LG... Life's Good
Perth is definitely one of the world’s most liveable cities. It’s so clean, serene, and beautiful.
In the following video I give a tour of some of my favourite spots around town, including King’s Park with it’s stunning views and pristine gardens, beautiful City Beach, along with it’s must-visit place for a beachside feast, Clancy’s Fish Pub. We also drop into Cottesloe Beach where I enjoyed an incredible lunch at Indiana (although I wasn’t able to film inside – let me tell you, it is awesome).
The tour ends at Crown Perth, where we're located all this week for the Australia and New Zealand Poker Tour, filming for PokerNews.com and PokerStars.tv.
My favourite video that comes out of any event, is always the bloopers & highlights. I love looking back on all the good, and embarrassing times! Here's a compilation of myself, Kristy Arnett and Sarah Grant's finest moments.
For now, it's adios Las Vegas. Thanks for another AWESOME World Series of Poker. Next up, it's some well-needed Mexican beach time! to chillax!
It's rare that I get to write my blogs while in the subject city, but this week I arrived in Lima, Peru, a couple of days early before jumping into a crazy working mode for the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour. My initial goal was to squeeze in a quick trip to Machu Picchu, but it was harder to get to than I thought, so, unfortunately, those plans fell through. Nonetheless, roaming the stunning streets of Miraflores is certainly not a disappointing backup plan.
When I checked into my hotel, the Thunderbird Fiesta Hotel & Casino, I got my first pleasant surprise. My room, like all the others in the hotel, is a two-story loft with a kitchen equipped with a giant fridge ready to be filled with goodies from the 24-hour supermarket next door. Anyone who stays in hotels regularly knows that's an extremely rare treat! On top of that, the host venue for the LAPT is conveniently across the street. That is where I am right now, sitting in the media office of the Atlantic City Casino, a small but stylish casino, getting ready for the third stop on the LAPT's fourth season to get under way.
Miraflores is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Lima, set almost 80 meters above sea level, with some of the ritziest hotels and restaurants lining the cliffs of Costa Verde ("Green Coast"), overlooking the stunning ocean. It was here that I was lucky enough to eat at one of the prettiest restaurants I've ever been to, La Rosa Nautica (pictured below), a seafood restaurant set at the end of a pier with the waves crashing around you and a view of Miraflores atop the cliffs behind you as you eat. It was stunning! Surprisingly when the bill came it was relatively well priced for a gourmet meal in such a gorgeous setting, and considering the menu had no prices listed in it. That's usually my trusty indicator that I can't afford it!
On the cliffs above La Rosa Nautica sits Larcomar, a gorgeous three-story, open-air mall, overlooking the ocean, full of shops, restaurants and, what's said to be two of the best nightclubs in all of Lima. I've only been to one of them, Aura, and it was pretty awesome. It was here that I had my first "Reggaeton dancing experience." All I can say is that it's certainly different to the way we dance back in Australia! The only downside to Larcomar is that the complex is certainly not something typical of Peru, lacking the local culture. This is where you'll find the true Americanization of the area with Tony Roma's, Burger King, Pizza Hut and all that jazz tucked into what I call the "American Corner." If you ignore the corner and take in the stunning view, especially at sunset, then you will remember where you are again.
Speaking of sunset, the perfect place to watch it, if you've brought your girlfriend along, or picked one up on the way, is at El Parque del Amor (The Park of Love), just a 10-minute walk along the cliff side from Larcomar. Some say it's a poor smaller imitation of Gaudi's Park Guell in Barcelona with its rounded mosaic benches and romantic quotes tiled into the walls. In the middle of the perfectly manicured gardens is a giant statue of two lovers embraced in a kiss just to set the scene. Warning: skip this and watch the sunset elsewhere if you're feeling a little lonely -- all the loved-up couples surrounding you will probably just make you cringe.
My last recommendation is to take a trip to downtown Miraflores, right by Parque Central, to enjoy a pizza at any of the restaurants along Calle de las Pizzas ("Pizza Street"). It's a quaint little street lined with bricked restaurants similar to something you would see around Europe. There are a few pubs and bars that fill up at night, so it's a great place to come for a drink or two. The biggest bonus? Free Wi-Fi! After a few minutes of heckling from various restaurant servers we decided on Mezzaluna Cafe & Bar for one of its specialty pizzas and my first sip of the popular local soda, Inca Kola. The Inca Kola was average (perhaps choosing the Diet option was to blame) but of course the pizza was delicious. Although much to my disappointment, the Wi-Fi wasn't working, so there went my opportunity for on-the-spot TwitPics.
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!
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!
