LG... Life's Good
Last week I paid my third visit to Uruguay’s pride and joy – Punta del Este – the loyal host of the Latin American Poker Tour. The four -day event drew a poker-playing crowd of 375 players to the plush Mantra Resort Hotel and Spa.
With Punta del Este being known as the place to be between December and February, people often ask why we go in winter. Well, there are many reasons, such as the ability for poker players to take over the town with ease, or at the very least, the Mantra Resort, without all the congestion of half a million tourists and the extraordinary prices that come with the high-demand summer months. While laying on the beach soaking up the rays is no longer an option in winter, the surf, and peacefulness at this time of year is bliss for a beachside getaway. You can check out the stunning sights of Punta del Este, and the Mantra, in the following video.
After three days of play, I found myself watching the most exciting final table I have yet to watch, and that was thanks to my boyfriend, Angel Guillen, who earned a seat. This event means a lot to him in Punta del Este, as it is basically where his career began, back in 2009, when he finished in third place of LAPT Season 2.
One of the luckiest hands of Angel's career to date hit him on Day 2. Here's Martin Harris' recount of the hand from PokerStars Blog:
“Guillen open from early position got callers in Dobrovolskiy (cutoff) and Rubinsztain (small blind). The flop came and a smorgasbord of bets ensued, leaving Rubinsztain and Guillen all in and Dobrovokskiy with only a little left.
Indeed, there were so many chips in the middle of the table, it looked a lot like our plates would at dinner, the cuts of beef, sausages, and chicken claiming nearly every square inch available.
Dobrovolskiy managed to find an empty space on the felt to table his . Guillen showed . And Rubinsztain turned over the hand that currently beat them both -- !
Rubinsztain had to think he was about to be served a nice, fortuitous helping of chips just before dinner. But the turn brought the , a card that complicated things enough to upset even the strongest constitution. Guillen had made a set and was now alive with a draw to a full house or four of a kind. And Dobrovolskiy, too, had improved his slim chances just a touch and was hoping for a jack to fill a gutshot to Broadway.
Then came the river... the ! Just before the rest of us filled up, Guillen had filled up... and how!
A whopping 550,000-chip pot was pushed Guillen's way, catapulting him into second place behind leader Juan Garcia. Dobrovolskiy was left with table scraps for chips with less than 60,000. And Rubinsztain was out in 25th place, having the rest of the night to ponder over his unfortunate fate.”
That hand left everyone speechless, most especially, Guillen. With that boost of chips he was then able to carry them through and secure himself a seat at the final table. He didn’t let the fact that he was the short stack get him down though. He was so determined to use this second chance to scoop that trophy he had come so close to doing back in Season 2.
As the payouts progressed through the final table, we were eventually left with just two players: Angel Guillen and Marcelo Ramos Da Fonseca. I found myself in this position...
As Dave Behr described, “Guillen and Marcelo Fonseca played a tough heads-up battle. Fonseca had a small chip lead to start and never relinquished it. Both players preferred to keep pots small pre-flop; most raises were for the minimum and three-bets were almost non-existent. After the flop, bets were hard to come by as the two men were very careful with all but the strongest hands.”
However, it had to end, and unfortunately for Guillen, Fonseca was dealt when Guillen shoved his . The three outs that would save Guillen were nowhere to be seen.
Securing a third and second place on the same final table is such an incredible feat by Guillen and I couldn’t be more proud. In Season 2 he then went on to huge success at the 2009 World Series of Poker, so lets hope that pattern continues!
Fonseca was an absolute gentleman and a fantastic player, which made it much easier to handle one of the toughest moments of my career to date. You can check out the winner interview below, in which I must say I impressed the pants off myself with keeping composed! Sending huge congratulations to both men, and to all that made the final table!
Since Black Friday, so many US poker players have been on the move, with a handful making their way to Mexico's Mayan Riviera. Most North Americans know it for Spring Break's ultimate destination: Can Cun; but just 45 minutes south is a little beachside town known as Playa del Carmen (which Chad Holloway wrote all about on PokerNews recently).
That's where I spent three weeks with my boy, just livin' the dream by the crystal clear blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. A good friend of Angel's, JC Alvarado, has lived her for two years and Shaun Deeb just joined him a few months ago. Those guys left for Europe during WSOPE and EPT San Remo, so Angel and I snapped up Shaun's empty penthouse by the beach. Seriously, it was heaven on earth.
On our first weekend, Angel took me down to Tulum for my early birthday spoiling. We stayed at the Ana y Jose Hotel and Spa. Amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing!!! I'm going to let the pictures do the talking.
