LG... Life's Good
Many people in the Philippines are exceptionally poor — living in shacks, consuming not much more than boiled rice.
Yet they are quite possibly THE happiest people on the planet.
Their connectedness is inspirational. They don’t have doors on their homes – the mothers of all the villages are outside together, helping, talking, loving. Their gratitude for the simplest things is amazing. Their perspective is grounded and they absolutely love life. They’re not stuck in their story of self-pity.
They have FUN. The kids run around the streets fearlessly, with smiles from ear to ear. Not one tantrum in sight. Every corner you turn there is someone greeting you with so much genuine joy. They’re honest. They’re real. And they are rich with unconditional love.
While we can do a lot to help Filipinos monetarily, we can also learn a heck of a few important lessons from the beautiful people in this place.
I haven’t been to any other islands other than Cebu and Mactan, but I can tell you that I absolutely LOVE it here!
In the following video, we take a REAL tour of Cebu, diving deep into the Filipino street-culture. This was one of the funnest videos I’ve made to date. An amazing experience.
This weekend PokerStars.net is hosting an ANZPT Main Event and, as always, we're in tow with all the live updates.
Each time I return to Crown, which is at least a few times per year, there is always something new to see or try - restaurants, bars, casino games, shops. The works. The entire west end of the complex went through a major renovation this year, which is located just above the Crown Poker Room. There are a few cool bars in The West End, so we took the cameras through, and it's just all part of the job to enjoy a few drinks along the way!!
I'm writing this blog as I sit in my hotel lobby in Sanremo, Italy, waiting for my taxi to Nice, where I will begin my long journey back to Australia. For the past 10 days I've been in Sanremo for the PokerStars.it European Poker Tour. When flying all the way to Italy from Australia, it would have been crazy of me to not extend my stay a few days to be able to take the time and explore, so Angel and I did just that. The original plan for our days off was to spend an afternoon or two in nearby towns, but we loved Sanremo so much that we stayed here the entire time.
Sanremo is a pretty small town, so it's easy to explore on foot. La Pigna (The Pine Cone) is the oldest part of town, and the center of almost everything you need to see. Getting lost throughout these streets narrow streets was simply awesome, as you climb the steep hills and find yourself up atop of the entire city. Check out the following to see exactly what a mean:
We stayed at Hotel Miramare Continental Palace for 10 nights. The hotel is an old castle from the 1800's, overlooking the beach, and just a short walk from the casino. Our room had the most beautiful double doors that opened out to a balcony with a view of the beach - I loved it! While I haven't stayed anywhere else in Sanremo, I still could not recommend this hotel enough - provided that you receive a room with a balcony. It's well priced, a basic continental breakfast is included and lovely hotel staff. Just make sure you get a spacious room - as every room is completely different. A couple of my teammates at PokerNews were not as lucky and were squashed into what felt like a closet.
While I've been here, the amount that everyone has been raving about Ristaurante Mare Blu has been beyond belief. The key to its popularity, on top of the fantastic menu, is that in recent years, the clever owner recognised that catering for the hundreds of poker players in town for these two weeks each year was a huge business. They adjusted their schedule and menu to suit poker players on a limited dinner break, with a featured ravioli dish that is guaranteed to be served up in speedy time. Sarah Grant and I paid the restaurant a visit to see what all the fuss was about:
Casino San Remo is situated right in the centre of La Pigna, and was conveniently our office for the EPT, which drew in 797 players who each paid €5,000 to take part in the Main Event. It was an absolute festival of poker last week with excellent side events drawing in huge fields and awarding millions and millions of euros. The main spotlight was on the Main Event though, and the ever-so-deserving Frenchman, Ludovic Lacay was the one to take that title. Here is my interview with him straight after his win.
Thanks for reading my blog, now it's time for me to head home and get ready for ANZPT Melbourne at Crown Casino!
Wow, Barcelona is AWESOME. I've been here once before and loved it, but it was a whirlwind trip. This time, I was lucky enough to have a couple of days to chill out before the PokerStars.com EPT Barcelona kicked off. I managed to wander the streets aimlessly, eating amazing paella & tapas, while drinking the best sangria I've ever tasted. The vibe in this city is awesome with a quirky, kicked-back coolness, reminding me of a giant version of St Kilda - one of my favourite areas of my hometown, Melbourne. Here's a tour around town we filmed for PokerStars.tv, showing off some of my favourite spots:
Cyprus sits at the crossroads of three continents, attracting over two million vacationers a year. A tender division exists between the Greeks and Turkish populations, making for an intriguing drive across the border where you notice the distinct division from the Turkish north and Greek south. The international airport is in Larnaka in the south, and the drive from there to the north takes just over an hour through the mostly baron inland, but once you reach the coast, the sights are incredible.
