Tag Archives: Poker player

WSOP 2017 Adventures (part 1)

1 Aug

I’m sat in a bar in San Jose watching Scott Blumstein catch a 2 on the river and win the WSOP Main Event for $8,150,000 and officially closing the proceedings at the Rio for 2017. Like pretty much every poker player around the world, you imagine this moment with you as the main protagonist, but accept that this year wasn’t your year to win the main.

2017 World Series of Poker

Scott Blumstein – WSOP Main Event 2017 Winner

Let’s jump back to late June though, when I arrived in Vegas with a schedule and a dream…

After one year, it was great to be back in Vegas with a whole host of games before me. The plan was to play 2 bracelet events (WSOP Ladies & the ME) and lots of smaller tournaments at various casinos.

I would be here for the next 18 days or so and couldn’t wait to get to the tables.

I’ve stayed at a ton of different places in Vegas over the years, mainly for pleasure and each have their own benefits vs. cost and convenience.

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The Wynn 

After leaving it later than I planned and weighing up options I booked any initial 10 days at the Wynn at a super good rate. I’d worry about the week after that further down the line.

It was a good choice, the Wynn was the nicest place I’ve stayed on the strip; it has a measured balance of class, never being too busy and good service. Also the standard rooms are very spacious, beautifully decorated and very quiet, which is important when getting good nights sleep between the poker sessions.

 

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With Dara & Traian at a beautiful buffet room @Wynn 

But most importantly it had the Wynn Summer Classic running with some great structured games and decent fields you love to play against.

As always I spent my first couple of days sleeping off Jetlag ( I hate playing and being tired) and catching up with friends already there.

After a couple of fun lunches and dinners with Unibet team I ended up (against my better judgement) taking a helicopter ride across the strip with my friend Dara who had this included in a package he had won playing online and kindly invited me to join him.

I’m not great with heights, but a flight across the strip is a fascinating overview of all that Vegas is famous for and definitely an experience to recommend, even if I was glad to get my feet back on the ground.

Anyhow, onto poker and my initial few games. With the Wynn catering to my penchant to getting up late and then jumping into well structured games- it made sense to start there.

My first game was a $600 $250k GTD Wynn Summer Classic event with over 900 runners. I was comfortable with my starting table -also finally I was running better than the proceeding months leading up to Vegas. Like all players you play your way through these patches knowing that if you keep doing things right, things will fall into place a little more over time.

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Happy face after first cash of the trip 🙂

I won a couple of flips and had a full double up with Q10ss when flopping trips v AA.

I comfortably made day 2 with a decent stack and was eyeing the payouts on my return; there was over $80k for first place!

Unfortunately day 2 didn’t go to plan and I bust in a cooler spot when running my sub 20bb stack into QQ for a min cash. Nevertheless I was feeling very positive and happy about a great start to the trip and I was looking forward to the next game.

The next day I was back downstairs in the Wynn for the tasty buffet with Marc & Dara and then we decided to head to Nataly’s room for a friendly poker game 🙂

 

It was a fun day off before another session at theWynn. This time $400, $50k GTD one day event where Marc Convey & I both made it to the money. We had a great time playing at the Wynn poker room; the venue is spacious, clean and modern and it’s always great atmosphere there.  They provide prompt and efficient table service including drinks such as hot chocolate, smoothies and Fiji water and they have very competent TD’s.

After locking the second cash of the trip, It was time for some late night dinner with friends and some rest. Next day I played another game at the Wynn and grinded may way to 16th place & another cash. I was in the zone and warming up for the WSOP events 🙂

After my husband John arrived Sunday we enjoyed dinner with Kenny Halleart, Nataly & Marc at one of my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas –  LAVO. It was good catching up with Kenny and hearing all about his intense WSOP schedule & a very successful summer so far over tasty Italian food & wine. Well done to Kenny who ended up having another impressive run in the Main Event finishing 64th/7221 for over $100k.

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Dinner at LAVO

Monday it was time for a change of scenery and over to Planet Hollywood for the $250k guaranteed which was probably going to end up more like $500k and with a field you really want to play against. I started pretty well , but then ended up card dead and losing two flips to bust early in the evening. It was frustrating, but also you don’t mind running not so well in the smaller tournaments, especially when you have fun playing and meeting interesting people & making new friends 🙂

Tuesday it was back for another bullet at Planet Hollywood to no avail and a trip to Nobu with John and Dara + his lovely wife Mireille to drink cocktails and have a fun evening of quality sushi and chat. It was 4th of July (Independance Day in the US) and although it was crazy busy on the strip we managed to get a sneaky view of some beautiful fireworks for a perfect ending to a fun night.