Tulum's main feature is the ancient Mayan Ruins. I just loved visiting this place. The energy was incredible, and obviously so was the setting!
For two of the weeks there I was going to school learning Spanish. I absolutely loved being "back at school" and that's given me an extra urge to study again. But first I have to nail this language which is going to take a loooooong time. I was expecting to be studying with mostly northern american's, but surprisingly of the 15 or so people that I met, only two were American! There was such a range of cultures, from Irish to German to Swiss to Aussie.
I felt like a bit of a local after three weeks living in Playa del Carmen, and while I obviously haven't tried everything, I of course came away with some of my top places of what I did try. Here they are:
• Best Place for Breakfast: Green Box has the best bagels I think I've ever tasted and yummy freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. It's an awesome little shack sitting on the corner of Calle 38 Norte and 5ta Avenida.
• Best Place for Lunch: Fri-Das on 5ta Avenida near the corner of Calle Corazon. Everything we had there was amazing.
• Best Place for Dinner: Byblos on Calle 14 Norte and 5ta Avenida. Surprisingly this was right out the front of my Spanish school and I had no idea! I never gave the place any credit as it looks really basic, but when JC arrived back in town he took us to his all-time fav restaurant in town which he goes to religiously, and just as he promised, the food was incredible. Seriously, incredible.
• Best School to Learn Spanish: IMAC at International House - located on the corner of Calle 14 Norte and 5ta Avenida - stunning location!
• Best Facial: There's a little spa tucked away in the middle of two central resorts just off 5ta Avenida - Mosquito Blue and La Tortuga Hotel & Spa. There's just a couple of spa rooms and it feels like they're hidden inside a little secret garden. Most importantly, the facial was awesome, and that's coming from a well experienced opinion!
• Best Hang Out: Canibal Royal at Grand Coco Bay, it was our "local hangout" and is clearly on my list for the obv reasons displayed in the photo below
Next time you're planning a holiday, or perhaps if you're looking for a new poker-playing-home, then I highly recommend Playa del Carmen. Incredible place!
We've just launched a new concept on PokerNews called "Seat Open with...", so naturally I tested it out on my PIC and Team PokerStars Pro Angel Guillen. What do you think?
In Part One, Angel opens up about his life before poker, how he got involved in the game and how it all began to look up for him.
In Part Two he discusses his life on the road, playing poker in Mexico and the affects he's experienced from "Black Friday"
For the first time ever, the PokerStars.net LAPT has come to Colombia. I've been in Medellin for four days now, and like every other Latin American country, I absolutely love it. The people are simply the friendliest in the world and I just can't help but smile as I walk around the streets. It's such a severe contrast having come here from EPT London. I did have a great time there with an unexpected (and extremely welcomed) heat wave! Everyday was no less than 26 degrees. One day even going as high as 30 - in October! My boyfriend and I hired those bikes you can pick up at any corner and rode around town - we loved it! The only let down is the vibe of the people. Of course there are always exceptions as I do have many friends who are from, or live in, London, and they are beautiful people, but from my experience with the hotel staff and the general gist of most shop attendants, waiters, etc - people just don't give a damn. Perhaps I just had an unfortunate string of bad luck with my interactions, but that's the vibe that I was left with when my boyfriend and I happily boarded the train/ferry combo over to Ireland and escape the gloom!! Our time in Ireland was brilliant. I was born in Dublin but moved to Australia when I was just a baby. I've been back many times throughout my 26 years to visit my extended family, and every time I have a blast. This time was particularly fun with Angel and I hiring a car and road-tripping across to Galway for a few days. We stayed in Galway City where I saw my friend (and future singing superstar) Coby Grant play in a local pub as part of her European tour. We then drove up to a stunning castle called Kylemore Abbey where we stayed the night in a quaint little Bed & Breakfast. It was then on to Dublin for the chaos to begin with my crazy, booze-hound cousins!
Now, we're on dinner break of Day 2 in the LAPT Colombia Main Event. It was a huge turnout with 681 players - the most players we've ever seen in any LAPT. The poker room of Casino Allegre has been chaos all day, everyday with the hundreds of players plus even more hundreds of spectators coming to watch and support their friends. Of course with the emotion that comes with a Latin American game of poker, the excitement is rife and the chaos is nothing but enjoyable!
