possibly most frustrating hours of my life! Sao Paulo traffic is like no other, and then add flooded roads on top of the already stand-still rush hour, and you have yourself a three-hour journey. Once we got back to the hotel it was straight into the party dress for the Welcome Party and round two of the Caipirinhas, but this time just with vodka!

The next day was a historic one for the PokerStars.net LAPT with the Main Event attracting 536 players -- the most we've ever seen in a live poker tournament south of the border -- setting the fourth season off to a brilliant start. Despite having a field (and final table) of mostly Brazilians, the locals still couldn't keep the title on their home turf and it was Chilean Alex Manzano who pocketed the R$615,000 and prestigious trophy.

One of the most celebrated events in all of Latin America is football (or soccer). Our very own Kristy Arnett also shares this passion, so I took her, Felipe Ramos and Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari to a local park for a "soccer-off." Kristy absolutely blew us away with this little maneuver she pulled, rightfully winning the competition.

The next most-celebrated event in Brazil is the world-famous Carnaval, and again Akkari and Ramos took the PokerNews video team (pictured above) to samba school, Império de Casa Verde, to watch (and take part in) a practice session for one of the participating schools in the upcoming competition. This was definitely one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I can't even begin to imagine what the "Main Event" is like, and all I know is that this addition has been made to my bucket list. That night was topped off with an early-morning visit to Joakins, where I can promise, you will find the best burgers in all of Sao Paulo.

I'm sure most of you will enjoy this edition of Calling the Clock. You really can't get much hotter than ESPN Argentina's LAPT Hostess Luli Fernandez. If you've never heard of her, then do yourself a favor and type her name into Google Images. You're welcome.

Lastly, if all of that is not enough of a nutshell of our fabulous week in Sao Paulo, Brazil, then here's even more of our highlights wrapped into less than 5 minutes.

Follow me on Twitter! @LynnGilmartin

Copenhagen

February 17, 2011

Tags: Travel, Tourism, EPT, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Copenhagen is the royal capital of Denmark, Europe's oldest kingdom, with a population of 1.2 million. It is one of the world's premier design capitals, full of extravagant palaces and cobbled squares, all with over one thousand years of history.

Last year I was lucky enough to work at my first European Poker Tour, with 423 players filling out Casino Copenhagen, each laying down 35,000+2250 Danish kroners for the PokerStars.net European Poker Tour Main Event, and this year we can expect the same. With two Day 1s in the schedule, everyone is guaranteed at least one day off, so there is plenty of time to explore town. Within 10 minutes of the hotel and casino are some of Copenhagen’s best attractions. This time of year is stunning – freezing, yet stunning. On our day off last year, I froze the tips of my toes being a not-so-regular in the snow and not wearing the appropriate shoes, but if you wear waterproof shoes and keep warm, it’ll be hard not to appreciate walking around this stunning city.

Nyhavn is my favorite spot in all of Copenhagen. It’s a quaint strip of colorful townhouses, pubs and restaurants along the riverbank, although I imagine it would be even prettier in the summer when the sun is shining and the river isn't frozen over.

Another favorite spot is the quirky town of Christiania, just a short walk from Casino Copenhagen. Last year, some of the PokerNews Team spent a Friday night in a smoky jazz club after successfully dodging all the sketchy people lurking the dark streets selling weed and hovering over barrels of fire. Christiania is a hippy town within the city of Copenhagen known as "Free Town" with no laws, hence the open Marijuana sales on the street. They've got signs around the streets requesting no photos, so I obliged, having an appreciation for my life. I relied on Google for the images shown below thanks to others who were clearly more willing to risk it. I saw some market stalls and got excited thinking I could pick up some crazy jewelery, but quickly learned they were selling nothing more than bongs! I'm certainly not endorsing any sort of drug use, but it's definitely a place to see.

