When I started playing poker I never ever dreamed of writing about it. When I started writing about it I never dreamed of interviewing people about it. Then one day out of the blue I was asked to interview Dave “The Devilfish” Ulliot. A light went on in my head and knowing that the Late Night Poker heats were running in Cardiff I thought I would try and contact some of the pro’s to ask them if I could interview them. When I heard Liv Boeree was going to attend I sent her an e-mail to ask her if I could interview her and she agreed.
Later that day when my wife arrived home for work and I told her the news. My wife doesn’t know one poker player from another and I didn’t get the excited response that I was hoping for, it appeared that I was alone in my moment of glory. Then out on the horizon riding like the wind was my good friend Neil “Black 4” Farm - he burst through the front door.
“Debbie, have you heard the good news! He is interviewing Liv Boeree!” He shouted across the couch to my wife.
“Yeah, he told me earlier.” Debbie said.
“What do you mean yeah? Have you fucking seen her? She is fucking gorgeous.” Said a very excited Mr. Farm.
He picked up the laptop and googled Liv Boeree and picked out her Maxim Photo shoot pictures.
“That is Liv Boeree!” he said proudly to my wife.
Now she was interested about the interview. Interested but I wouldn’t necessarily say excited!
I was sat nervously in my seat in the bar of the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport. I kept peering around in order to keep an eye out for Liv. It was one of those I know you but you don’t know me moments. When she arrived she was dressed casually in a pair of jeans and a shirt with a pair of shades in her long brown hair. She is naturally beautiful - one of those few girls who doesn’t need to wear make up and in fact you would prefer it if she didn’t.
I was actually very glad that I had decided to undertake my first interview with a female. I felt more comfortable and not at all nervous.
Liv Boeree is 26 years of age and hails from parts unknown. I say unknown because she has been traveling the worldwide poker circuit for a number of years now. The pinnacle of her career so far was her 1st place finish at EPT San Remo where she overcame 1,239 opponents to win the first prize of €1,250,000. Not too shabby for a woman who was first introduced to poker when she entered a competition to star in a reality TV show.
“The Ultimate Bet Reality TV show was the very first time I had played poker.” Said Liv. “Obviously I had heard of the game but I went to an all girls school and none of my family ever played it. Similarly none of my friends at college played it either. I graduated, moved to London and managed to get onto this reality TV show. They managed to keep it a big secret until the unveiling on the first day and then we were told it was a poker show.”
Approximately 10,000 applied for that reality TV show and Liv Boeree was spotted and selected as one of the contestants. She didn’t realise it back then but she had already started to gain the experience of wading through large competitive fields of people.
So how did she start to pick up the various nuances of poker and how did the reality TV show help?
“The very first person to explain the rules of poker to me was Tournament Director Jack McClelland but then I won the first show and as a reward you received private tuition from the Devilfish. So my first ever lessons were from some quite experienced people.” Liv explained.
After getting her break on the show poker became a big part of Liv’s life and she started to play in her local live tournaments for limits ranging between £5 and £50. Then Phil Hellmuth suggested to Absolute Poker that she could be their next spokes model and things began to take off.
“When I think about my poker mentors the first person I think of is Phil Hellmuth. Phil was the person who recommended me to Absolute Poker when he knew they were looking for a new spokes model. That is what enabled me to quit my 9 to 5 job and concentrate on doing this full time. Phil had remembered me from the show, he knew I would work really hard and really wanted it and that is why he recommended me. I love Phil to bits - every time I have needed advice he has always helped me out. Then there was Annie Duke who also knew me through the show, she took me under her wing and invited me out to her house in LA and taught me solidly for a week. She is such an amazing teacher and I got to see an insight into her life, she is a Mum of four children and runs her business very well and is a very busy and successful lady - she was a huge influence.”
Then the networking started and Liv began to build relationships with more people and integrate her into the poker circuit.
“Another person I owe a lot to is Clonie Gowen who introduced me to Michael Binger. Michael started backing me and we became friends. He backed me solidly in small buy-in tournaments for about a year and a half. That allowed me to start really seeing volume in these $1,000 tournaments. Then there are other people I class as friends as well as influences such as Dan Shak and Nik Persaud.”
Then after a series of minor cashes in various events throughout the world she binked her first big one so to speak. What was life like pre and post San Remo?
“The win definitely gave me more confidence but also higher expectations. Then not long after San Remo came the WSOP, which is the most important time of the year. I was definitely trying lots of new things at the series. My game has changed so much in the past five months. I had been coasting along, had a little bit of moderate success here and there and thought that I must be a good player. I took my game for granted and all the time people all around me were getting better and better. I had stagnated completely, wasn’t trying to improve and had gotten lazy. Looking back I am astonished how I could think I was any good.”
What actions did she take to improve her game?
“I didn’t have an official coach to speak of but had a great group of friends. My boyfriend lives with Shaun Deeb. Jeff Madsen and Dave Fox are good friends as are the Binger brothers. They were all talking through hands and I was like why are you talking about poker you have been playing all day? My boyfriend Allie was like Liv you have to start realising this is your job. Then I started getting involved in hand discussions again and it dawned on me that I wasn’t playing well. I started writing down important hands after I busted from tournaments and would discuss them with the guys and they would look after me.”