On the first night we had the the PokerStars Welcome Drinks at a bar called The Charlee in Zona Rosa - it was AWESOME. The bar was on the rooftop of the hotel, up on the 19th floor, surrounding a pool and overlooking the spectacular views that come with Medellin, no matter where you stand. Check out this video from PokerStars.tv:
The city centre is in a valley with the 2.5 million residents sprawled up on mountains surrounding the city. Colombia is most famous for it's beautiful women and it's amazing coffee (yes, there's one other thing Colombia is so famous for but I'm happy to say I haven't crossed paths with anything related!) but you might not know that the city is full of public artwork by law, giving it a funky vibe of an outdoor gallery. Roads, buildings, parks, everywhere has some sort of sculpture, painting or construction that's aesthetically pleasing - it's such an awesome addition to a city that I would love to see more cities across the world adopt. You can see that, and more, in the following PokerNews video:
For more videos from the PokerStars.net LAPT, check out this link. For now, it's back to work! LG xxx
I just had a nice and relaxing week at home in Melbourne, Australia after a whirlwind trip to Uruguay for the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour in the awesome beachside party town of Punta del Este earlier this month. The LAPT’s are notorious for having fast-paced final tables, but I rarely see one over in less than five hours! That’s what happened when Alex Komolomi entered the final table of eight with 35% of the chips in play. He dominated his way to heads-up in just over three hours, and after a couple of unscheduled breaks and one chip-lead swap that only lasted a few minutes, we had a winner in lightning speed. The great part was that Komolomi was a local, not only being the first Uruguayan LAPT champion, but also winning it on his home turf. He was so nervous after his win that he politely requested he do his interviews after calming down for half an hour! What a sweetheart. As the event was drawing to a close with just the eight players returning for the fourth day of play, we put together a little string of highlights, taking out the hardwork for you if you failed to follow along at the time, rolling all the fun into one video.
The Mantra Resort, where the LAPT was held, was amazing. It is the middle of winter right now and freezing cold in Uruguay, but the sun came out to say hello on one of the days while Christian de Leon was drowning his sorrows after an unsuccessful LAPT. This was my favorite interview of the entire week simply because of the setting. You’ll notice that it’s not a PokerNews video, but actually a PokerStars.tv video, which the team here at PokerNews also produce.
Once the tournament ended it would have been a waste to come all this way and then just go straight home, so I added a couple of days to relax before the long journey back to Australia. Angel Guillen and I headed over to Buenos Aires for two days. I had no idea how amazing that place is. Leo Fernandez said to us one morning when convincing us to go "it's like Paris" at which Angel laughed, but now I understand why he said that. Argentinians are like the French, the walk with so much confidence and are so well dressed - and I didn't see a single overweight person there! Jose Ignacio Barbero took us to his "favourite restaurant in the whole world" - Osaka. It's in the heart of the stunning Palermo area and is a combination of Japanese and Peruvian food. It was incredible! He also recommended Guido's - a little Italian restaurant right by our hotel (across from the zoo so it was a bit of a stinky walk). You don't get given a menu here, you just get fed anything and everything the owner feels like feeding you! As you're sitting down the appetisers are already coming, and all the meals are like home-cooked Nona's specialties. It was so cosy inside, I loved it!
I’m writing this as I’m sitting on my third of four flights in my trek out of Lima, Peru, after an awesome week at the PokerStars.net LAPT. As always I had an amazing time. It’s really hard not to with the awesome team PokerStars has both behind the scenes and on the felt, and of course the stunning destinations that each stop takes us to.
This time I was lucky enough to return to the classy little town of Miraflores – one of the most upscale neighborhoods of Lima. My first visit was on a warm and welcomed break from the Rio for a week during the WSOP last year when the LAPT went to Peru for the first time in season three. Of course, that visit was rushed with the need to get back to Las Vegas, so this time around I took the liberty of arriving a day early to really take in the sights around town, as I wrote about last week.
Once the rest of the PokerNews team arrived, including our new Aussie hostess Nichole Pickering for her "initiation," it was straight into Trojan Horse working mode. I was hosting videos for PokerStars.tv that week, and our first shoot was of all the beautiful sights around Mirafloress, which you can check below.
Larcomar is one of my favorite spots in Miraflores,. If you didn’t catch it in the video above, it’s a three-story mall built into the cliff’s edge overlooking the ocean, equipped with shopping, restaurants, cinemas and two of Lima’s best nightclubs. On the eve of the Main Event, I took Team PokerStars Pro Christian De Leon on a little shopping trip. He and fellow Mexican Team Pro Angel Guillen are definitely one of the best-dressed team of pros at the felt. Angel was supposed to join us on this shopping tour but after a late-night snack at the poker table he was bed-ridden with food poisoning. The moral of his story? Don’t order creamy pasta in the middle of the night in some foreign casino’s poker room! So Christian and I had set aside a couple of hours to find him a “Day 2 Shirt.” Little did I know that this man can shop. The first shop we went into was also our last, and we both came out with our hands full.
