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Fluctuat Nec Mergitur

by Xuan Liu |  Published: Apr 15, '11

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This is my third reverse-chronological entry on my Deauville-Paris-Venice-Paris-Malta-Copenhagen trip. Again, it's very tl;dr because I suck at making concise and regular updates, and when I finally do get around to blogging I tend to regurgitate everything. Enjoy!

"It is tossed by the waves, does not sink" is the translation for the Latin Parisien motto, and pretty accurately describes my adventures in the city of light and effortless elegance. I have to begin by saying I am not proud I did not get to do all the touristy stuff I had on my check list. The closest I got to the Louvre was to the club across the street, and I kept the Musée d'Orsay hanging more than a few days in a row until we hastily left for Malta. What's more upsetting, however, is that I was simultaneously unable to take advantage of the weak fields in the events at the FPS. I often use this analogy when referring to these situations, but seriously, there were times when I felt like I was getting beat up by toddlers.

I was actually in Paris twice. The first time was with Noctus, Dylan, and Cal after a Deauville Sunday grind all-nighter. We took a train to Paris (which I bragged about paying a lower fare for since I was able to navigate the hella confusing French rail site, but then the real joke was ultimately on me after going on a pretty ugly run in Chinese), and stayed in a roomy 4 bed hotel in the centre of the city by Opera. Since they were all leaving the next morning, we decided to make the most of our time and visit the Eiffel Tower.


I usually have this Dallas Green mentality when travelling ("...but I'll never take any pictures/Cuz I know I'll just be right back" from the song "Coming Home"), but I really wished I had a real camera with me for the sight. Yes, it's still just a metal structure, but all that it stands for is pretty amazing, and it really did kick my often-jaded judgement's ass. We then had some mediocre touristy French food and pretty much all snap-passed out once we got back to the hotel. Strangely we also almost simultaneously woke up around midnight & hunger pangs led us to "Au Pied de Cochon", a 24-hour joint that specialized in pig's feet. I was a veteran to the part since the delicacy is actually renowned for its skin-rejuvenating properties in Asian food (so my mother makes plenty of this stuff at home), but the others predictably opted for safer fare. We actually ended up staying there for awhile as Noctus and Cal went tete a tete in the ol' science vs. religion debate, and that eventually led us to some fun philosophy 101 topics like free will and the existence of a soul. It must've been the inspiration of the Parisian air!

It was sad to see these guys leave, but I certainly didn't mind staying longer in Europe. I was also due for Venice in a few days for the WPT, but more on this mystical city in my next entry. My second time back in Paris I was lucky enough to be there at the same time as my dear friend Cathy who is definitely the classiest girl I know. I met her at my table itm on the second day of the WSOP Ladies' Event where I made a failed attempt to squeeze her open when she 4b shoved in my face. She has a fearless table presence and is a force to be reckoned with. In true Parisian style as a current resident, she is also effortlessly elegant, except she's not even French and actually is quite diverse in her opinions of Paris. She complains that they complain about everything when they have access to the best luxuries in the world, and she knows exactly what she wants and never makes excuses for herself or anyone around her...I wish I could be more like that!

Anyhow, it was amazing to have her and Arnaud as my personal guides around the city. Although my French skills are workable with Canadian mandatory French classes and since I'm always carrying around a pocket translation book like a noob, the city is much friendlier if the locals don't see you as an outsider. Cathy, like me, was always up for easy Asian food and it's refreshing to do girly things once in awhile. She took me to the finest malls where she knew the Chanel counter guy by name. We tried on clothes, shared decadent desserts, and talked about boys and poker of course. Joie de vivre! Arnaud entertained my historical curiosities by taking me to L'Arc de Triomphe, and showed me multi-faceted sides of the city through his knowledge of interesting neighbourhoods and the trendiest bars.




There was an afternoon when he took me for some delicious Italian food (the day before we left for Venice, no less...) in a chic neighbourhood that I unfortunately can't remember the name of at the moment. It was perhaps renowned for its boutiques, cobblestone paths, and great spots for people-watching, but we were warned immediately after sitting in the heated patio that there is also a problematic infestation of pick-pockets and small-time scammers, and that I should guard my purse carefully and put my Blackberry away. Sure enough, halfway into our meal the exact scam we were being warned about (a group of mafia-directed adolescents holding maps intending on asking suckers for directions while sneaking away valuables from under) came to our restaurant but was hastily shoo'd away by an employee. I had initially thought the petty crime frequency was just an exaggeration, but after the incident I applauded our attentiveness and felt quite good about myself for the rest of the meal, having so narrowly escaped what could have been a disastrous end to my Euro trip. Now for the good part. As we stroll off about 200 metres away talking about not running so hot in poker and preparing to hail a cab, I realized I had left my purse on my seat on the restaurant's patio. I wish I could measure the loss of colour in my face. You see, I try to be prepared to play cash games most days and depending on the hotel I am staying at I may keep a plethora of cash on me. My passport and 5 figures of Euros were in that purse, and the irony in this case is obvious. Luckily for me I run pretty good overall at life and Arnaud sprinted down the street to find it right where I left it.




My first encounter with Arnaud was at a 2ke side event at EPT Prague. I'm generally a pretty good shit disturber in a weak field, and when he came to the table it didn't take long for him to figure this out. He'd been relatively quiet and I 3b his EP open which he called. Board came KQTr and we both checked. Turn is a 9, he puts in a healthy bet and I jam just over pot effectively and he folds. Later on I would learn that he had 54s, which is a hand that will again play a key role at FPS. I would go on later to analyze some hhs with him at the notorious strip-club with midgets. He'd also be one of the first guys to convincingly argue that it's ok and still can be respectable to use feminine wiles for metagame at the table. Still trying to incorporate that into my game in a meaningful way, but nonetheless it's nice to have a selection of weapons to choose from.

