Despite a disappointing BAPT Liz Lieu discovers success away from the poker table can be even more satisfying
Many professional poker players live a life of luxury in all quarters of the globe – we travel exclusively and play for huge sums of money for our troubles. But, a recent trip to Asia proved to be a timely reminder of the struggles many people battle against in the face of poverty and natural disaster.
It all began back in November. Singapore was the venue for the Betfair Asian Poker Tour, held at the Meritus Mandarin Hotel. But it was my journey and destination following this event that left me with a huge sense of fulfilment. After busting out earlier than I would have liked at the Mandarin, my best friend and Martins Poker team-mate John Phan joined me on a trip to my homeland of Vietnam where we visited family before undertaking some charity work.
All in the name of…
After arriving in Saigon, I spent several days visiting my dad. Just being able to see him in person, spend some time talking to him and make sure he was happy and healthy was very satisfying for me. John and I had big plans for our charity work, so we headed to DaNang, a rural part of Vietnam with a relatively poor population. A hurricane hit the area earlier in 2006, so it wasn’t hard to find people who needed aid. We bought eighty tons of rice and travelled to many different villages to unload it by truck, making sure people had what they needed. The trip made me feel very grateful for what I have, but showed me that many people need help in this world. Weeks earlier, it’s fair to say that my playing experience at the Betfair Asian Poker Tour was not quite as satisfying. However, there were still some hugely enlightening moments; most notably eventual winner Tony G donating half of his winnings to charity. Harry Demetriou – another team-mate of mine from Martins and who cashed in 20th place – also gave a huge slice of his winnings to a Vietnamese charity. So while poker stars may live the high life, it’s refreshing to know that underneath it all we are just everyday human beings that still have a sense of perspective in this world.
So what about my experiences at the tables? Well, it could have been better, of course. With a prizepool of $1.5 million, the 313 entries for the Betfair Asian Poker Tour had plenty to play for. The only bad thing was that since the events were at a hotel, rather than a casino, there were no cash games, only satellites into the main event. Even so, the whole event was conducted with class and I was more than happy to be there. What I didn’t expect was the news coverage. Channel News Asia did a video interview with me and I was also on the front cover of two Singapore newspapers – all very exciting!
I had a very up-and-down first day, and was on the receiving end of several bad beats. The worst one was when I flopped a set of 10s, my opponent went all-in with K-K, I called, and he landed a King on the river to beat my set. I was down to about 2,000, but built my stack back up. After another bad beat, I had to rebuild my chips again, ending the day with 23,600, But, when the second day started, I was definitely one of the shorter stacks at my table. I got to play two rounds until I was dealt pocket 9s. The guy who was two seats from the blinds made a medium raise, and when the action was to me, I pushed all-in. Then the guy in seat No.1 went all-in, and I immediately knew that he had a big pocket pair – of course, he turned over Aces. The board didn’t help me, and I was out of the tournament.
But when all is said and done, I guess I’m very happy with the cards life has dealt me. Since seeing the depths of poverty with my own eyes, I am going to be even more dedicated to helping others. But first I need to reverse my losing run. Hopefully my future winnings can be added to the charitable pot!
Liz is just one of the great players we feature every month in PokerPlayer magazine. Get a copy HERE