As I mentioned, Nicki Pickering joined us in Lima for her first-ever gig with PokerNews. Of course, that then required an official initiation with a calling of the clock! You can get to know Nicki a little better in the following “sixty-seconds” – lets face it, I’m a rule-breaker when it comes to the minute-limit in these videos, athough I’m sure many would appreciate it with some of the “post-minute” questions I threw at her.
For a little “team bonding,” Nicki and I decided to enter the LAPT Ladies Event with our iPhones glued to PokerNews and microphones ready to go for break-time interviews, of course. I’m not going to lie; I was pretty impressed with the two of us at the multi-tasking awesomeness that took place over these two hours. The players always seem so pleasantly surprised when they see us actually playing for a change rather than always standing over them. So besides having our Mexican backers railing us, it was also side-bet-central around our table of ladies. Those who had faith in me were deservedly paid off as I managed to make it to the money with a three-way chop. There were only two tables, so it’s nothing to write home about, but obviously I was still excited, seeing as how I managed to not only last longer than Nicki, but I actually knocked her out. That’s what happens when the new girl challenges the old duck!
FML. I am proud to say that I’m at least six-months clean of voicing this phrase.
As I once contributed to PokerNews' Top 10 Most Overused Poker Terms, does your life really suck that hard when you can walk your sorry butt on your two perfectly healthy legs out the door of the casino and into your fancy car, or smash your computer mouse against your brand new 17-inch Macbook Pro sitting atop your state-of-the-art grinding station at home? It must really suck to be you.
Most of us forget that we control our minds; our minds don't control us. So when it feels so bad to always fall to the negative, why do we do it so often? Why do we focus on what went wrong or what we lost or what we don’t have? What about everything that went right in the process, and the abundance of what we do have?
You have chosen to play poker, so you have made an agreement with yourself to accept the swings. If you haven’t, then you need to reconsider your career. The true deciding factor on whether you’re a winning player in any situation is the way you process those situations. Despite winning or losing in a monetary sense, what did you learn? Every time we sit at a table, we learn. That’s why we keep coming back for more. During the 2010 World Series of Poker, Australian poker player Peter Aristidou gave me a valuable piece of advice for every time I take my seat at a cash game. As soon as I buy in for $300, I need to consider that money gone. It’s no longer mine. So when I make a trip to the cage after a session, even if I don’t need a rack, it’s still a win. That attitude allows me to stand up from any “losing” situation with a positive attitude about what I learned in that session and why I’m empty handed. If I can’t get past losing the $300, then I should have been
drinking cocktails grinding in the $.50/$1 at MGM instead.
Eckhart Tolle describes in his book, The Poker of Now, that unease, anxiety, tension, stress and worry are caused by fear of the future. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by focusing on the past. What about the present? What just happened at the table is already in the past. See what happened, learn from it, but then let the emotion go. Don’t go into the situation for hours with resentment, focusing on how awful the other player was or telling bad-beat stories to all of your friends about how bad you run. Does that actually change anything for you? Quite possibly, yes, but in a negative way. Convincing yourself that you’re doomed, and sitting at a table chanting, “FML, I run so bad,” to yourself will just encourage that behavior to continue while you block yourself from seeing the valuable lessons being handed to you.
Focus on this moment, this second, right now. You have the choice to make it a joyful second. And the next. How? Well, how do you drop a hot plate that’s in your hand or a heavy piece of luggage? You feel it, and then simply decide to let it go for relief. It’s your choice.
The vital lesson in all of this is to keep learning. Mexican Team PokerStars Pro Angel Guillen's opinion on a poker player’s philosophy is, "Don't be passive about it, maybe you think you can't change things so you do nothing, but there is always an action to be taken, maybe it's just having a better attitude in all situations. Is 'hoping for good things' going to make the difference? Well, that's for you to believe or not. But I'm sure anxiety, stress and frustration are all taking away energy from you and making you weaker." An "oh well" attitude is not necessarily positive thinking. That’s being passive rather than open-minded enough to look at what you can do to improve next time. Feeling and then letting go of the frustration, taking the lesson and using it to your advantage the next time you sit down, while bringing a positive attitude for your new game -- that's being open-minded.
Positive thinking takes time, and I’m still often guilty of falling to the negative, but simply removing those three evil letters from your vocabulary is the perfect start. I suggest you replace them with these two letters: LG… Life’s Good!