The "Free Town" with no laws: Christiania
The "Free Town" with no laws: Christiania

Of course, some of the other must-see sights include all the royal history in Rosenberg Castle, and current presence in Amalienborg Palace, where I may have stood out front and dreamed of being Princess Mary for just one minute. One place I regret never having the chance to visit was Strøget – the world’s longest pedestrian street full of shopping.

As for the tournament venue, my highest recommendation is a hot dog at the gas station directly across the street from Casino Copenhagen. If you’ve been there before then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, then you can thank me later. They’re far from gourmet and not exactly what nutritionists would label as “brain food,” but with the struggle to find a quick bite on your short breaks, these hot dogs are the perfect solution!

I won't be in Copenhagen this time around because I am in Sao Paulo for the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour. Gloria Balding and Sarah Grant will bring you the videos and our fabulous blogging team will do their thing, so before you religiously refresh our Live Blog when the Main Event begins on Monday, why not update yourself with Gloria's summary of how last season's stop panned out.

To stay up to date with all of our live coverage throughout the PokerStars.net European Poker Tour, follow us @PokerNews_Live on Twitter or click on the following banner:

Pumped for Sao Paulo

February 10, 2011

Tags: LAPT, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Travel, Tourism.

The PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour is returning for its fourth season next week, starting in Brazil’s concrete jungle, Sao Paulo. The LAPT has been to Brazil before (how could we forget the stunning Florianolpolis last August?) but never to Brazil’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, and never in the heart of summer, which is just perfect timing for a famed Caipirinha in one of Brazil's many bars. This will be mine and Kristy Arnett's first time to grace the paths of Sao Paulo, so as always, we’re beaming with excitement to get there and start working on more PokerNews videos. I even hear that Paulistanos (residents of Sao Paulo) love a good barbeque - I might feel right at home, in that case!

The Vitals

  1. Language: Portuguese
  2. Currency: Real (R$). R$1 = USD $0.60
  3. Weather: A perfect 82ºF average
  4. Legal Age: 18 years and up can drink and gamble

The Venue

The host venue of the LAPT is the Sheraton WTC São Paulo, the largest convention space in all of Latin America, so it’s due to hold plenty of eager players ready to cough up 5,000 BRL on February 17th for the kick off to the Main Event. With almost 300 hotel rooms and situated in the heart of the city, it's the perfect start to another successful season of the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour.

Where to Go, What to See

As I’ve never been before, I enlisted the help of a dear friend, PokerStars Blogger and resident of Sao Paulo, Sergio Prado, to guide me around his fabulous city. Of course, my most important query was, where is the best place to have a Caipirinha? According to Sergio, "there are two famous neighborhoods near Sheraton. There is Vila Olímpia, with intense nightlife on the clubs, more focused on the playboys and high society people, and there is Vila Madalena, which is kind of like SoHo, more hippie, more relaxed vibe, with a lot of bars." So as soon as I arrive, you will find me at Vila Madalena sipping on that lime-flavored goodness with my Brazilian friends.

After the success of the football video above, which we made in Florianopolis last year, I’ll be sure to take some of the boys for a rematch to the Ibirapuera Park, which Sergio calls "the biggest one in town, our little version of the Central Park."

Keeping to the nearby sights includes one that you really can’t miss "if you open the window of your Sheraton room, you'll see Estaiada Bridge, a bridge that's becoming a landmark here in Sao Paulo." By taking a look at the main picture above, you will understand why. Last, you might recognize Paulista Avenue if you’ve seen any postcards of Sao Paulo. The 2.8-kilometre thoroughfare atop of the highest point in Sao Paulo is one of the most important avenues in this city for financial institutions and retail businesses, and is home to Latin America’s most comprehensive fine-art museum, MASP. It’s easy to make your way to Paulista Avenue on a subway line and various bus routes serving this most expensive real estate area in all of Latin America.

Living with a severe shopping addiction means that the part I’m most excited about is sneaking off during dinner break to the giant shopping malls all within one mile of the venue!

