At home in London
Going to London is always exciting for me. It feels like a home away from home. I've probably been there a total of ten times, and I lived in London briefly last spring. It feels similar to New York City, which is where I grew up, and I realized that it's not the aesthetics of London that are New York-ish, but rather, the degree to which I know it.
When I go to London, I know where I want to go, what I want to eat, and what I want to do. As poker players, we travel a lot, but it's rare that we stay someplace long enough or see enough of the city to really know it. This is not true of London. In London, I know the tube, I have a favorite bar, I have must-go-to restaurants, and I even have a regular hairdresser. One of my favorite things to do in a city, and especially in London, is to just meander its various neighborhoods and get a feel for the culture. My favorite spot in London is definitely SoHo. From the cobbled streets and alleyways, to the art, to the funky shops, I love everything about it.
When visiting London, I usually stay in Mayfair, Marylebone, or Pimlico, but this time I was staying with Liv Boeree, another professional poker player, at her first grown up home--a modern penthouse in Wandsworth, which is in southwest London. It was nice to stay with a friend, but I definitely missed feeling in the middle of the action.
I wasn't there to sightsee, though, and I arrived in London ready to play lots of poker. I even declined an offer to go to Dublin to celebrate St. Patrick's Day so that I could stay back and grind Sunday tournaments with friends.
All in all, I ended up playing four live events--the Main Event, two High Rollers, and one smaller side event. I was optimistic going into each event, but I ended up bricking the series, not cashing in any of them. In fact, I haven't cashed since winning the High Roller at PCA, and I'm on a bit of a downswing. That can be super frustrating, especially when I feel like I'm playing well. In your mind, you know you need to try and be unfazed by it so that you can keep playing your best. You have to maintain an "On to the next one" frame of mind. Downswings propel some people to want to play more and more poker, but they always make me ease my foot off the gas and slow down a little bit. I always want to feel good when I'm playing poker, and if I don't, I need to take a minute and clear my head.
Right now, my fiancée and I are packing up our place in Los Angeles and spending some last minute time with friends. This week, we're shipping our things out on a truck, then driving cross country, stopping in various fun cities to see the sights. We're heading to Phoenix, Austin, Memphis, Louisville, and Niagara Falls, which I'm pretty excited about. She's also coming with me to EPT Berlin in the middle of April, having never been there before. One of my close friends, Pierre, who lives in Paris, is planning on meeting us there, and hopefully I'll be able to spend some time just hanging out and enjoying all Berlin has to offer. I've been to Berlin twice now, and my general impression of Berlin is that it's an amazing city, and while I don't know it as well as I know London, I look forward to getting to know it better.
Vanessa Selbst is a member of Team PokerStars Pro