Thursday, August 26, 2010

Moving this Blog to CardRunners Permanently

Hey guys,

For the past 2 years I've considered this blogspot blog my 'real' blog and copy/pasted each entry to other poker sites to increase the readership. I've decided now however to just update my CardRunners blog. Why? Quite simply, the CR blog format is so much easier. I can copy text from Word without having to reformat it here, and I can paste photos without having to resize them all manually (and insert them in reverse order). I can also attach YouTube videos much more easily.

So yes, basically I'm moving it because I'm being lazy. With lots of photo blogs anticipated in the future it's just too much effort to go through the whole process every time on this blogspot blog. So, if you'd like to follow my travels in Europe in 2010 and whatever the future holds for me in 2011 (the year I play as a pro), please follow my blog here:

Thanks for reading, and adieu!

Friday, July 9, 2010

PCA/NYC 2010 Trip Report Part IV (NYC)

You hear so much about New York City that, before you set a foot in the place, you already feel like you know it inside out. The sites, the food, the people, the culture... you've already lived it vicariously through sitcoms and films and stories from your friends and family. The one thing though that you hear over and over about New York, and the one thing that you can't experience without actually going there, is the electric atmosphere of the place. You hear how you feel alive as soon as you walk into the city - this heaving metropolis full of energy and excitement. This was the New York that I had to discover...


While we were at PCA all the news channels were talking about the "Arctic Chill" that had swept over NY and much of America. Being from Australia, this was a rather frightening prospect since we scarcely had clothes suitable for a normal NY winter, let alone "the coldest winter in decades". If we ran bad with the weather at PCA though, we certainly made up for it in NY. From the moment we touched down, it never snowed again until we left and the temperature never dropped below -5 Celsius. Given the talk of -15 to -20 on the news, I cannot overstate how much of a relief this was!

Cross Streets

We were staying at the Helmsley on 42nd and 3rd – the room was a bit small but the location was great, two or three blocks from Times Square and right at the heart of Midtown. We always joked that one block closer to Times Square and we would've had the best location possible (pretty much right where the Hyatt is).

Speaking of 42nd and 3rd, is it just me or is it quite thrilling to get in a taxi and say "42nd and 3rd please". You just sound so cultured, so suave, so in the know. At first I was quite taken aback that I couldn't give the exact address of where I wanted to go.

Me: "767 5th Avenue please!"
Driver: "?"
Me: "Sevennnn Huuuuundred and Siiiiixty Sevvvvven, 5th Avenue please!"
Driver: "What's the cross street?"
Me: "????"

But once I got used to it, each day I genuinely looked forward to giving the taxi driver a new intersection to go to.

Settling into a Routine

The first night we wandered around Times Square and hit up an Irish pub at what we thought was the suitably and fashionably late time of 9PM.

The place was absolutely dead.

Upon asking the bartender why that was, he dutifully informed us that we were 3 hours too early. Huh?

After checking out some other bars we verified that he was, indeed, telling the truth. The city that never sleeps doesn't seem to wake up either!

From that moment on though, we perfected our routine. We would wake up at 12, eat brunch at Pax deli at 1 (pastrami roll and OJ for me!), sightsee until 5, shower/watch TV/sleep/lose 5K until 9, then order room service for dinner (invariably a steak or a burger) and finally go out at 11.

Rinse, repeat, awesome!


A trip to any major city would not be complete without a catalogue of photos at each major landmark, so here's mine...

Times Square

Rockefeller Centre

Great view from the top, cool ice rink at the bottom.

Central Park

I never realised how big Central Park was. It has such a nice tranquillity to it and it's a great place to get away from the noise of the city.

Guggenheim Museum

The Met

I'm big on Ancient History so the Met was easily my favourite museum...the place was massive so I stuck to my guns: Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt...

American Museum of Natural History

This was a pretty big disappointment. It had a cool science show in this dome-thing (the Hayden Planetarium) narrated by Whoopi Goldberg where you look at the ceiling and it zooms you through the Universe but the rest of it was pretty mundane. A lot of exhibits were just plastic models of cavemen and mammoths etc. rather than bones or the real thing (understandable, but lame).


I love modern art. The artistic craftsmanship that goes into such fine pieces as these is just unfathomable.

Ground Zero

Ground Zero Memorial

Surprisingly moving. I assume I'm allowed to put these up but if not, someone let me know!

New York Library

Wall Street

I think I speak for everyone when I say I was surprised that Wall Street is a tiny little lane that cars can't even go through!

Statue of Liberty

Doesn't get more cliché than this...


We got to be in the audience for a taping of Letterman which was pretty cool. Before you go in they have these guys give you a pep talk to get you in the mood and laughing at every joke like it's the funniest thing you've ever heard. What I actually found funny was that they have to recite their pep talk line-for-line each and every night. You'd think this would drive them nuts but these guys were crazy happy. I remember how one guy's face completely lit up when he saw us arrive: (eyes widening) "HEY GUYS! HOW YA DOIN!?" Once seated we were treated to some music and the clapping and dancing continued. It was like being at a Hillsong Convention, but lots of fun nonetheless.

