I am going to have to reach deep into my feminine side for this "Spotlight on Liz" report. For those who know me, finding my kinder, gentler side is a bit like having a quiet moment at a table with Mike Matusow and Phil Hellmuth. But I knew the job was dangerous when I took it and I do promise there is some poker talk from Liz in this article but it may take awhile to get to it.
Liz and I needed some good, quality time to sit down and chat about all things poker and all things World Series as we entered the final week before the Main Event. Now getting Liz to sit still for more than five minutes is like catching a one-outer on the river. Then I discovered that once every four to six weeks, Liz does indeed park herself in a chair for eight to ten hours and I got an invite to attend this unusual event. What you ask would keep the Poker Diva frozen to her chair for all that time? Think hair! Another concept completely foreign to me--hair. Liz spends an entire day getting her lovely tresses arranged, rearranged and rehued. If you haven't seen the latest "club" photos, Liz has gone purple for the remainder of the World Series.
So there we were high atop Las Vegas in a Rio Suite, with Liz framed in the panoramic windows while two coiffure assistants relieve Liz of the current "blue" period locks. The master hair stylist was taking a nap in the Suite's bedroom. He apparently had had a hard day's night of stylizing and flying up from LA to fulfill the Poker Diva's needs.
So now, finally I have Liz all to myself; ready, willing and eager to answer all of my deep and probing questions. First question:
"What are these men doing to you?"
Sorry everyone, we will get to poker in a moment or two, but it's very disconcerting to talk to someone while two gentlemen go at her with modified pliers and tin snips. (OK, just take a moment here boys…….feeling better? Let's continue.) I will come back to the hair-torture process later.
I hope no one is shocked to hear that besides talking to me, Liz is also playing poker online. As a member of the Martins Poker team, Liz plays a lot on the site under her own name. Right at this moment she was playing a $30/$60 cash game and waiting for a heads up opponent in $100/$200 and $200/$400 and $300/$600.
The $200/$400 heads up table suddenly has a player and Liz remarks:
"Well look who came back."
The player who had earlier hit and run after four hands; now is back.
"They always come back, win a little, lose a little, win a lot, they always come back."
About a dozen hands later he runs away again, with another profit.
"What so soon? Well, he'll be back."
During this fifteen minute match, Liz was still playing the $30/$60 game and carrying on the conversation with me and carrying on a running commentary on the heads up table. She was also chatting with some of the players at the $30/$60 table and talking to the railbirds on the $200/$400 table.
"I like playing where there are fans supporting you and chatting with you."
"The problem with online is the chat, I can't keep up with the chat at two tables much less the three or four I used to play. But I am a team member now, playing under my real name. So the fans are important and I like to chat with them on the site."
I did say at the outset that Liz was going to be sitting here for eight hours getting her hair done. I did not say that she wouldn't be multi-tasking the entire time. The phone rings periodically and she takes the business call or politely says:
"I am doing an interview now; I will have to get back to you."
After one such call, Liz looks over and smiles:
"Maybe I could pretend you are always here and just tell everyone I want to avoid that I am doing an interview with you."
Once the heads up table is quiet again, Liz queues all three tables up again to wait for the next player. I asked about her poker play and specifically her tournament play and her cash game sessions at Bellagio.
"You know I finally made a dinner break in the $3,000 Limit event, a moral victory, which does not even pay for dinner. And the bust-out came on a perfect read and I had the best hand going to the river. But it felt good and I played solid,"
About further events before the Main, Liz was fairly sure she was not going to be at the Rio until the $10K event.
"$1500 events just don't give me a thrill, such big fields you have to get lucky way too often; I just don't get it, either someone sucks out on you or you have to suck out. I will wait for the Main Event."
"Maybe another Bellagio session tonight?" I asked.
"I really feel my game is back and the last five sessions at Bellagio have proven that to me. I have had five straight sessions without a loss, but it was close. The other night I was up $20K and then hit a run of second best hands and was stuck almost $30K but I got it back to even. It was not a long session, only seven hours. That seems to be the play at these Bellagio games now; they are short in time and often short-handed."
"What about cash games versus tournaments? Your game was the limit cash games for years. Is there a crossover for you, does one game make the other better or worse?"