The long-standing host of the World Poker Tour is the spectacular Merit Crystal Cove, an all-inclusive, beachside resort (see images below). A day at Merit Crystal Cove consists of a buffet breakfast by the pool, snorkel session in the ocean, followed by sunbathing on the beach with free cocktails, buffet lunch by the beach, more swimming and sunbathing, buffet dinner with more free drinks, a stop by the casino with even more complimentary buffets and beverages, sleep, and repeat. Tough, huh? Throw in a world-class poker tournament, and you’ve created a poker player’s haven.
The food at Merit Crystal Cove is fantastic, The resort is in the Turkish region so expect to sample many traditional breads and deserts. The buffet includes everything you could want: fish, chicken, kebabs and pasta. Live music accompanies dinner every night, and you might even have an appearance by a belly dancer or a stray cat.
- Language: English is widely spoken across the island, but Turkish is the main language in the northern Turkish-Cypriot community where the WPT is held.
- Currency: Turkish Lira is used in the north of the island.
- Tipping: While tipping is always appreciated, a 10 percent service charge is automatically applied in all hotels and restaurants on Cyprus, so you won’t be chased out the door if you forget to tip.
- Weather: Cyprus is in its heart of summer right now, so prepare for dry Mediterranean heat. The average sea temperature climbs to around 27° C -- bliss.
- Electricity: The power across the entire island is 230 volts, so beware North Americans, save the appliance disaster by leaving your hair dryer at home.
The town of Kyrenia, a 20-minute drive from the Merit Crystal Cove resort, is surrounded by the calm Mediterranean Sea to the north and green Besparmak Mountain Range to the south, offering some of the best scenery on the island.
In town, you'll find a small harbor framed by the Kyrenia Castle, a museum holding 6,000 years of history, fantastic waterside restaurants and plenty of souvenir shops. At night, a market along the harbor sells locally arts and crafts -- perfect gift to take home.
I’ve had quite a lot of Chinese meals in my day, having 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 Dragon at the Rocks Hotel & Casino in central Kyrenia.
For some traditional food, try Niazi’s, one of the most popular restaurants in Kyrenia. It’s situated right by the water and offers all sorts of food, but you’d be missing out if you don't order its trademark “Full Kebab” with charcoal-grilled kebabs and Meze, a traditional Middle Eastern cuisine full of dipping sauces and breads.
To aid after-dinner digestion, walk along the Kyrenia harbor through the stunning night markets I mentioned. I purchased some of my favorite jewelry there and then stopped by one of the harborside bars for a nightcap and Hookahs.
Season XI of the World Poker Tour kicks off with the Merit Cyprus Classic from August 4 through 9 and PokerNews will be there bringing you all of the action from the felt.
There is a wide range of travel companion applications out there, and while I haven't tried them all, TripIt has stumped me with its brilliance so much, that I've lost any desire to use any other. For the first time in my life, I have felt the ease of what it must be like to have a personal assistant.
Gone are the days of sifting through emails in search for confirmation numbers on your way to the airport, or for your frequent flyer program details when midway through a purchase. TripIt keeps all of your travel information in one, incredibly easy-to-use location.
Simply forward your travel-related confirmation emails (flights, hotel bookings, car rentals) to email@example.com, and it will instantly (and I mean, instantly) load your day-by-day itinerary to your account, recognised by the email address you forwarded the itinerary from. Not only will TripIt record your flight times and destinations, it will even supply gates, flight duration, aircraft, destination weather conditions, and even driving directions from the airport to your hotel. Everything you provide for your trip, will be saved in one folder, which will then be closed by the recognisation of your return flight. A new folder will then be automatically created for the dates of your next trip. This feature is king for those needing to keep track of trip histories.
If George Clooney had you constantly saying "yes, that's me!" while watching Up in the Air, then this app is 100% for you. Almost all frequent flyer and hotel rewards programs allow TripIt to store your account number, status, balance, expiry date, and even recent activity on one single page... All of them, on one page. You can then click on any account to see the full activity log. Amazing!
