About me and this blog


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I am Terrence Chan, and this is used to be my poker and personal blog. It has been going since December 2004, when I quit my job and first began playing poker for a living.

In the latter part of the 2000s, I achieved some level of notoriety playing high-limit hold'em games. Along the way I managed to win WCOOP and SCOOP titles and achieve some modest success in the WSOP and live poker circuit. I am now a member of Team Hero Poker.

My main hobby/passion are the martial arts that are typically associated with the sport of MMA: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai boxing, western boxing, and wrestling.

Finally, you can sign up for my 140-character thoughts by following me on Twitter @tchanpoker.

2011 WSOP wrap-up

Wow. Every year from 2005-2010, I posted about every WSOP event I played. Sometimes the posts were quite short and abbreviated, sometimes because the tournament itself was short and abbreviated, or sometimes because the tournament was quite long and exhausting and I didn't feel like writing. Sometimes I squished a few entries into one post to save time and effort. But never has there been a WSOP like this one, where I basically haven't written in any significant detail about a single event.

(Really, I blame Twitter.)

By the numbers, total buy-ins of $59000 and total cashes of just $10394, so it was not a successful WSOP. I've certainly had worse (2008), though. In spite of taking a lot of flak from poker people in and outside of my own house for missing a big chunk of the WSOP due to my unfortunate decision to follow around the Stanley Cup Final, I was very workmanlike once I did get into Vegas for the long-haul. I saw at least some action on 16 of 20 days between June 16 and July 5, and I had already missed a lot of the events I was really looking forward to playing.

As mentioned in my last/other WSOP report, I don't feel I played that well for much of this WSOP, but I did learn a lot about myself. I was reminded that as for as cold and calculated a gambler that I like to think I am, I am indeed quite human and need to be on guard against mental errors. I also learned to not throw in the towel when tournaments don't seem to be going my way. You don't get to 5x your starting stack by dinner every day and can't you play worse just because you haven't done it. I've become a lot more mentally tough and that part of being mentally tough is not necessarily just avoidance of tilt-jamming all your chips but it can often be a re-steal not attempted or a bet saved.

And I think it's important to learn these lessons because I feel like, when it comes down to it, I can be a darn good no-limit tournament player when I play up to my potential. The main thing is that latter clause. You take someone who just okay or reasonably good at poker, and well, it's actually hard for that person to get a lot better. But to already be a strong player and be sure you play strong all the time? That shouldn't be hard. Playing to your own potential should be the easy part.

And of course, this applies to life just as much as it does to poker. As usual, I won't be playing too much poker for the next little while. I'll be focusing on the non-poker things that make me happy: being slammed into the mat, kicked in the head, punched in the face, and having my joints twisted around in unnatural ways. I've been lazy as shit this WSOP with my training and I fully expect to get ass-kicked back in Vancouver, but I'm going to work hard, and try to get a little closer to my potential every day. Join me, won't you?

My World Series of Errors

On the surface, my WSOP has been pretty uninteresting. Because I missed much of it (including many of my best events) due to the Stanley Cup Finals, I've only played 11 events through Event #47 today. I have one small cash (105th for $6153) and am down 8.53 buy-ins or $30347. Overall, a pretty mediocre series but far from a bad one.

I am, however, very upset at myself in terms of how I've played in the WSOP. Like the Canucks team I followed in the postseason, at times I have been lights out and made great decisions. But I've also blundered tremendously on a number of occasions. This is really concerning to me. This is actually very rare behaviour for me. Throughout my poker career I feel as though I've been a paragon of consistency. I feel like I was never really the best, but I never really tilted and never made grievous blunders. I was just fairly good, all the time. But I've made a lot of fuckups in this WSOP. In the 3k PLO event I made errors on two separate hands based on stack size; in one I failed to re-raise with aces when I could have gotten about 40% of my stack in the middle, and on the other I re-raised myself off the winning hand because I miscounted my opponent's stack. Given that managing stack sizes is a key aspect of pot-limit these are pretty unforgivable mistakes.