Does she do a good job of segregated her poker from her life now?
“Yes, I do a better job now. It isn’t a job with set hours. That is something I need to work on. Scheduling is very difficult but I make time for my bands and gigs so in theory it should work. It is definitely something I should work on more. Trying to schedule two to three hours per day working on theory, not necessarily playing poker. I love the online forums they are so good. I am not necessarily a fan of poker books per se but I love the forums.”
So is Liv Boeree a goals orientated person?
“Yes. I would like to be in the top ten players of the world one day. I am nowhere near that now. I am not even scratching the surface but that is one huge goal for me.”
What about outside poker?
“I definitely have goals outside of poker. I would love to have a band and play guitar in it. I would also jump at the chance of presenting something like the Headbangers Ball. I recently got to hear that the members of Iron Maiden has heard about me which was kind of cool.”
What does she think about her nickname?
“I like it, although I do find the idea of a self-made nickname a bit creepy and narcissistic.”
That is the thing with Liv Boeree. From the perspective of the outsider she seems to have multiple personas in the same way that you could view Lara Croft. You see magazine shots of her in rock clothing holding a guitar and smoking a cigar, then you picture her riding her horse and cleaning out shit in her stables and then your next image is off her stunning photo’s in Maxim. So who is the real Liv?
“The Maxim photos were shot in a stunning New York apartment. It is a facet of my personality that doesn’t come out often but it was fun. I have done lots of photos’ with guitars and heavy metal make up. I love that style.”
Does she gamble outside of poker?
“No. I did play craps with Allie once but found it boring. I am a life nit. I will play you for cash in table football or guitar playing but not roulette!”
So if you don’t gamble what do you think of the cash game scene with all of the heavy money flying around?
“Scary! I am more of a tournament player. Cash is an art form. The ability to be completely detached from the value of money, it is all incredibly deep-stacked and therefore a better standard of poker. I am working on my cash game at the moment. I believe it will help my overall game. I am enjoying it a lot more now my understanding of the game has improved.”
What cash games is she playing?
“I have started playing full ring cash games online, mid to small stakes, four tables at a time just trying to get volume in.”
What are her strengths and weakness at the poker table?
“One of my strengths is my ability to use my image against weaker opponents. I mean to use my image dependant on the person’s perspective of it at the time. Some people are going to think I am nice and will give up hands easily, others will know me from my San Remo win, and some people will just think I am a nitty girl. It is having an understanding what category these people come under and trying to play the correct way against them. A weakness is a lack of real expertise, practice and understanding of the deep stack game against deep thinking tough opponents.”
Who are some of the toughest opponents she has faced?
“Some of the people who have beaten the shit out of me are Andrew Robl and Carlos Mortensen. Then there are people who know my game very well like Shaun Deeb and Allie. James Dempsey was on my table at San Remo and he was tough also.”
What did her family think of her decision to reach out for the main prizes in the poker world instead of a Nobel Peace Prize?
“They were very unsure to start off with. My Dad was a little bit more excited when I started presenting. When I used to tell them that I was going down to the Gutshot to play in a tournament they thought I was heading into a dodgy underground den with knives and guns. They had their reservations. Then I would call my Mum and tell her I had just won £500 - only ever giving her the good results. They were nervous but started to see that I was very good with money. I remember really wanting to play in the GUKPT Main Event but £1,000 was two months rent! Now they are ecstatic and are my biggest fans. They are always there to give me advice on my business dealings and give me a shoulder to cry on when I need it.”
What did it feel like being invited onto GMTV?
“It was fantastic, and a real honour to be asked to go and talk about poker to the masses! It was pretty scary doing something live that had so many viewers. It got a positive reaction although I was surprised to hear about a few people on poker forums complaining about it - surely we want more people to know about the game to bring in fresh fish?”
Getting a bit more personal I asked her some questions that had been posted on the Hendon Mob Forum.
Fender or Gibson?
“Neither. I prefer Jackson guitars but if I had to pick one it would be Gibson.”
Satriani or Vai?
Marshall or Vox?
What is your favourite album?
“Metallica - Master of Puppets.”
What is your guilty pleasure?
“I love a good foot rub.”
What part of your body would you change if you could?
“I would like bigger boobs and to be a little bit taller perhaps but nothing really bothers me.”
Bargain Hunter or Designer Labels?
What is the best ever present a bloke has bought for you?
“My first car from my Dad. A Citroen Saxo.”
After the interview was over I jumped in the car and all of my friends rang me to ask me what she was like? I found her to be a very beautiful, confident and clever cookie. Not only does she have the raw talent for playing the game of poker but she has the ability to connect with people - call it gift of the gab if you like. She knows how to network and poker is about networking. It is just as much about who you know as what you know.
And the wife needn’t worry either. Not only does she have a boyfriend but also she goes for big muscular hairy tough guys and I am a gay weedy looking, skinny guy with four hairs on my chest, one in my nipple and super small guns!
This article appeared in Bluff magazine.