Ok, onto FPS review. The tournament at Cercle Haussman was a huge success considering the starting days overlapped the WPT Paris event at the Aviation Club. I had originally planned to play the latter, but I was given top secret info regarding the softness of the FPS fields and it seemed like a no-brainer to go for better value. Although it was a much smaller buy-in of 2ke instead of WPT's 5k, the prize pool was significantly greater. Like all gambling joints in Paris, the casino was really a private club that required an annual membership fee. No complaints about the venue or the people; they were perhaps not friendly, but concerns were resolved with due diligence and they were conveniently located in a busy downtown area of the city.

Since it happened about two months ago I had to consult my tweets for frames of reference when blogging, and all I got was "50k @ 1st break no showdown yet :)" and "Out KK[less than]AQo last level of the day. Sigh. Rly. Gl @arnaudmattern wreck that table." Although I can't recover much concrete details, I do remember that most of the hands I played were either awesome due to thin value/sick reads, or vs. absurd hands/lines/opponents in one or all of these categories.

Two exceptionally interesting hands happened where I wasn't involved. On the very first hand of the day, Arnaud's friend was heads-up vs. a villain he had history with because there were no other players seated yet at their table. Starting stacks are 25k at 50/100 and he accidentally raised to 2050 instead of 250 due to a live color misclick. His opponent realized this and 3bets to 6k. Player 1 shoves for a full stack with QTs and player 2 snaps with K3 and wins. This set the tone for the tournament.

It was a tournament where it was exploitable to play unexploitably, and even as I knew this I managed to get into a bunch of flippy situations expecting them to be flips at worst, and not come out ahead. Despite not having made it past the first day, I had a lot of fun. The players who spoke any amount of English were friendly and engaging. My friend would also direct my attention to some flattering/hilarious posts about me on a French poker forum. I was really sad to go in the last level of the day since I had just transferred to Arnaud's left from a broken table. Admittedly I got some inside scoop on the table as I sat down: guy to my direct left was a spazzy but competent well-known French player with unlimited bankroll. Guy two seats to his left was a crushing solid high-stakes reg who ended up coming 2nd to Marvin. The rest were at various degrees on the ichthyoid scale. Excluding Arnaud, they had basically been pylons in the crossfire.


Here's where the second hand comes in. With given dynamics, Arnaud from lowjack opens for 1400 at 300/600/50 with a ~45k stack. I fold, guy with unlimited br 3bs to 3750 with ~25k. Basile Yaïche (high-stakes cash guy) with monster stack 4bs to 7800 from sb. Arnaud 5bs to 16200 and gets two folds. He then asks me to pick a card and I reveal the 4c. Awesome! He then jokes that it was to impress the lady and I oblige, admitting I am impressed. That made a really good Pokerstars blog entry.

So I came to the table with about 10bbs, doubled, lost min with 88 vs. QQ that somehow got to showdown, then lost 15bb in sb with KK in a standard spot vs. bb's AQ reshove aginst Arnaud's button open. I did wonder, however, what bb's lightest jam would be in this spot. If I remember correctly he was playing 25ish bigs eff since Arnaud had us both covered, and due to the obvious familiarity between Arnaud and I, villain must have assumed Arnaud is folding a shitload vs. me and I would/should shove close to 100%.

I wasn't too upset, however, because I was still in Paris and I thought there were a ton of juicy cash games to be played and a potential FPS high roller to look forward to pending my satellite win. However, the satellite plan was unsuccessful as I lost in the first level with T7s on a 47475 board in a pot where villain min. 3b from sb into 3 players. He barreled thrice and had 75. I looked stupid because I didn't even immediately realize he had won and was expecting my half of the pot.

There is definitely more to be said about French poker antics but I'll try to wrap this up and get to the juicier stuff. When Dom flew back to Europe from Aussie Millions we roomed together again right off Champs Elysses, the supposed most expensive street in the world. Our hotel internet connection was very temperamental and both Dom and I lost probably over 2k each in buy-ins throughout the trip due to unstable connections. Well, Dom was actually able to ship a nice win in a turbo despite being dc'd for a few min so he ran a lot better than I did in terms of when the internet decided to cut off. On the last Sunday we were there Dom was smart enough to prepare to grind at his German friend Alex Debus' hotel. I was stubborn and since the internet was fine all day, did not expect there to be any problems with it. I was wrong and halfway through some big tourneys I would have to take a cab to go meet up with them. The day ended up being redeemed by some meh cashes but I wouldn't be able to put up with the Euro schedule. I was totally power-napping during breaks and expected to take down the weekly HORSE but my stamina failed me. The next day we would hear that Alex played until the next afternoon and ended up shipping the 300 freezeout FTOPS for 300k+. That same night Marvin would win the FPS for something like 250ke and serenade the audience. The Germans were invading Paris again! It was great for me because we feasted on Chinese food after.

On one of our last night's in town we went to a swanky club called VIP across from the Louvre, where DJ Cut Killer was spinning that night. He was a friend of Elky's and we had a pretty nice booth with his entourage right in front of the stage. I'd also been pretty stressed from the previous week so I really let loose and had a blast with Cathy. This place had no shortage of eye candy, both from its go-go dancers and young model-types having a good time. The place is so over-the-top in cooler-than-thou factor that the ladies' room attendant is a black male monk. Yes, that dude is handing you towels, listening to you pee, and asking you if you need perfume. Not sure if that's the most zen place he could be.

Of course some other juicy stuff happened during my stay but I must leave some developments to the imagination. Venice is next :)
 
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