I was very excited to play today's 10k 6-max. I knew it would be a tough field but a beatable one for me if I played well, and I knew I'd have to play well. There would be no danger of me spewing off chips like a maniac out of boredom like in the $1000 or $1500 tournaments. And today I probably played over 500 hand and am happy with my decisions on 498 of them. (I had a hand where I folded QQ and was shown AK, but given available information at the time I thought it was a reasonable decision.) In the moments leading to my bustout hand I was annoyed to have not many chips, but yet proud that I had played well to still be here despite the things that went against me. But my bustout hand was simply embarrassing, as I just fucked up basic arithmetic and thought I was getting the right price on a call that I wasn't.

It's very annoying, because poker is getting tougher year after year, and so the margin of error shrinks smaller and smaller. The types of mistakes I am making are just so avoidable and so careless. It would almost be better if I were just a weaker poker player and simply wasn't equipped to beat these tournaments. But that's not the case. I honestly do feel that I am good enough to be anywhere from a solid to a big favourite in these fields. But if I just continue to shoot myself in the foot doing making horrible inattentive blunders, then what can my edge actually be? It does no good to play lights-out poker and carve out an extra few blinds worth of ev here and there yet occasionally make huge blunders that cost heaps of them. It's like being a pro blackjack player who can memorize a super-complex system, side track aces, knows all the count adjustments, gets deep penetration, but randomly screws up and doubles on hard 13 -- all those accumulated edges just get nullified in one shot.

It's actually been a very very long time since I was truly frustrated with poker. I simply don't play enough of it these days for that to really happen. One benefit of this is that I'm a lot fresher and I have a much more positive attitude when I go into tournaments, and I think that counts for a lot. But it is also possible that some of these big blunders are manifestations of table rust. Or maybe it could be my sleep (which has been extremely poor during this WSOP), or any number of other factors. One thing I do know is that there are only about 3-5 tournaments left on my 2011 WSOP schedule, so I'd really like to at least make it deep in one of them and be able to say that I played every hand well. Even though I don't really deserve it, I hope I get the chance to redeem myself.
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Ashamed in Vancouver: The city I love, and the idiots I have to share it with

What can one say that hasn't been said by everyone? In a matter of less than 12 hours it's already become a cliché to say that the events of Wednesday night were a disgraceful embarrassment. I'm deeply and incredibly saddened by my city, the city which -- no matter where I was in the world -- was the one I identified with. The city in which I was raised and that I ultimately thought that one day I would raise my family and my kids. I've always been so proud to be able to travel abroad and say that I am from Vancouver. Everyone I said it to always beamed with jealousy, saying they'd loved their trip to Vancouver or that they'd always heard it was great.

The line from the Vancouver Police Department and the politicians is that some "small number of troublemakers" were responsible for this. I was there, and it was no small number. There were thousands on the streets. Maybe not all of them were actively overturning cars, smashing windows and tossing stones, but just being in the mob at all makes you a moron.

The other line that's frequently trotted out is that "these are not hockey fans". Yet one moment of the footage stands out to me in particular, a guy in a Henrik Sedin #33 jersey smashing a burning car. Seriously, a Henrik jersey? This is a guy considered one of the classiest people in the entire NHL, a true team leader and a guy who quietly donated millions of dollars to Children's Hospital. And I just wonder about this mentality. I was in the building for Game 7 and when that 3-0 goal went in, I was emotionally done. I can't even tell you what happened in the third period because I was barely watching and pretty much just forlorn. I was fighting back tears in the second intermission talking to Adam when he summed it up: "We're grown adults. How do we let ourselves get so emotionally invested in watching guys skate up and down the ice?" I had no energy in the third period, and the prevailing mood in the arena seemed to be with me. I planned to make it through the presentation of the Stanley Cup, but I decided I didn't have it in me to watch the Bruins skate it around, and left early. And thus I was one of the first people in my group to see the fire and clouds of smoke first emerging from near the Canada Post building on Georgia Street.

I just didn't get it because I wasn't angry. There was nothing to be angry about. Boston was clearly the better hockey team. Better goaltending, better defensive coverage, and scoring contributions from everyone when they needed them. We got outplayed, what's there to be angry about? I was just sad, because once again Lucy pulled the football away when I came running up to kick it. Where do these guys find the energy to riot? And why are they so happy? I mean these guys are wearing Canucks gear, why aren't they as devastated as I am? How does lighting a car on fire make them feel better? I was watching these guys and there is nothing but pure joy in their faces as they wantonly vandalize and destroy the property of others.

