Upon arriving in Monaco for the Monte Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final, I ate a salmon crepe, then jumped in a €300 Turbo, which I final tabled after some turns of fortune. I ended in fifth place and stumbled back to my hotel room in a thrilled stupor. But the poker fun had only just begun for me. The next day was an event I'd been geekily anticipating for weeks: a €500 + €500 NL Turbo Bounty with €500 bounties on each player. As a tight player, the strategic value of pummeling hundreds of blinds in the first orbit to unabashedly bounty-hunt, was as exciting to me emotionally as it was mentally. I sat down to a nearly empty table and I was smiling! Already my opponents were committing errors--it's a mistake to show up late for a bounty tournament.
I had mixed feelings when a number of superstar players arrived at my table, including PCA Main Event final-table finisher Xuan Liu, Mike "Timex" McDonald, Dominick Nitsche and Marvin Rettenmaier. It would be fun to see how such great players approached such an unusual format, though obviously not as profitable. But my run good continued--I snagged my first bounty by jamming in the small blind over a middle position open. The spot would normally be totally insane, but seemed good since I had the big blind and the opener covered (the most important rule of live-bounty hunting is always knowing exactly who you cover). I got lucky and won ATs > AKo and won a couple more bounties on my way to a cash. A strong female player, Darya Hulyk, ended up in second for €11,000. Lucille Cailly's Main Event run (2nd place for over €1,000,000) sure seemed to inspire other female players in Monaco!
The next day I took time off from poker for culture and nightlife. I visited Opera Gallery Monaco, which featured a blue-chip collection including a grand chess set by French-American sculptor Arman. Then onward to the famous Monte Carlo casino and JimmyZ's disco, where I had as much fun dancing and drinking as I did counting Louboutins. I easily blend into the energy of people around me, which can be very helpful when trying to absorb ideas quickly but can also be unsettling when you're the only one without a Chanel bag! I never used to want designer things, only bright and sexy things. Yet my resistance weakens as glamour and success merge in places like Monaco.
I slept for a couple of hours before playing in a fun media tournament on the new PokerStars IPad mobile app. Having started my poker career in sit-n-gos, I was stoked about the format (six-max SNG) and felt euphoric to be playing for real stakes on the PokerStars software again. The app was amazing and made me feel envious of Americans who have relocated to continue playing on the most innovative poker site.
So you can imagine that when the PokerStars Women Live event began, I was already having a blast. I arrived at the table and recognized Erika Moutinho, the top female finisher in the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event. Another stunning blonde just to my left, Catgirl Salnikova was tweeting for PokerStarsWomen during the tourney. I was chipping up nicely and having fun at my first table, but then lost a pretty big pot with AKo to AJs. After that point, I was always on about 15-30 big blinds and struggled and failed to fully double-up.
I was then moved to a table with Vanessa Selbst and Melanie Weisner. I was rooting against playing with such strong players earlier in the event, but at that point I didn't care nearly as much since I can play the 12-20 big blind stack adequately in zombie-mode. It was fun watching Melanie and Vanessa because despite the shallow stacks, they seemed alert and creative. I also enjoyed Selbst's table talk, which is at once friendly and intimidating.
I was eliminated shoving sixes into sevens but left the tournament content with my play and ready to celebrate at the PokerStars party. The awards ceremony saw another positive for women in poker when Melanie Weisner was anointed this EPT season's Heads-Up Player of the Year.
My trip to Monaco was one of the only times in my life where I can honestly say that the expectation was incredibly close to my actual experience: a glamorous, sensually rich, marginally profitable trip where I met a number of amazing people. Playing with so many strong pros inspired me as I look forward to a busy poker summer. As so many new friends shouted to each other in Monaco as we rushed into cabs for the Nice airport: "See you in Vegas!"