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Euro-Trip Part 3- Spain To Praque...Closing Thoughts on a Mind-Blowing Trip

by Amanda Musumeci |  Published: Jul 30, '14


                                                                                                                               (Prague, Dec 2013)

What an intense and drastic change between western Europe and eastern Europe. Each place has it's own good and bad(except Amsterdam and Malaga, which were 100% perfect in every way). Prague felt a bit unwelcoming at first. Cab drivers were ripping us off, the smell of BO seemed to linger in about 40% of establishments I entered, and the Czech accent comes off very harsh lol. I constantly felt like I was being berated there even though I never was(ok, maybe not never, but rarely!).

Thankfully, a bunch of my friends were in town for the upcoming EPT Prague event, so I got to enjoy the city with my comfort-objects :) And ohhh the beauty we found...

Being in Europe right as Christmas approached also made this part of the trip quite special. Christmas has long been one of my favorite holidays. It reminds me of being young, being surrounded by loved ones, and being joyful. To see a city like this dressed for the holidays was spectacular! Massive, monumental Christmas trees could be found in nearly every square around Prague. Many of the squares offered live music, delicious and interesting new street foods, vendors with crafts and gifts, and there was even warm cider and warm wine. nom.

Given that we were all in town for the poker, we didn't have a whole lot of time to run around the town making trouble. This particular time of year in Prague is when they hold the "Prague Poker Festival." This festival is freakin intense!!! There are soooo many poker tournaments all over town that one could, if running bad and busting/playing everything, play over 25 events in a week! For my 10 day trip there, I was scheduled to play 30 events(given a lot of worse-case-scenarios).

Well, I ended up playing only 6 events of the 30. And no, it wasn't because I was lazy or hung-over! I'm actually a work-horse. When I know I'm playing the next day, I rarely go out. Hell, even when I know I'm not playing the next day, I rarely go out lol.

Anyway, one of the events that I played was an 1100eu GSOP Main Event. I opted to play this event because I felt like it would be softer since EPT was running a simultaneous 2k which I figured all the regs would play. Me... I felt like playing locals who had no clue who I was. I've gotta tell you... I probably had the most fun playing a tournament everrr when I played this event. It was so funny. I wish it were all on tape for you guys to see and laugh your asses off at. I curled my hair, wore girly clothing, folded my hands(my actual hands) politely in between poker-hands, twirled my hair in my fingers at the poker table while in the middle of heads-up pots as if to not to be paying attention, tanked soso much(girl-style), fondled my chips amateurishly... it was pretty a ridiculous scene.

I had every single player in that event in the palm of my hands. I've never worked a room/tables so hard in my life. Such a little actress I got to be...and boyyy was it jus a blast! Every time I had top pair, I'd just check/tankkkk call and these aggro Euros became convinced I had like an underpair that they could take me off of with massive bets. And so it kept happening... top-pair(ish) for me, and a barrel-off by them :)

                                                                        (Sneaky Girlll.....The Grand Live(GSOP) Main Event, Prague, Czech Reublic- Dec 2013)

It's pretty hard for the media folks to always be around to catch these hands, but literally this was happening so frequently that I got a ton of good coverage. Here are a few fun ones... lol...had a lot of dudes "shaking their heads" lololol. God, being a chick is rarely, but in the case of poker, nothing shy of awesome!!

Once at the final table, the jig was up. I assumed within reason that the final-table players had likely done their research and now knew I wasn't the innocent girl who's "dad bought her in as her x-mas present." Hahaha... YES, that IS what I was telling them during the previous 3 days of play ;) Since coming into the day, I figured I was found out, I entered with an entirely new look, attitude, and game. The girl they had seen before was no more! I was ready to go, raybands and full Philly attitude in tow. Today, I would be the "don't f*ck with me" girl.

It worked really well. The commentators for the live-stream kept approaching me on breaks keeled over in laughter at the straight ownage that was occurring. Eventually, I came to lose a massive pot when I raise/called vs a guy who straight rejammed literally 45bbs when we were 6-handed with his pocket 44. I obv snapped it off with the JJ, but the gent went ahead and made his set :/ I ended up taking 5th place in the event.