As I talked about in my last post being a pro sports fan doesn't really make sense. As Adam and I watched the riot on television, Adam tweeted that we should lose our team for this. He explained further to Spencer and I that he is just angry, because he doesn't want to be a fan of the same team these people are fans of. He wants to hate what they like. And of course that doesn't make any sense, but it's totally understandable. We are a joke. I watched the news and saw Boston celebrate their win in a positive way. They mentioned that there were just 7 arrests in Boston. As badly as they treated us in Boston, they ended up being orders of magnitude more classy than us. And it has nothing to do with winning versus losing. These people in Vancouver would have done this whether it was 4-0 Boston, 2-1 Boston or 12-0 Vancouver. It's just an absolute joke and I'm embarrassed to be a Vancouverite. I'm sick to my stomach that I don't get to wear my pride in being from here on my sleeve any more. After tonight, we don't deserve to be proud.

I was only 13 in 1994, so I asked Adam whether 2011 was worse, and he said that it definitely was. All I'd heard going into Game 6 and Game 7 was that the police were ready and they did not expect a repeat of '94. Maybe the success of the 2010 Olympics went to their heads because to me, they seemed totally unprepared. The first cops on the scene did not have riot gear. They were not in formation. They were badly outnumbered and it could have gone very bad in that period where they were awaiting reinforcements from other cities. Speaking of which, why were those reinforcements only called in after shit went bad? They should have had riot police from other Canadian cities ready to go. There should have been a big show of force as a deterrent. Someone should get fired for this because it was easily preventable and they fucked up.

But in the end it's not about the cops, it's about the idiots. I mean what can you say about this guy, for just one example. This tosses aside any idea that us Canadians are better, or that our west-coasters are laid-back hippies. When you get enough of us together, we're as fucked up as anyone else, and we don't even have a good reason. We live in a beautiful city with a consistently solid economy and high standard of living. While I have no love for their politics, at least when the left-anarchists smash things up at G7 and G20 summits they are doing it for a reason, misguided as it may be. These retards are overturning cars and lighting them on fire just so they can yell "wooooohoooooo!" like it's an awesome party. Adam says he doesn't want to cheer for the same team as these people. I don't even want to be from the same city as them.

I could go on for a while and I had a few more thoughts, but my flight to Vegas is boarding, and never have I been so glad to get out of this city. Every year when I leave for the WSOP it's always bittersweet because Vancouver is so awesome this time of year. This year I can't get out of here fast enough.

Home or Away? Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals

This is Robson Street, the most well-known street in Vancouver and its major downtown commercial thoroughfare. This picture was taken by me on my crappy cameraphone at about 1 AM. As you can see, it is completely deserted on this Sunday night. It's true that it's late, and people do have to work tomorrow, but usually there are at least a few signs of life. But not tonight.

About 18 hours from now, it is possible that this intersection -- like almost every intersection in downtown Vancouver -- will be a veritable orgy of celebration. The Canucks are one win away from the first ever Stanley Cup win in their 41-year history and better than 3:1 favourites to win the series at this stage.

For a very long time, the Canucks were a very bad team. They were especially bad in my early childhood. They were probably the worst team of the 1980s with the exception of New Jersey (which happens to be my Eastern team). But as early as I can remember, I cheered for this hopelessly inept team. I do wonder why I loved these losers so much. My parents emigrated to Canada and Vancouver in the 1970s as Chinese immigrants from Hong Kong who wouldn't know an icing from a high-sticking. But today they are both Canucks fans, because their only son was such a rabid one, who like every other kid refused to obey his bedtime when his team was in any game.