For a real taste of what to expect in Sao Paulo, check out the following video with all of our PokerNews highlights from Florianopolis last season:

Follow me on Twitter! @LynnGilmartin

Another Aussie Millions is All Over

February 03, 2011

Tags: Aussie millions, Australia, Melbourne, Donnie peters, Tim duckworth, Lynn gilmartin, Patrik antonius, Pokernews, Million dollar cash game, $250, 000 Super High.

Unless you were stranded on a deserted island somewhere, I'm sure you heard all about the phenomenal record-breaking month poker saw this January. Before January 6, the record numbers for the biggest buy-in poker tournament in the world was 24 in the $100,000 Challenge, which was held at last year's Aussie Millions. Then PokerStars went and blew that figure out of the water at PCA to get 2011 off to a cracking start with a whopping 38 players in their $100,000 Super High Roller. Just two weeks later, Crown Casino managed to match exactly that figure, attracting 38 players to their $100,000 Challenge at the 2011 Aussie Millions. To follow that up, Crown then announced a last-minute addition to the 2011 Aussie Millions schedule. An addition that had the entire poker world talking. A $250,000 Super High Roller.

Of course, in between all of this you can't ignore the Million Dollar Cash Game showing some of the world's craziest poker that we've ever seen in a live reporting blog, thanks to some random Chinese businessmen who peeled themselves away from their regular high-stakes cash games in Macau to join the big boys at Aussie Millions. Dead money equals plenty of pros swarming with cash to burn. Of course, these businessmen also bought into the $250,000 Super High Roller, which then meant that so did an outrageous total of 20 players. When the whispers of this event started, it was planned to be a winner-takes-all heads-up format with a the aim of attracting six to eight players. When the event was announced as confirmed, we had heard that 13 was the confirmed number to start the day, which had everyone gasping with amazement. When the registrations continued to grow and fill out two tables, the poker media had to keep picking our jaws up off the ground. Being there was just a whole new level of excitement and I was lucky enough to catch some of the players before they took their seats.

How many trips have you been on where you've made so many videos on your phone with the intention of putting it all together for an awesome collage of memories, but then never get around to doing it? I'm a serial offender. Except for at work, where it's my job. So my favorite part of any poker event that I cover with PokerNews is when it's all over and we get to relive all the fun stuff over the course of the tournament in under five minutes with the highlight reel. The following highlights from the 2011 Aussie Millions is the perfect way to make yourself jealous of all the fun you may have missed out on, had you not joined us for the most action-packed 18 days of poker.

Obviously we like to have a bit of fun here at PokerNews. Seeing Gloria Balding's fabulous Full Tilt Poker spoofs and Kristy Arnett's hilarious Poker Peeves, I decided to take a stab at my own spoof with the help of PokerNews Bloggers Donnie Peters and Tim Duckworth in light of the recent European cheating scandal.

Patrik Antonius is one of the world's most perfect men. This is not "poker hot," this is real-world-hot. He seems to be the only man that most of my male friends openly admit to having a man-crush on. There's so much perfection to him that he gives the green-light to any straight man too nervous to admit how attractive another dude is. We have yet to find something wrong with the guy and we all wish we could see more of him. He doesn't play many live tournaments as he mentions in the following video, so it was so awesome to see him make it to the 2011 Aussie Millions Main Event Final Table.

Then of course it was awesome to see a true local take down his own home-ground Super Bowl. David Gorr may not be a household name, but he sure is a regular in the Crown Poker Room. Whether it be a $60 buy-in weekly tournament to a $10,000 Main Event, you'll see Gorr in the field. His dedication has finally paid off with one hell of a giant trophy. Congratulations David!

As for me, I'm in Australia's stunning Sunshine Coast with six of my girlfriends enjoying the perfect detox from that 18-day grind, and then? Off to Sao Paulo, Brazil for the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour... LG, Life's Good!

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