"Tournament play has really improved my cash game."
"How so?" I asked.
"After a one-outer hits, you need a walk from the table. I never believed that before I started playing tournaments. I always thought it was just one new hand after another. You play each one separately. But tournament play has taught me it wasn't just the cards; it was me too. Now I stand up and take the walk. Tournament gives me patience that's just the discipline of tournament play but it has improved my cash game too."
I mentioned that so many players are hyper-aggressive in tournaments these days.
"I can muck AK UTG in a heartbeat these days; it's about playing the players not the cards. Particularly in tournaments and especially early in a big field tournament"
I asked about the last WSOP event Liz had played, the $2,500 Pot Limit Hold'em event (#29). Liz went right for her bust-out hand.
"I was in with AT with a big re-raise and thought he would lay down hands like AQ and AJ and perhaps small pairs, that's what the big bet is for. But he was running good and made the call with AQ. I would have made that call too, if I were running good. He had me covered and it was for a third of his 11K stack."
I wanted to talk about the idea of a player "running good," lots of players think and play this way, which seems opposite of the hard math of poker. But even the most rigorous of Implied Value and Pot Odds players will drop comments about running good.
"Oh sure, when you play enough poker you get it that running good and playing your rush are not superstitions at all. Now part of it is that other players at the table will often get out of the way of a player on a card rush, but sure your have to push every edge and when you are running good, you make more plays and you win more pots."
At this point, Liz got tied up in the $30/$60 online game and began talking to the laptop again.
"No don't fold, give me some of that money back!"
"Is this how Gavin plays when you interview him, is he yelling at the screen and IMing his friends?"
Yes and yes.
"So Liz, what are you going to be doing between now and the Main Event?"
"Well there are a couple of things. I have friends coming into town this weekend, so a few shows or clubs and definitely some shopping. I told you that the new hair color (purple) goes with the theme color in Roberto Cavalli's new line. I have several of those already but…well there are always more clothes."
"Yes there are 60 WSOP qualifiers from Martin's coming into town this Sunday for a meet and greet before the Main Event and we will be having some events for them, a barbeque and some other get-togethers."
Remember that during all of this time, a little over an hour, the blue hair extensions are piling up on the floor around Liz's chair as the two pliers-wielding assistants de-tress the diva. There is what I thought was a huge pile of purple hair extensions on the table, which I had foolishly assumed were the entire output of a troupe of purple hair extension monkeys for the year but I slowly realize that there are dozens and dozens of blue strands that have to come out before the new hue begins to attach itself. Most of that purple mound is going to be part of the 'Liz Look' in about six more hours.
I shake off the mind-boggling process going on in front of me and find a few more questions in my notebook.
"Any quirks or superstitions at the table?"
"I do not change chips for anyone. It's giving my luck away. I never do it. Layne Flack got so mad at me one night at the Bellagio for not changing a 5K chip for him. I do believe he used the "B" word but I had my headphones on so I just pretended I didn't hear him. I never change chips for anyone."
"I know you live in Los Angeles but you are buying a place here in Las Vegas?"
"Yes, I am in the Panorama Towers. Me and Barry Greenstein, Antonio Esfandiari, Toby McGuire, David Williams and several others. I have no idea when it will be done; the date keeps getting pushed back."
"You like the purple?" she asks.
"Well right now it's a pile of hair on the table, so I might have the best perspective. You've gone with the purple before right?" I answer.
Liz laughs: "Oh sure, I even consider blond again but you know what everyone thinks of the blond?"
"I'm not sure I do." I say as innocently as I can muster.
"Well people see blond on an Asian girl and they think slut!"
"I don't want to be a freak- just unique."
"I don't want to be like everyone else."
"Maybe some platinum with the purple."
"I'm a trophy that's up on a high shelf; lots of people want it but its hard to obtain, that's what I want, a high pedestal that's very hard to reach."
Finally the blue removal is done, the implements of destruction are put aside and the coloring begins to be followed by the new color extensions being added, five or six more hours, I am told. I excuse myself from the Rio tower with the great view and the pile of blue hair on the floor.
Just another day, away from the tables, for the Poker Diva.