EPT10 Sanremo: So, Liv Boeree, what *does* it feel like?
Liv Boeree is a big fan favourite. We know this because pretty much anything that we write about her becomes a bit.ly buster, i.e. an article that clocks up clicks faster than 'woman falls down hole' or 'Charlie bit my finger'. She's a player in demand, both from the poker public at large and presses mainstream and industry. And it's little surprise why.
The Brit won EPT Sanremo back in Season 6 - that's 2010 to people more familiar with the Gregorian calendar - and hasn't really been out of the spotlight since. Boeree was quickly feted by PokerStars to join Team Pro combining a big title, winning looks and effortless interviewing finesse. She's since been kept busy presenting the UK and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT), gracing magazine covers, taking part in TV chats, such as the BBC interview below, and, of course, playing poker.
None of this media would have happened if she hadn't won that Main Event for €1,250,000 (although perhaps Boeree would argue otherwise). On balance, it's worth it. You get to travel the world playing poker for millions of dollars, but the downsides of being an in-demand sponsored face of the game include being asked the same questions over and over again. And then again some more. We asked her yesterday morning to keep a track of how many times she was asked what it was like to be back in Sanremo.
A Finnish poker reporter aimed that question at her within five minutes. Boeree aimed a raised eyebrow at PokerStars Blog over the Finn's shoulder. And it happened again during the first break of play today, just moments after Boeree stepped away from the webcast feature table. This time is was a roaming PokerStars TV crew. That's two right there in little more than 24 hours.
"I think we're at about four or five," said Boeree, who I'd walked out with as looked to grab a breaktime sandwich at a café opposite the casino. "It's not that bad. It's going to be more because interview-wise I haven't done too many yet."
EPT Sanremo champions
Season 4: Jason Mercier, €869,000
Season 5: Constant Rijkenberg, €1,508,000
Season 6: Liv Boeree, €1,250,000
Season 7: Rupert Elder, €930,000
Season 8: Andrey Pateychuk, €800,000
Season 9: Ludovic Lacay, €744,910
Maybe it's the sun, maybe it's the spin up from 12,400 to 47,000 that took place in the first two levels of play, but Boeree seems in a better, happier place than last time I interviewed her (I didn't ask what it was like to be in Sanremo then, either). Sure, she can still be quite sharp and cutting, but us Brits are quite a cynical bunch. There's no better way to pass the time than to verbally rip something to shred.
"It can get pretty annoying sometimes," said Boeree, talking of the irritation of the repeat question. "It depends who's asking. I know it sounds strange. But if it's a really mainstream mag it's understandable because they don't know much about poker, but when it's a poker journalist and they go, 'Tell me about how you got into poker...'," Boeree paused and made a face. "You know this story. I'm not telling you something you know. It's a little frustrating."
These little filler questions are sometimes thrown into the mix, but it's essentially pretty lazy interviewing. If someone's taken the time to agree to an interview then the least you can do is try to muster some decent questions. So, are there other questions that send Boeree into full eye-rolling mode?
"Yeah, like 'How's your tournament going?' I don't know, you can see the chip counts. It's fine, I'm still in it. The worst one is "How did you get into poker?" when it's a poker journalist or "How did your life change after Sanremo?" I get it, but it was a while ago. There are other ones. Sorry, actually I know what's number one, 'What's it like being a woman in poker?' Obviously, obviously number one."
Believe me, Boeree does not have a woe-is-me attitude with this, I'm needling her to get it out of her and she's generally chuckling throughout. It's just part of the job as an in-demand sponsored poker player. These guys do get lots of the same questions asked. That's a reality of the job, but it doesn't mean that grinning and regurgitating answers is always easy.
"It really depends on my mood and how my day's going," said Boeree. "If I'm having a great day and in a super friendly mood then I'll be more amenable and more articulate to indulge them, but if I'm having a shitty day then it depends."
This isn't to say that Boeree isn't thankful for the life she lives but, in the same way that I grimace when I check into a nice hotel on tour in some incredible must-visit city just because there's no kettle or ironing board, there are things about everyday life in any job that end up making you roll your eyes. For you, it might be when Simon from accounts doesn't take his turn to make the tea, or that the office junior Keir hums a tune-deaf ditty intermittently throughout the day, or that Ben the station manager pretends to DJ whenever he uses a mouse. It's the repetitive irksome minutiae that irritate the most, such as no duvets in Italy.
"It's like a luxury that's not wanted. No, we don't need that. They give you three sheets instead, or a thin excuse of a blanket. That pisses me off. No kettles? That more bothers me in America. Or no electric kettles. 'We boil our water on the stove.' What is this? The stone ages? Come on. Oh, and no internet," she added with a smile.
Wobbly internet isn't the pro player's best friend, for sure, but in terms of poker it's shaping up to be a great year with $165,951 already on the live tournament scoreboard (bringing her total to $2,447,050). She finished 50th in the PCA Main Event for $32,000, 28th in the Aussie Millions for A$35,000 ($30,619) and runner-up in the UKIPT Edinburgh for £59,180 ($97,058), which you can read about here (Dean Hutchison denies Liv Boeree second major title; wins UKIPT Edinburgh and £93,900).
So has anything changed or is it just variance?I have seen her drinking with the some of the German high rollers. That's not a bad group of players to talk your game through with.
"I've been friends with the Germans for a while," said Boeree. "I've been doing some work with a mental coach. That's helped a lot. It's made me a lot more able to deal with it when cards are shitty and things aren't going well. It's given me some methods to keep emotions under control and keep rational. He works with pro golfers. He's really good. A lot of the bullshit from 2013 that I had on my mind, I've just kind of gotten over it. It's a new year and life is good now."
So this year it's all about winning more all-ins?
"It's more play the best I can and don't care about the all-ins. That's the key thing. I had not been running well, but I have this year. January and February were fantastic, so it all balances out. In terms of 2014, the cards have been cooperating a lot better. More than that, I've been working on a lot of things, not just in poker, but in life, with things that you can't control, and not letting negative people into your life."
With just a few minutes left remaining on the clock of the break, I left Boeree in the stairwell of the Casino di Sanremo. She didn't even get to the top of the stairs before getting collared for another interview. It's a great life and she won't swap it, but it doesn't come without its baggage. Or questions about what it's like to be back in Sanremo.
Boeree bust out after David Yann four-bet shoved into her. Boeree called, but lost a flip.
Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.