There’s no place like Melbourne. Yes, I’m probably biased as it’s my home, but there are just so many reasons to love it! It hosts some of the world’s greatest sporting events and festivals, and the amount of passion around food and wine is amazing. Being away from home makes you appreciate all the little things you take for granted as a kid, so I decided to write about some of my greatest Aussie appreciations.
One of the most common topics of conversation an American will have with an Australian will have to do with how grotesque Vegemite is. The key is to use it sparingly, people! The first time you tried the dark brown food paste made from yeast extract, your Aussie mate probably thought it would be funny to spread it thick like peanut butter on your toast. That’s not cool. Even Aussies don’t eat it that way.
Care for a Snag?
I was lucky enough to be home for the Australian Federal Election. Without getting into the politics of it, all I can say is, unlike in the U.S., voting is mandatory. It was almost a week ago, and we still have no result because the majority of the voters were uneducated, or all the 18-year-olds voted for the “Australian Sex Party” for a laugh.
Besides getting to revisit my primary school where I realized how small everything is that I used to think was gigantic, my major highlight on every Election Day is the good old Australian Sausage Sizzle. Anything that draws a crowd in this country, no matter what the purpose, even if it’s just a Saturday afternoon at Bunnings Warehouse to pick up some timber for your home renovation, will get the local and mighty friendly Aussies to fire up the barbecue and start selling “snags” out front.
A Normal Gym Surrounding
I tweeted last week about the vast difference between a late morning gym session in Melbourne compared to one in Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, silicone on tiny toned bodies became the norm. Suddenly coming back to Melbourne was a positive snap back to reality that the world isn’t actually full of strippers, and having a gym full of mothers off duty instead was quite accommodating on the self esteem.
We’re in a league of our own with our lingo down here. Today I was in the post office and the woman helping me said “Ok, no worries, I’ll post this off for ya and then Bob’s your uncle!” meaning, she will get the job done. Our wacky way with words led me to put Joe Cada, Phil Hellmuth, Barry Greenstein and Erick Lindgren up to an Aussie Lingo challenge during the 2010 World Series of Poker.
Home, sweet home to the Crown Poker Room. Again, call me biased, but it’s definitely my favourite place to play poker. Perhaps it has something to do with all the familiar faces, or the 70 tables they have spaced out so generously across the huge room so you’re not left squashed in like sardines, or the selection of weekly tournaments, some that I can actually afford. If you want to rub shoulders with some of your favourite AFL footballers, then the Crown Poker Room on a weekday afternoon is the place to be.
Without a doubt, the best time to be in Melbourne is the second half of January. The sun is beaming, the beer gardens around the city are bumping, the beaches are decorated with tanned bods, the biggest tennis pros are in town for the Australian Open, and of course, the likes of Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan grace the land down under for the Aussie Millions, an event that has put Crown Casino on the poker map.
The second biggest tournament series that the Crown Casino hosts is the Victorian Poker Championship, which is happening right now. I was lucky enough to play in the Ladies Event on Tuesday night, which attracted over 10 tables of beautiful Australian women, such as Jeanie Hachem, Amanda De Cesere, and Mieke Buchen, who you may recognize from the 2010 Aussie Millions coverage. I didn’t even make it to the first break, so that’s pretty much the end of my story on that event! The highlight of the Vic Champs, though, is the State of Origin. Its slogan - "State versus State, Mate versus Mate" -- is pretty self-explanatory. If you haven’t noticed already, Aussies are pretty proud of their turf, so having groups of mates battle it out to represent their state is just asking for a passionate event that would resemble something as loud and crazy as what you’d find on the Latin American Poker Tour. Our very own Heath “TassieDevil” Chick had an impressive third-place finish, but it was James “Andy McLEOD” Obst who not only led South Australia to victory but took the first-place prize of $11,000.
The $10,200 High Stakes Hold'em and $2,700 Main Event, both set to be doozies, are coming up this weekend. If you can’t join me in the Crown Poker Room, then the PokerNetwork Live Reporting Team will provide the next best thing.
The Must List
If you’re lucky enough to visit Melbourne, here are some of my recommendations.
- Eat: World Bar – I love this place. It has such a cozy feel to it with indoor fireplaces and live music in a gorgeous spot by the river. The food is amazing, and the bar offers 99 wines and 80 beers from all over the world. On a Sunday afternoon you could be lucky enough to catch my gorgeous friend Coby Grant, singing some acoustic tunes.