We also saw Wicked which I really liked but I already had the album and knew the songs so I was probably a bit biased.

Empire State

View from the top at night.

NYU Law School

Just had to take a photo of this :).

Grand Central Station

FAO Schwarz

Piano from the film Big with Tom Hanks.

Abercrombie & Fitch

One thing you must do when you're in NY is go to the Abercrombie & Fitch store on 5th Avenue. I remember being greeted at the door by two guys who I thought were male models. Then, as soon as I walked in, I realised that every employee in the place was ridiculously good looking. The store was actually ridiculously overstaffed and basically a dance party. Music is blaring and all the staff are dancing, including the people fronting the cashiers (which unfortunately meant very slowly lines, but the eye candy more than makes up for it!). There are even dancing girls stationed at the top of each staircase to greet you as you arrive on each level!

Being good at helping customers was obviously not part of the job description however as my question about the whereabouts of an item was met with a pointed finger and an "over there somewhere".


The one thing that we learnt from Vegas is that everyone in clubs in America is really old. So rather than hang out at expensive and trendy joints with presumably 30+ year olds, we decided to hang around Greenwich Village (where NYU is) and, on the recommendation of a friend I met at PCA, Lower East Side. We tried most of the bars around those areas but ended up returning to two places each and every night: Off The Wagon in the Village and Pianos on Lower East Side.

Off The Wagon is meant to replicate a typical college bar, complete with beer pong tables and all. Pianos is a bit more groovy and "dancy" and ended up being my favourite place. It was actually kind of funny how we came across it. That same PCA friend told me about it but I didn't think too much of it other than mentally making a note of the name. I didn't know where in Manhattan it was at all. Then one night we took a cab from the Village to Lower East Side, without specifying where in particular to go (since we didn't know), and as soon as I got out of the cab and looked up, staring me right in the face was Pianos! Destiny!

Off the Wagon


Another cool place we happened upon was Spitzer's, also in Lower East Side. More of a restaurant-pub, it had a huge selection of ridiculous strength beers and awesome food to pick on: the Truffle Mac and Cheese was amazing!

My only gripe with the nightlife in NYC is that everything is dead on weekdays, and everything closes at 4AM. The former is completely acceptable for most cities, but not for a city that is meant to never sleep! And the latter is of course also completely normal for most cities, but come on, this place doesn't start happening till midnight! A four hour window is not enough!

In hindsight I kind of wish that we did try a classy martini lounge or a proper nightclub just once, but overall I definitely don't regret doing what we did. Meeting lots of fun people, having late night lamb gyros and Philly Cheese Steaks, and drinking the night away as we hopped from one hole-in-the-wall bar to another – those are the memories that will stay with me forever.


I went to New York with so many expectations and I can honestly say that it far surpassed them. The sites were amazing, the atmosphere was electric, and the nightlife was buzzing. The best thing is, there's a little bit for everyone. When I got back from NY I tried to describe it to a friend who's going there later this year (come to think of it she's probably there right now) and soon realised that she probably would not like it for remotely the same reasons as I did. I personally will remember NY mostly for the bar-hopping and the sightseeing (hence the structure of this blog). Others probably will remember it for the food or the Broadway shows or the shopping or the music.

What's patently clear is that, if you haven't been already, you should definitely put it to the top of your list. You won't regret it :).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Two Weeks till Freedom...

I'm getting pretty psyched...few days until World Cup begins...and then in two weeks time I'll basically be free for 1.5 years!

I'm getting really excited for exchange too. We had a pre-departure session last week and Lund sounds like it has the most amazing student social life. I have a friend who's there now and he said the time went by so fast...

My trip has also been completely finalised...

• 9th July – leave Sydney
• 10th-17th – Paris
• 17th-23rd – Barcelona
• 23rd-29th – Marseille
• 29th -3rd August – Nice
• 3rd-8th – Florence
• 8th-15th – Rome
• 15th– fly to Copenhagen
• 16th – Arrive in Lund

During semester we'll go to Oktoberfest, visit Utrecht and Amsterdam, and go up north to hopefully see the Northern Lights. We'll also probably see Stockholm and some other places if time permits.

Then next year I'm basically going to be playing poker full-time! I'll obviously be focusing on cash but I'm planning to take tournaments up again since I'll be able to play every Monday (Sunday in the US) and all the FTOPS/WCOOP/SCOOP for the first time. As for big live events, I'm looking to play a decent schedule at the WSOP (I was initially going to just play the 5K 6-Max, Main Event and possibly whatever big NLHE event they come up with next year but I think I might play the small events that are running while I'm there as well), WSOPE, EPT London, and APPT Sydney. Aussie Millions 2012 should round out my poker career.

As for general holiday trips, I want to go to Tokyo, Kyoto, Pompeii, Venice, Athens, some Greek Islands, LA, San Diego and San Francisco, and possibly NYC and Shanghai as well.

So, what's between me and all those places? Two weeks of copyright, trade marks, and private international law...

Argh...back to the books...


High Stakes Poker - Daniel Negreanu Versus Gus Hansen

Joe Hachem - WSOP Main Event 2005 Champion