Learning from the best: Liv Boeree
To win a million Euros in an EPT Main Event is the stuff that dreams are made of. Most of us poker players can only fantasize about this kind of payoff. But for the Million Dollar Girl, Liv Boeree, this is all in a day's work.
Boeree masks years of hard work with an effortless glamour. Since bursting into the public eye by winning the 2010 San Remo EPT, she has become one of the most recognised women poker players in the world. She attracts a lot of attention, even drawing the odd wink from her adversary Claudio Piceci during the final table play. It is this kind of attention she uses to her advantage.
If Vanessa Rousso is the Maverick of poker, then Boeree may be the princess, even if only to use it as a clever disguise. With her well-spoken tone, model good looks and a love of horse-riding, she does project the "princess" image. However, to buy into it would be a grave underestimation, for under the surface lurks a metal guitar.
One of Boeree's many strengths is that she can find the value in any game; it seems to be a skill which predates her poker career. Boeree's appearance on British TV game show Golden Balls showed an early talent for bluffing. The game show offered the players the option of either splitting or stealing a team accumulated cash value. Even then, she used the princess image so well that her opponent and the audience were convinced she would split. Already, Boeree understood how to get value from this game and pleaded until the last minute, "Please don't let me down." She carried off a bluff of epic proportion, leaving her opponent astounded.
This kind of calculation is essential to a successful bluff, and seeing this behaviour away from the poker table really highlights to me that a take-no-prisoners approach is essential in this game.
For me, looking for a role model, Boeree's background in TV gives her an apparent inaccessibility. Having said that, I have realised there is a lot to be learned from this woman. Her style of play is methodical and strategic; again, with a science background, her plays are grounded in logic and, of course, value! She is sensible with her money and her chips and makes those plays which will provide the steadiest return.
I was once told that to be a good player and to have the guts to make those huge raises, I have to divorce myself from the utility value of money. But Boeree looks at her chips as units of investment to be nurtured, and she plays it smart rather than big and showy. As a beginner, this style is very appealing.
Before winning the EPT, Boeree was a steady constant on the poker circuit. She won her seat to the final table via a satellite, earning her place and proving her worth. From this, I have realised that being a successful poker player is about building that stack and bankroll over time. To do this, stamina and patience is required, and being someone who gets bored easily, this is something I have to work on.
Boeree offers some very sound advice, such as considering the size of your stack when playing. She suggests than when playing a medium or big stack, there's no hurry to play hands and a person should to take time getting comfortable with the table. I really wish I had read this before I bubbled in my last tournament; maybe I would have been a couple of hundred pounds richer.
She suggests that any tournament player should practice their heads-up game and sharpen their shoving range. In total honesty, before I started to research this article, I had little idea of what was meant by a heads-up game. However, as everything I have learned so far has been the hard way, I intend to plan ahead and use this advice wisely. For armed is forewarned.
One of the many things I love about Boeree is that she is keen to encourage many other women not only to play poker, but not to be intimidated by any male-dominated industry. This is, for me, something which makes Boeree relatable. I, too, firmly believe that women at the poker table, and anywhere else in life, should not let themselves by limited by the idea of gender.
Boeree admits that she likes to be good at anything she does, preferably in the top five percent. This is a tall order and shows just how driven Boeree is. It's an admirable trait and, undoubtedly, it is this drive and hard work which has earned her the success she has now.
All in all, from Boeree's example, I have learned the three Ds: determination, discipline and dedication. I am looking forward to railing her when she plays in the UKIPT in my hometown of Douglas, Isle of Man. Hopefully, I can pick up some more tips.