When one really thinks about it, professional team sports are a silly thing. Players are sent this way and that way, and millions of people in any given city are cheering for logos. The bonds tying the players to the cities they represent are not non-existent, but nor are they forged in steel. It is slightly insane that people have this tremendous passion for watching other people shoot pucks with sticks, toss balls into hoops, kick other balls into nets, and run yet other balls into end zones. To anyone who says that team fandom and passion is totally irrational: yeah, okay, you're right. But you're also missing out on the tremendous amount of fun that you'd be experiencing if you just turned your brain off a little bit. Just look at the joy around you. As Jerrod said to me as he observed the Canucks fans at the Palazzo sportsbook going crazy after our Game 5 win: "Sports are awesome."


To Boston, or not to Boston?

I busted out of the $2500 6-max limit hold'em at the WSOP at around 4 PM today. I had a choice for Game 6: a midnight flight to Boston or a 9 PM flight to Vancouver. It was a tough one. I had always said I would go to Boston if it was a potential Cup-clincher for the Canucks. There is nothing that can possibly compete with being there live to see the team you've lived and died by win for the first time. Or is there?

I called up some friends. Basically I called up anyone I thought potentially had the means (and insanity) to go to Boston on a few hours notice to go to the game with me. I posted on Facebook. But it quickly became apparent that I was pretty much the only one this nuts, and that most of my good friends would be in Vancouver for Game 6. The Canucks' slogan for the last few years is "We Are All Canucks", and to be sure, there has been tons of hi-fiving and hugging of strangers this playoffs. It would be great to celebrate with 2000 Canuck fans in Boston. But it would be at the cost of celebrating with 2 million Canucks fans in Vancouver, including all of my closest Canuck fan friends.

Professional sports teams are shared by the community in which the team plays. I've always enjoyed going to away games in my Canucks jersey and being the bad guy and taking the abuse. I'm proud to represent the team on the road. But this isn't the game for it. The reason we got so much abuse hurled at us in Boston is because their fans want it just as bad as we do. The message the Bruins fans sent to us was clear. "You are the bad guys. This is our house. You don't belong here, and you are not welcome here." And in their own meathead douchebag way, they're absolutely right. I don't belong there. I belong with the fans of my team. Because that's what being a sports fan is about.

So even if the Canucks are skating around with the Cup in Boston, I think the place to be is Vancouver. I don't know yet where I'll be between the hours of 5 PM and 8 PM tonight, but it'll be among other die-hard Canuck fans. I think that's the way it should be.

Go Canucks Go!

Stanley Cup finals in Boston and the WSOP

I'm in Vegas, where I've been for about the last 30 hours. Before that, I was in Boston. You can kinda guess how that went. Game 3 was particularly bad. Fans were abusive and obnoxious throughout the game. I expect a lot of heckling and I actually love the fun abuse, but a great deal of Boston fans were over the line. There was a lot of shoving, throwing of beer, threats of personal violence, and stuff like that. Security was really inept/unwilling to do anything. And of course, I paid $800 to watch my team get shelled. Game 4 was just as bad hockey-wise, but they stepped up the security in a big way and people for whatever reason were just not being jerks. It also helped that I was in the same section as a lot of Canuck fans/sympathizers including Steve Nash and his girlfriend, who sat next to me, as well as a lot of members of Roberto Luongo's extended family. The Green Men were also in the adjacent section, which also led to beefed up security. Overall though, the trip was just a tremendous bust.

My plan was to come back to Vancouver for Game 5, but my retarded self left my passport in Vegas, so I just finished watching it at the Emeril Lagasse Stadium at the Palazzo. Since I am here I'll probably play the $2500 6-max tomorrow, since the only way I can miss Game 6 would be by final tabling it. I'm about 50-50 on going to Boston. The money and even the two previous blowouts aren't really an issue, but the potential for violence if Vancouver wins (or even if Vancouver loses), is. In Game 4 we resolved this by basically parking inside the arena building and getting in the car immediately, so this might work.

Most Canucks fans are obviously hoping really hard that there isn't a Game 7. I am really hoping there isn't: the 10k limit hold'em is that day. If you're reading this, you probably know what I plan to do in the event of that conflict.

back in the USA

This post comes to you from Las Vegas, where I finished Day 1 of the $5000 NL hold'em (with not nearly as many chips as I'd like). As I announced on this week's 2+2 Pokercast, I was approved for a visa into the United States and will be attending the 2011 World Series of Poker (but most of it after the Canucks win the Stanley Cup, of course).