Next morning I was off to play the Helix Ladies event. They had for reasons that only they could explain decided to hold it at Harrah’s which has a massive 7 poker tables in the room.

When you have 50 alternates, you realise you are wasting your time and hopefully the Helix ladies game will have a more suitable location for 2018, as myself and friends would loved to have played, but ultimately couldn’t.

Jumping into another game at Planet Hollywood with my lovely friends Charlie & Natalia took care of the rest of the day. I really enjoyed hanging out with the girls & it’s a shame we didn’t get much luck in this game and bust late on short of the money.  I headed back to the Wynn for some sleep prior to the upcoming Ladies WSOP event, one of my favourites of the year…..TBC

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Unibet Open Bucharest

20 Dec

Unibet Open Bucharest was the best poker trip of 2016 for me & yes, just in case you are wondering, that includes the WSOP run too 🙂

Here’s why I enjoyed the whole Unibet Open experience so much:

Destination:

I’d been to Romania previously, but never to Bucharest and I can say honestly it surprised me! It was a cool city with lots to offer.

With a fascinating history (like everywhere some good/ some bad) it was rich in architecture with some lovely old buildings in the old town and of course the hugely imposing Palace of the Parliament which was once the biggest private residence in the world!

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Bucharest’s Old Town

The day after the Ladies Battle Royale ( see previous blog) I spent exploring the city with with Dara O’Kearney and his lovely wife Mireille.

The vibe all around was friendly and the food in delicatessens tasty and the shopping centres pretty expansive.

When a shopping centre has a roller coaster and ice skating rink you may want to limit the food and wine.

Of course we failed at both and after some tasty Lebanese cuisine we headed to stock up on Prosecco for the hotel parties ( we knew there would be parties:) in the local supermarket.

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Enjoying Lebanese with Dara & Mireille

I must confess to a strange fascination with exploring supermarkets in foreign cities across the globe.

The array of different and tasty food, different local choices and people watching is always fun. 

Confession here- favourite supermarket from trips- ‘Kirk’s’ in Grand Cayman; least favourite Mercado 2, Havana… anyway I digress….

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Supermarket in Havana

Other highlights from the day was continual good food, cheap taxis and wine, decent city walks, great company and like any good Lithuanian appreciates readily available beetroot salads…

We were also to discover Bucharest has a fun party nightlife, but more on that later…

Hotel:

It is always nice when you turn up to your hotel and it’s a cheeky 5 star number and the tournament is also being hosted there! The Marriott Bucharest is a stunning hotel with spacious rooms and a good array of facilities.

Poker stressing you out, there’s a spa and pool. Want to keep your body agile as well as your mind, there’s a fitness centre. Hungry, 5 restaurants. Sports betting and want to watch the match- there’s a bar for that also.

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The indoor pool

All poker players know the immediate aftermath of an exit from a tournament is a depressing time, but the environment can sure help pick you up and it did ( no spoiler here) when I ultimately got knocked out.

Basically the opposite of walking out of the Amazon Room at the Rio, thirsty with no decent food nearby and the cab queues…

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One of the bars & chill out zone

Breakfast was amazing and depending on your personal time choice was available at 11am and also if you wanted a really early breakfast on the way home from a particularly big night… well the Romanian KFC one street away from the hotel did a great line of tasty dishes, complete with the next day shame of in room packaging and remaining cold chip 🙂

The Main Event:

With two starting days I decided on day 1b on the Friday. Firstly it gave me a day off to explore Bucharest prior and secondly I prefer Friday players in poker tournaments- it’s always fun with a higher proportion of recreational players playing and their table chat is usually more entertaining. 

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Feature table

Anyway, once I’d sat down to play it was obvious it was shaping up to be the biggest Unibet Open ever and with 603 entries it was!

The generous guarantee was comfortably smashed. With a €1,100 buy in and 30k starting stack, plenty of play was guaranteed with a 1 hour clock.

My starting table included 2 Israelis, 3 Romanians and Gaelle Garcia Diaz who had played in the Unibet Ladies Battle Royale. It was a fun table with plenty of banter, as a minority at the table us ladies were welcomed and somewhat of a novelty.

We were the feature table after a couple of levels, with plenty of action and also a couple of players really determined to get action whatever the cost to their stack!

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Just after busting the Main Event – wine time:)

I was card dead so grinding away, as I ended up doing the majority of the day. A,10 costing me chips vs. KJ sb/bb and a number of other shoddy run- outs for me.

With efficient friendly dealers it always seemed fun regardless and you learn not to get frustrated if spots and hands aren’t coming your way.

Later in the day I was on the feature table again, this time with Renè Dif (vocalist and writer from the band Aqua). 