- Drink: Whether it’s day or night, St Kilda Beach is a great spot to head to for a drink. At night, drop in to any bar along Fitzroy Street, and you’re guaranteed to share the dance floor with some of the most stunning girls in the city. For a “Sunday arvo” session in the sun, Vinyard on Acland Street is the best spot for a crowded but atmospheric beer outside by the beach. If you prefer a bit of space, then Metropole on Fitzroy Street would suit you a little better, and you could even pick up some gourmet wood-fired pizzas for only $5 each during the week.
- Stay: Crown. If you like the smell of rich mahogany and (want to) own many leather-bound books, then the five-star Crown Towers is your spot. If you’re more on the modern end of the spectrum, then the Crown Promenade or the newly-opened Crown Metropole are both impressive, not to mention super convenient, with the Crown Poker Room just downstairs. Which leads me to…
- Play: Crown Poker Room, d'uh.
- See: The Great Ocean Road. If you’ve driven along California’s Highway 1, Victoria’s Highway 1 blows that away. If you can’t “keep right” on our roads in a rental car, there are plenty of day-trip tour companies, too.
- Shop: Chapel Street in South Yarra. This is the fashion hub of Melbourne and a great spot for some of the best cafes, restaurants and bars in the city. At night this area can give a slight reflection of the Jersey Shore. But if you love that, then head to Lygon Street – Melbourne’s “Little Italy” – for some of the best Italian food and slicked hair you’ll ever come across.
Cyprus is the third-largest island in the Mediterranean, sitting at the crossroads of three continents, attracting somewhere around 2.4 million vacationers per year. Hundreds of poker pros will be gracing the Mediterranean shores of Cyprus this month for the 2010 Merit Cyprus Classic. I was lucky enough to join them last year on a trip I’ve ranked as one of my favorite on my busy PokerNews schedule, so I’m here to fill you in on my tips and adventures before you head over for the return of the event next week.
The Important Stuff
- Language: English is widely spoken across the island, but Turkish is the main language in the northern Turkish-Cypriot community where the tournament is held.
- Currency: Turkish Lira is used in the north of the island. We were able to exchange our dollars hassle-free at the venue’s casino cage.
- Tipping: While tipping is always appreciated worldwide, a 10 percent service charge is applied in all hotels and restaurants, so you won’t be chased out the door if you don’t tip.
- Weather: Cyprus is in its heart of summer right now so prepare for dry Mediterranean heat. What more motivation do you need to wake up early everyday and jump in the ocean? The average sea temperature climbs up to around 27° C, so it may take some serious self-control to drag yourself out of the water and into the casino every day.
- Electricity: The power voltage across the entire island is 230 volts, so all you North Americans should save the appliance disaster and space in your luggage by leaving your blow dryer at home.
- Legal Age: You must be 18 to gamble in Cyprus, but if you’re 17 you’re free to slip in a few alcoholic drinks while watching your friends on the rail.
Without delving into a touchy subject, there is a strong division between the Greeks and Turks on the island of Cyprus. The international airport is located in the south of the island, occupied by the Greeks. To get to the venue in the north part of the island, you must cross the border into the Turkish occupied area. If the change of language on the road signs isn’t enough of a distinction from one side to the other, then perhaps the gigantic army barracks and heavily armed guards surrounding each side of the border is enough of an indication.
Foreigners can freely cross the border. If you have a taxi driving you through, the driver will assist you with passport control. If you’re considering hiring a car, however, be sure to rent the car from the south (at the airport), enabling you to drive it to the north. If you hire from the north, your insurance coverage will not allow you to drive it to the south.
The luxurious five-star Merit Crystal Cove Hotel & Casino sits on its own private beach in the north of the island, offering everything a poker player needs for their dream getaway, from all-inclusive buffet meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, traditional entertainment at night, crystal clear beaches, and of course, the Grand Casino Club. So if you happen to find yourself eliminated early, look at the bright side: you get to spend more time on the hotel's private beach with free (strong!) cocktails and a buffet feast by the water.
Check out last year's tour of the venue.
See the Sights
Although the resort has everything you need, if you can spare a day to drag yourself away from the beach, or the felt, you should take a 20-minute drive into the town of Kyrenia, surrounded by the calm Mediterranean Sea to the north and greenery of the Besparmak Mountain Range to the south, offering some of the best scenery on the island.
Within the town is a small harbor framed by the Kyrenia Castle, home to many historical artifacts and is the current resting place of the world’s oldest shipwreck. You can visit the harbor to relax and soak up the 6,000 years of history, have a bite to eat alongside all the yachts, or spend an afternoon shopping.
Into the Night
I’ve had quite a lot of Chinese meals in my day with such a strong Asian influence in Australia, but I can still easily claim that one of the best Chinese feasts I’ve ever had was in Cyprus at The Dragon, located at the Rocks Hotel & Casino in central Kyrenia. If you don’t believe me, ask Gus Hansen and Huck Seed, who also dined there at the same time.