I was still quite adamant up to a couple months ago that I would not be returning to the U.S. A number of people did advise me, upon seeing me in person in Australia, that I should see a lawyer "just in case". It was an argument that did make sense. It didn't help that my WSOP housemates started copying me on house related e-mails in February. So I decided to contact one of the lawyers who posted on my blog after the initial denial. I chose Cory Caouette of bsis.com and he turned out to be fantastic and if you find yourself needing visa help for the US, I recommend that you get in touch with him via his website. Getting the visa was some amount of paperwork and hassle, but once at the consulate's office the person assisting me was courteous and professional. I was approved three days after my appointment.

Ultimately the decision to return to the U.S. was not really one of poker (or even hockey). It's one of friendship. While it'd have been nice to see my American friends all over the world, that wasn't happening, and the weeks that I spend at the WSOP in our house are without question the best weeks out of my year. It's not about the WSOP, it's about the friends and good times. If the WSOP were held in any other country -- or if it ceased to exist altogether, but the same group of people were forced by some circumstance to meet somewhere in the world for seven weeks -- I'm quite sure that I'd still have no desire to come to the U.S. But the camaraderie is something that was too much for me to give up after all. I'm sure I will get some people calling my a hypocrite or smugly cashing in their "I told you so"s. But that's fine; perhaps I deserve them. But depriving myself of my own enjoyment just to avoid those slings and arrows would be pretty silly.

As for my plans going forward: I'm only in Vegas for a couple days. As mentioned, I'm still in the 5k NL (but barely). The current plan is to be back in Vancouver for game 2, and travelling to the US again on Sunday -- this time for Games 3+4 in Boston. I figure if this whole thing about ending the U.S. boycott is about good times and memorable experiences, it should certainly be about watching the Canucks win their first-ever Stanley Cup!

So, I'm back. Now that my ever-so-principled stand has come to an end, I guess I had better make the most of it. Time to run good and cheer loud.
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    United States, Las Vegas
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(partial) Madrid trip report

My impressions of Madrid, having been here for five days now, are very positive. Madrid seems like a very underrated city. It never really seems to get mentioned as a top-tier European city, but I think I like it better than the other Western European cities I have visited for more than a couple days (which admittedly, is a very short list: London, Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona). Cost of living also seems a bit lower here.

The train system seems quite good and taxis seem to be cheaper than most of Western Europe (flagfall is just E2.20). We've also never spent more than 3 minutes waiting for a cab. The centre seems very walkable.

It's probably a bit below average for scenery, not being a coastal town, but the parks seem okay. There is some pretty cool older architecture, in some part due I guess to Spain's non-participation in WW2.

There are a lot of panhandlers. The majority are non-aggressive (simply posting signs while sleeping on the street) but because there are so many of them, the aggressive minority means you are bothered quite frequently. If you are eating outdoors on a big street you are seemingly a favourite to be approached for money.

Late at night there are also a lot of prostitutes, or at least this was the case last Saturday night. Some Russian hooker grabbed my junk as our large group of Canuck jersey-wearing tourists were returning to the hotel. (Speaking of the Canucks, watching American sports in this time zone is one thing that absolutely sucks.)

The girls are very attractive. Probably even better than Vancouver. I'm not entirely sure if it's ratio or volume. Everyone walks around here, so the really hot girls are a lot more visible.

I've yet to find a really great restaurant here, though we've been enjoying the cured ham pretty much everywhere. Suggestions welcome. (On this topic, if you are ever in San Remo for EPT or anything else, eat at Mare Blu. Dan and I ate there every day that it was open.)

One of the best pleasant surprises: I went to a store to buy some bottled water. I asked what time they close. The answer was 3am. Love that. I also like that because Madrid is on CET but almost as far west as Europe gets, the sun is still out at 9pm in May.

As for me, I hosed the tournament, obviously. Am considering side events but I've been working out with ElkY (who has a Muay Thai fight later this year against Lex Veldhuis) and his trainer, so that has been more fun than side events. Might play the SCOOP turbo at 11pm tonight depending what time I get back from dinner and whether the PokerCast team has anything going on.