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Liv Boeree

In Her Own Words

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: Jul 01, 2010


Liv BoereeLiv Boeree solidified her standing as a professional poker player, and a great one at that, when she ensured she was the last player remaining from a total field of 1,239 at the PokerStars European Poker Tour San Remo. She became a millionaire overnight when she was awarded the first place prize of €1.25 million after beating initial final table chip leader Jakob Carlsson heads up. The “Iron Maiden” slashed her way through the €5,000 no-limit hold’em main event with flair and grace to become the third female EPT champion.

The final table chip counts were:

Seat 1 Claudio Piceci 4,460,000
Seat 2 Alexey Rybin 1,890,000
Seat 3 Atanas Gueorguiev 2,520,000
Seat 4 Jakob Carlsson 13,525,000
Seat 5 Giuseppe Diep 1,830,000
Seat 6 Liv Boeree 3,440,000
Seat 7 Toni Pettersson 5,035,000
Seat 8 Michael Piper 4,600,000

The final results and payouts were:

First Liv Boeree €1,250,000
Second Jakob Carlsson €750,000
Third Toni Pettersson €420,000
Fourth Michael Piper €345,000
Fifth Alexey Rybin €270,000
Sixth Giuseppe Diep €210,000
Seventh Claudio Piceci €150,000
Eighth Atanas Gueorguiev €90,000

Rebecca McAdam: How were you feeling about your game before this event?

Liv Boeree: I was actually a lot happier with my game. I’ve been doing a lot of work the last few months, on all sorts of different aspects, and I definitely feel my game is at the best it’s ever been.

RM: Was there anything different about the event – did you feel any different throughout?

San Remo CasinoLB: Yeah, I had a strange, really confident feeling, I have to say, even before I went to San Remo. It was really strange. So maybe that gave me the extra bit of confidence I needed to win.

RM: Did you feel like you had control over things throughout it?

LB: I definitely felt like I had a great table presence and like everything was going right — I was playing really well, I was getting my opponents to do what I wanted them to do for the most part, and everything just felt like it was going my way. I was running well, so that helped. Even when I had to take a big race, I felt confident each time.

RM: Did you have many people trying to give you advice?

LB: I had some great support on hand, I had the Bingers, they were sweating me. I remember I lost a really big pot and they came up and said, ‘Don’t worry about it, it’s a rollercoaster. Just because you lost that doesn’t mean the tournament’s over, just chill and wait for a good spot and get it back.’ So that was really useful.

And I had Shaun Deeb and Allie Prescott on the end of the phone — they were back in Vegas — I’m dating Allie and Shaun’s his flatmate. Those two are great poker teachers and they both have a lot of experience, and obviously Shawn Deeb is a bit of a sicko, so it was so good having them on hand for advice, particularly when we got shorthanded — they said, ‘If you get heads up and it’s against Jakob [Carlsson] give us a call because we have some tips on how to play against him.

RM: What kind of impression do you think you gave at the table?

LB: I think I had a tight-aggressive image at the table, which is a good image for me to utilise. I remember early on in the tournament, at the start of day two, I was getting no cards whatsoever, nothing. So I then tried to use my tight image, I just said, ‘Screw it, I’m going to open under the gun and they’re really going to have to have something to play back at me.’ It turns out that they had aces and I had 7-2 but I won (laughs).

RM: You have a lot of respect for Carlsson. What intimidated you about him?

LB: He’s got a lot more experience than me playing shorthanded, and also going super deep in these big tournaments. He’s a pretty legendary online player, high stakes cash, he’s a heads-up specialist — so yeah, he was the one guy I didn’t want to be heads up with.

RM: The pressure must have been immense going into the final, how did you cope?

LB: Yeah, it was weird because on day four, five, and six, I was really nervous, I couldn’t eat anything, and it progressively got worse, by the final table I was a jittering mess. I can remember just waking up and being like, ‘Oh God, really? Is this happening? Wow!’ I couldn’t eat, I had butterflies and so on, but once I actually sat down at the table and got a couple of hands going, I settled down and I was actually amazed at how calm I was once I was playing. We hadn’t even played any hands heads up and they said it was dinner break, and I was like, ‘Come on! Let’s just get this done.’ Fortunately everyone around me was very supportive.

RM: Did you find that you had to hide your nerves at all, or any tells, in such a vital moment of your poker career?

Liv BoereeLB: Do you know I don’t think I did! My tactic was if I was unsure about what to do, just to take my time. I would say that my biggest weakness up until now was that I would just rush decisions. That’s obviously not the smart way to play. It might have been frustrating for my opponents when I spent like a minute on each street, but I’m glad that I did that because it gave me time to just watch them and think, and really go through all the different options and make sure what I was doing was correct. That was my way of dealing with it — taking my time and watching my opponents closely. Everyone kept saying, ‘You’re staring at them.’ Well, yep, I guess I was, but if it added another layer of pressure, then that’s always a good thing. If they found my stare a little bit unsettling, then that’s great!