For some traditional food, hit up Niazi’s, one of the most popular restaurants in Kyrenia. It’s situated by the water and offers all sorts of food, but you’d be crazy not to order their trademark “Full Kebab,” with charcoal-grilled kebabs and accompanying Meze, a traditional Middle Eastern cuisine full of dipping sauces and breads. I walked out feeling six months pregnant.
For an after-dinner-digest, walk along the Kyrenia harbor through the night markets. It was here that I purchased some of my favorite jewelry, hung out with some stray dogs, and then stopped by one of the harborside bars for a nightcap and Hookahs.
Coverage of the 2010 Merit Cyprus Classic starts next week and the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be bringing you all the action from the felt and as always follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news.
I've been in the wonderful land of Brazil for more than three days now for the PokerStars.net LAPT Florianopolis. Writing the PokerNews Jet Set guide got me pretty pumped to get here, and all expectations have certainly been met so far, except for the weather!
Jesus Loves Me, I Hope
We got off to a rough start with some delayed flights that left us stranded in Rio de Janeiro for a day. It certainly wasn’t the worst that could happen, as it allowed me to tick off another city on my map of "been-there-done-that!" Our goal was to check out Jesus. We didn’t quite know where to go and with all five of us not speaking a lick of Portuguese, we simply pointed to “centro” on our trusty map and off we went. We were successfully dropped in town, not-so-coincidentally directly in front of a restaurant with “American Bar” plastered across the wall.
Jesus was hiding his face behind a giant cloud curtain, so after a typical pay-per-kilo feast and a mosey around the city, we decided to get closer to catch a glimpse of the iconic Christ statue. Still no love. We jumped in another taxi to the airport feeling a little rejected.
After more than 24 hours in transit, we finally made it to Florianopolis, known as Floripa by the locals. I had anticipated winter weather, but who thinks to bring boots and coats to South America? Not a naïve Australian. With one pair of jeans and seven summer dresses, I’m in big trouble this week with 10 degrees Celsius weather and pouring rain.
Our first project at any stop is to film all the city sights for our opening video. Getting motivated to brave the cold was tough, but it ended up a really enjoyable day. We’re staying at Costão do Santinho, one of the best beachside resorts in Floripa, which sits within a giant forest. On every corner you turn is another pool overlooking the beach, and all accommodation is set within individual villas. We took a hike through the mountain on Santinho beach, finding a small lagoon and sand dunes peeking through the mass of bamboo. Next up was Lagoa da Conceição where the team enjoyed a beer by the water. Check out the finished product:
How Do You Say…?
You can always rely on the language barrier to add a little entertainment to travel adventures. I like to use Google’s translator tool to allow me to tweet to my Portuguese friends. I decided to tweet my frustrations at how much I suck at speaking the language. Little did I know that the term suck may translate directly, but the use is reserved only for describing a certain related sexual activity. Much to the entertainment of Andre Akkari, Felipe Ramos, Maridu Mayrink and hundreds of other Brazilians, I just tweeted what seemed to be a fulfillment of some wildest dreams. An influx of @mentions and new Brazilian followers came through, along with tears of laughter at dinner that night as Akkari proceeded to show every Portuguese-speaker in the restaurant.
PokerNews vs PokerStars
A spontaneous after-dinner-soccer match is standard in this region of the world. Armed with the video cameras, the PokerNews team and Team PokerStars Pros Joe Cada, Andre Akkari and Gualter Salles went on a mission to find the football field. Brazil defeated USA ― no surprise there. The video will go up in the next couple of days so check it out on PokerNews.com. The next challenge will be Sarah Grant and me in a Latina dance-off against Team PokerStars Pros Maridu Mayrinck and Veronica Dabul. Again, no surprises there who will come out on top! Stay tuned.
Oh Yeah, Poker!
Of course, the reason we’re all here is for the fourth stop on the PokerStars.net Latin American Poker Tour’s third season. All of the Latin American PokerStars Team Pros are in town, along with Joe Cada and Victor Ramdin to mix it up, PartyPoker’s Felipe Ramos, and hundreds of lucky online qualifiers who make the field nice and juicy. All eyes will be on Argentinean Team PokerStars Pro Nacho Barbero – not only did he set LAPT history by being the first Team PokerStars Pro to win an LAPT Main Event in Punta del Este, but he then smashed that record by backing it up with a second LAPT Main Event title immediately after, in Lima. Can he do it a third time? Anything’s possible!