EPT in Monaco: Worth Every Bubble
At the YouTube hangout for the Women's Sunday 2nd birthday party, Team Pro Celina Lin said she was "doing more travelling since I got married cause I feel like it's my last chance to travel and play...till the babies start popping out." In the past few years, I've also been itching to travel more than ever, sensing a time in the not so distant future when choosing between grinding tournaments and going out for drinks won't be the most difficult life/work balance quandary.
When I played chess professionally, I traveled to dozens of countries. Although I loved it, I often found it exhausting and shied away from long and far trips for a few years. This all ended when I started competing for and winning PokerStars Women prize packages.
In particular, I dreamed of going to Monte Carlo. After stone-cold bubbling two satellites in 2010, the Grand Final moved to Madrid in 2011 and back to Monaco in 2012. Nearly every aspect of the trip from the views to the tournament organization lived up to my imagination. I highly recommend vying for a seat via the PS Women Live qualifiers.
As for my own trip, I got some things right and a few wrong:
1. Consider Other Side Events: The Ladies Event is timed toward the end of the series, and there are plenty of side events to consider, from $300 nightly turbos to larger events in the day. One thing I like about playing postlim side events (as opposed to the WSOP schedules, where smaller events lead up to the Main) is that some players (let's call them ballers) may be bummed to bust the Main and can't quite muster up maximum enthusiasm for lower buy-in sides. So even if you're facing some really strong players from whom you have a lot to learn, you may be happy to find them at their B game.
2. Walk About: Though I didn't have much time to sightsee, I loved exploring the Casino of Monte Carlo, synonymous with James Bond style. I was also impressed by the stunning artwork in the Opera gallery and the walks along the French Riviera.
3. Monaco's Rep is Mildly Exaggerated: If you don't win a package, or want to extend your stay, you don't have to spend hundreds of Euros per night. EptHotels.com has some reasonable options (when compared to many other European cities). After searching around just a bit, eating and drinking prices were also less outrageous than I expected. I also found the general vibe more subdued than garish. It was not as though the streets were filled with rich young entrepreneurs and trust fund kids dressed to the nines and flashing wristwatches. Since I work from home, I personally relish any excuse to rescue pretty dresses from dusty closets. Still, I wouldn't have felt too out of place dressed in casual attire. A notable exception was the famous Jimmy'z nightclub, which upheld a rather strict dress code. ("Sorry Mr. Negreanu, the sneakers really won't do.")
4. Leave Time for Nice: My favorite café in Philadelphia is owned by a man from Nice. In fact, his sons started a cheesesteak joint in Nice. My only regret was not tacking a day on to my trip to explore the city. So if you can't visit my part of the world, near Pat's and Geno's (see below) in South Philly, you can still have an authentic cheesesteak in Nice!
5. Eat Before the PokerStars Party: Enough said.
I can't make it to Monaco this year because I'll be hosting the US Chess Championships in Saint Louis. So win a side event and eat a salmon tartar plate for me! Good luck ladies!
There is little time left to win your PS Women Live trip to Monte Carlo! Check out the satellite details here.