RM: Do you feel like this has confirmed your status as a pro?

LB: I think it has definitely helped. It’s difficult for girls in poker, we get branded like, ‘Oh they only got a deal because of the way they look.’ I’m not saying that I didn’t get my first original deal because of the way… well, you know, it definitely wasn’t because of my poker prowess or skill because I didn’t have any stats at the time. They wanted a girl who was keen on poker, wanted to play, and looked good on camera, so that’s why they sponsored me, and I’m not going to deny that. But when I moved over to Ultimate Bet, they said the reason you’re moving over is you’re starting to have results, we see how serious you take the game, we see how hard you’re working and we’d like to recognise and award that and invite you onto the Pro team, which was a real honour.

I’ve just been working really hard since then and it’s been nice to be able to prove to those who believed in me that I can do it, and stick my middle finger up to those who always try to shoot me down in flames. I know I’ve got a lot more to continue working on, but I just hope that this is the start of many.

RM: Would you be the type to be really hungry for your second title to show it’s not a one-off?

LB: 100 percent. That’s all I can think about — where’s my next one. I’ve got the confidence to know that I can do it and it’s also taught me where the weaknesses are in my game. I know I need a lot of practice heads up, shorthanded, and so on. It’s all a big learning curve.

RM: Are you going to change the games you play now with your new bankroll?

LB: Yeah, I’m learning some of the mixed games. I now know how to play H.O.R.S.E., and I really love playing PLO eight. I’m definitely going to work on those and you might see me in some of the smaller events at the Series. Bankroll-wise I’m still going to be really careful, like if I ever have the opportunity to satellite into an event I’ll always take it — I’m really good at satellites, it’s probably my specialty. I got into a satellite for the High Roller in Monte Carlo and won my seat in that. I’m not just going to go buying into these big tournaments just because I have a much bigger bankroll now.

RM: You’ve been all over the TV and the newspaper since you’re win. Do you feel a responsibility now to be a strong spokesperson for the game in mainstream media?

LB: Yes, that’s why I don’t use too much poker lingo, you have to simplify it and try to explain what it is that I do and how it works because if you do it that way it might get more people interested. Similarly, I’ve also got to show some form of social responsibility. I don’t want to be responsible for university drop outs and student loans. I want to try and get across that some of us do think about bankroll management and that it’s important to be aware of what your means are, your limitations, and that if you do want to start playing poker as a hobby, set aside a portion of what you have, that you won’t be too affected by it if you lose it, and try and study the game and learn.

The other thing I try and get across is that I am grateful for my education and that I did complete all my education. I didn’t discover poker until I was finished university but even if I had I know I still would have got my degree because whether you end up using your degree or not, it’s so important to have. It’s something to fall back on and particularly doing science it really trained me to perform well under pressure in exams. You could think of poker as an exam, you have to make quick decisions under pressure.

RM: What is your standing on the fact that you are a winning female player, do you mind promoting that aspect of it?

Liv BoereeLB: So many guys write women off as being not as good at poker as guys. Now if you took your average guy and your average girl and sat them down at a poker table, the chances are the guy has played poker before whereas the girl hasn’t. But when you actually get a top female pro and sit her down against a top male pro, like what Vanessa Selbst just did winning the NAPT Mohegan Sun, you don’t just say she’s one of the best female players, you say she’s one of the best players in the world. People actually 100 percent fear her. I wouldn’t put myself in the same category as Vanessa, I think she’s miles above my standard but she’s someone I aspire to be as good as. My goal is to be listed in the top 10 players of all time, not just the top 10 female players of all time.

RM: The good thing about talking about being a female player is that you can actually be a role model for budding female players.

LB: Yeah, I mean I don’t want to just be known as a good female player, I want to be known as a good player full stop, but at the same time if the female thing helps to bring more people into the game then of course I’ll use it and market myself accordingly. What’s interesting is some people are saying, ‘Oh I don’t understand why Liv is riding this media storm so much. She’s just using it to promote herself.’ Well of course I’m using it to promote myself, I’m not going to turn down opportunities to speak on national TV about poker and my achievements, that’s ridiculous. I want to promote myself, but at the same time I do see the bigger picture and I genuinely want to promote the game as much as possible. If I can use my God-given attributes to do that then I’m going to continue to do that.

RM: Now let’s get serious, have you made any purchases since you’re win?

LB: The money’s not even in my bank account! Anyway, I haven’t even had a chance I’ve been so busy.

RM: There must be something you’ve been thinking about buying though?

LB: Yeah, I want to get a nice car!

RM: One last thing — can you explain what someone can expect from winning something like this?

LB: One thing I would say is that I don’t feel any different, I’m exactly the same person. So, yes of course it’s life-changing but don’t expect to feel any different, and try and take the time to enjoy it. Take the time to say, ‘Wow, look what’s just happened! Isn’t this amazing.’

Read analysis of a crucial heads-up hand between Boeree and Carlsson in this month’s Hand 2 Hand Combat. Spade Suit