The most important tool is the iPhone/iPad app which stores all of this information for you to refer to on the go in the simplest form. Need your gate number? Got it. How long can you spend in Duty Free during your layover? Got it. Flight delay? It'll tell you before the airline does. Need an alternate flight? It will tell you what's available for that too. It will even connect with your flight's exact aircraft on SeatExpert to show you seat reviews for when making that crucial selection.
It's literally like having a personal travel assistant in your hand. If only it could carry your luggage for you too. One day, I'm sure.
FYI - I am in no way associated with this company, nor am I receiving any kickbacks for writing this blog. I simply love sharing things that I love, and this is most definitely one of them!
I'm in Monaco for the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final. I came here straight from EPT Berlin like most others here, and I'm in heaven. This place doesn't feel real. The riches, the cars, the yachts, the cleanliness and beauty of this city all make it feel like you've just busted in on the set of a Hollywood film. Here is a quick tour of the town:
I have been in Berlin for five days now, and I am fascinated by it. The first drive from the airport to our hotel was stunning. It’s such a beautiful, cosy feeling city with incredibly friendly people. The least of what I was expecting from my very little knowledge of Germany. Touring around the town is so intriguing, with each and every stop offering a slew heartbreaking and inspirational stories to tell.
I’m in town for my first European Poker Tour since back in February 2010. After two years of being focused on the Southern Hemisphere, it’s an exciting change to come back to Europe.
My favourite video from any stop is always the one showing off the city sights. Seriously, a day of work is researching and exploring a new city. This is work??? So, here is this week's guided tour, around Berlin:
Another favourite video of mine is when we match up two poker players, usually friends, who are sharing a table and ask them questions about each other. This week, Adam Levy and Chris Moorman were put to the test. Dammit for forgetting to ask Moorman to imitate Levy's poker face though!! Sorry about that...
I've been lucky enough to spend the past week in Italy - a nation that's addicted to caffeine and carbohydrates. And rightfully so - everything here tastes so damn good!! We've been spending most of our time in Milan, but over the long weekend we went on a road trip through Florence, Pisa and a stunning little Tuscan town called Lucca. I'm in love with Lucca. It's an old medieval city full of the tiniest, winding lane ways within a giant wall. It's so easy to just walk around and happily get lost, taking in the gorgeous surroundings. There was four of us, so we rented a four-seater bicycle and rode around - it was hilarious, and a great way to move around as a group.
I’ve just returned home to Melbourne after covering the ANZPT in Sydney, Australia’s unofficial capital city. It’s the largest, and prettiest artificial eye-candy that Australia has to offer. While the natural beauty of the northern beaches of Australia are what really make this country famous, the stunning Sydney harbor with its extravagant architecture lining the magnificent water that streams throughout the neighbourhoods full of multi-million-dollar waterfront homes, really set Sydney as a town of glamour.
The day before a tournament starts is always my favourite, as that gives the video team our sole opportunity to soak up a week’s worth of Vitamin D as we tour the destination, catching as many sights through the lens as possible. Our tour of Sydney began on the Sydney Ferry – a public ferry that offers the best view of Sydney, making it my #1 recommendation to any visitor. You can catch the ferry from various spots throughout town, particularly the Pyrmont dock, just outside The Star.
We took the ferry around to Circular Quay to visit The Rocks, a preserved, historic area next that’s been transformed into a quaint, hippy neighbourhood full of pubs, cafes and markets. Having breakfast here on a sunny morning is one of my favourite things to do in Sydney.
If you didn't catch the tour video in my last blog post, you can check out these sights, and more, in the following video.
Every poker tournament run by PokerStars always comes with the added bonus of a player party complete with an open bar. This video shows just some of the antics that can come with said open bar.
The ANZPT’s fourth season kicked off with a bang, coming so close to breaking the record for this event at The Star Casino with 461 players each paying up $2,200 to play the Main Event. Almost AUD $1 million was collected, and dispersed amongst 54 lucky players who made it to the top 12%. After 29 one-hour levels spread across three days, and an epic final table that didn’t finish until well into the wee hours of the next morning, it was Gordon Huntly who defeated the lot. I had a chat with him, admittedly quite bleary eyed, after his win.