The one mega-bummer about all of this was that the whole trip was supposed to be all about playing EPT Prague. After all, I'd never played an EPT before. There was only one scenario that could occur that would keep me from playing the EPT main... and that was IF I were to final table the GSOP event, which I obv did. Thus, I missed EPT Prague altogether. Kinda sucked to miss it to get a 5th place for not much money, butttt at least it was a slightly profitable yet highly enjoyable trip.

Even though I couldn't play EPT, I still stopped in to say hi to some friends who were doing well...

                                                                     (Ari Engel and Amanda Musumeci, EPT Prague- Dec. 2013)

Since I had missed my shot at playing EPT Main, I opted to use my free night in Prague to continue to explore the city. With all my friends making the most of the sick schedule of events, busy playing... I, alone again, ventured out into the city of Prague.

                                                                                                                            (Prague Castle- Dec 2013)

I walked around for hourss, again eating all types of weird new things, took some great pics along the way(like the ones above), got a massage, bought a local watercolor piece. It was a perfect little evening for me. I was quite content. My walking tour of the evening had led me closer to the Prague Castle, seen above. I decided..."why not go see it. It may be my only chance to ever do this!"

So, I began my mission to the castle. The roads as I approached the castle all became cobblestone, which always makes for an interesting walking/tripping over cobblestones experience. The inclines became greater and the roads, narrower. This was quickly becoming an intense workout. The moment I began to question if it was worth it to continue... I see a figure, walking towards me in the distance. As you'd assume, I get a little wary because I'm a small chick alone on some back street in eastern Europe at 11pm. As the figure approaches, I cannot quite determine what I'm seeing exactly. Then another figure peaks over the hilltop and starts it's way down at me. Then an entire group. The nearer I get, the more I'm convinced that someone slipped something into my cider because I could swear that I was surrounded by.....angels!!!! I swear to you people, this is real. The closer I get, the music chimes in... a boisterous organ being played with very regal sounding Christmas music from the Prague Castle. All of these people dressed as angels, in alllll white, with halos, wings, the whole thing... were walking down the hill as I trekked up it. They all waved and said things to me in another language, which I'm sure was "bless you, merry Christmas," etc etc and handed me white flowers. I mean, dudes, it really felt like I was in some complete dream. How does anyone ever have a moment like that in life? It was beautiful, I nearly cried.

                                                                                      (Prague Castle, Dec 2013)

 I loved this night. So many magical nights I'd had over the run of this trip overseas. I can't tell you guys enough how much this all meant to me. How many times I'd come to tears walking down the street, just feeling outright grateful to whatever higher power there might be that I am the way I am, that I've been given the gifts that I have, and that those gifts have led me in my lifetime to this... this amazing, soul-shaking experiences that one like myself will never ever be able to forget.

Oftentimes when I reflect on my life... I think of how the beginning was a literal horror show. The first 20 years were pretty dark times. I can't even grasp the amount of luck, just like the luck it takes to win a massive tournament, that it took.... I can't imagine how many little perfect pieces had to come together juuuuust right in order to have my story come along the way it has.... so blessed. Even if being good at poker isn't luck... even if it is endurance and skill... then it is that which I have been blessed with perhaps. I get completely choked up whenever I think about the wonder of it all.

It's funny. Because we, as pro-players, we spend so much money on the game and on expenses and taxes. Our lives have all become so poker-centric that we forget what real life is. We forget that there is a thrill that is greater than that which we can find in poker. Poker is so tempting, with the allure of money and attention and constant ego-stroking. It shouldn't be news to any of you by now if you've been following me over the years, but I really am just so sad for people who spend their entire lives lost in that world. I'm personally just unattached to it almost completely. This trip served as an eye-opener as to how easy it was to forget what was real and how easy it was to get too wrapped up in poker. It served as a personal reminder to live life to the absolute fullest, leave no stone unturned, take risks, and to believe passionately in people, love, and fairness. There is way more to life than what we find in the poker community, which we choose to surround ourselves with 90% of the year. Look and think outside the box. Be unafraid. And remember that realistically, most of these people won't be around forever.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do."  - H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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