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Rene Dif on the right

A lively, friendly character I was able to forgive him for the polarising smash hit Barbie Girl from the mid 90s. Polarising because my 13 year old self loved it, but my older self now isn’t so sure…sorry Renè 🙂

After a long days play my ultimate exit was pretty frustrating. I squeezed jammed from the BB with AJ and got called by the early position raiser. I was in great shape against his J8dd but the run out did not play ball and a flush sent me to the rail.

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Traian Bostan – Main Event winner

Have no fear though, the lounge area and drinks were waiting along with a number of unfortunate bust buddies (Dara, Ian Simpson, David Lappin & Kat Arnsby to mention a few) and we had a good time there chatting and drinking until around 4am.

Congrats to Traian Bostan for an awesome performance and the 100k winner’s prize. Nice to see a local lifting the trophy.

Side Events/Fun tournaments:

Busting the main didn’t mean that poker was over for the trip. There was a strong array of side events including a 6-max tournament, PLO, Turbo, Bounty and high roller event.

There were also satellites for the main event and high roller prior to these for live players in Bucharest to join those who satellited online.

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The Unibet Community side event

The side events had the continued friendly feel I’d come to expect on the trip. I especially enjoyed the Unibet Community side event.

It was free to enter as long as you were a community member and lots of fun. With drinks on offer and bounties on various people’s heads I met new interesting community regulars and Unibet staff members also.

Here’s the link to the Unibet Community  if you wish to be a part of this fun experience on the next Unibet Open stop. 

Ambience and Atmosphere:

My earlier points will mean it comes as no surprise to discover the general atmosphere across the events was  fun and friendly.

This has been lacking in recent tournaments I’ve played elsewhere and it reminded of the funner days of poker when I first started to fall in the love with the game.

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Carl & Robin having some poker fun:)

Plenty of banter and people enjoying a beverage, and a lot less Beats headphones and scowls from jaded professionals.

It was nice to be congratulated on my ladies Battle Royale win from complete strangers, and indeed make new friends.

The poker room itself was a beautiful Grand Ballroom, just outside the main lounge. It had plenty of space and places to chill and rail mates.

When busting there was always someone new who wanted to have a chat and I think the community feel has helped everyone feel more inclined to approach others.

We even got to do a Poker Mannequin Challenge featuring over 300 players, staff and media!

 

Coverage and Streams:

You don’t have to take my word for it on the Unibet Open you can stream and enjoy the banter and coverage throughout. Whether watching the live stream of one of the events, or catching up on Pokernews updates from the diligent Frank Op de Woerd, you can always get a good insight into what is happening.

Marc Convey and David Vanderheyden were responsible for the live stream and they always bring the entertainment with witty and insightful commentary and observations.

I was lucky enough to join Marc in the commentary booth along with Dara for a period of streaming for the feature table.

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Marc Convey on the left & Carl, the champ of the Unibet staff event;)

Concurrent to our comments, there is a live chat section suitable for railers, community members, hand opinions, exclusive Unibet Freerolls and even the occasional ( quickly deleted 🙂 trolls…

I enjoyed being part of the commentary albeit briefly and really appreciated how difficult it is to keep the banter and fun flowing so feel free to check Marc and David doing just this on some of the replays on the Unibet Twitch Channel.

Entertainment and the Players Party:

As anyone knows who regularly attends poker tournaments, there are plenty of players who enjoy socialising, a few beers and cocktails, or even just drowning their sorrows/ or indeed celebrating with friends!

With welcome drinks and cocktails as well as live music – Unibet got the ball rolling for all players.

The highlight of the weekend’s fun being the Players Party on the Saturday night with coaches laid on from the hotel to the venue- the aptly named Players Club.

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With Kat & Linnea from the Ladies Event

With drinks vouchers provided for players I had more joy spinning these up from the 2 vouchers I arrived with to a mysterious 13 vouchers remaining in my purse the next day. I’m still bemused by this as I’d had quite a few already on arrival..

The club itself was pretty spectacular with a massive luxury interior, great music and some of the sexiest dancers you could wish to see. I had a great time dancing (see no.2 in favourite past-times) and fun with the girls.

My evening was somewhat derailed after having to down a massive Absinth shot following losing a bet, but a vomit inducing trip to the toilet resolved this.

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Player Club

The club was still rocking when we left around 4am, open until 6am. I told you the Bucharest locals like to party…

Final Thoughts:

Unibet and their staff did a great job in running a successful and fun event. All the Unibet team members were approachable and interacted with the players throughout the event. 

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Unibet Team

Dealers, TD’s and support staff all did a fantastic job of making this poker festival a huge success. 2017 promises to be bigger and better for the Unibet Open. The first main event is in London at the end of February.

I look forward to seeing many of you there for another exciting & successful Unibet stop 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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