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Daniel - Poker Journal

Countries I've Been To

13 Sep 2011

With the center of the poker universe shifting away from the U.S., many serious players have gotten out of dodge and headed to either Canada, Mexico, or various spots across Europe. The term "rounder" at least for Americans, is actually applicable now, even if you are just an online grinder.

It had me thinking about how many countries I've actually been in during my life. I've been to loads of cities across North America, but as far as actual countries go, the number isn't as big as I thought it might be, but I assume it's more than the average American:

1. Australia- been to both Sydney and Melbourne a few times. Shot a cameo in X-MEN Wolverine in Sydney one trip, and another fun group trip for an APPT as well as catching several concerts with friends.

2. Austria- Been to Vienna for a heads up tourney ages ago, then also came 4th in EPT Vienna last year.

3. Bahamas- As long as PokerStars holds their flagship event there, I'll be in Bahamas every January for, well, the rest of my life ish.

4. Canada- Um, was born there.

5. Costa Rica- Played an LAPT there, another event ages ago, and had an ex-girlfriend who lived there. Pura Vida!

6. Fiji- Was there for a few hours but ended up having a blast anyway! Place is gorgeous and I'm definitely planning on making a trip out there again some day.

7. France- First trip was WPT Paris at Aviation Club. Will never forget that one. Had yet to make a TV final table on WPT, was chip leader for about 5 hours 7 handed, but they made a weird rule where the blinds would not go up at all. All the short stacks doubled, and I eventually got it all in versus the eventual winner, David Benyamine on a 7-4-2 flop. I had 7-4 vs 10-10. Was a crushing blow at the time.

8. Germany- EPT Dartmond one trip where I slept in on day two for the first time in my life no thanks to my friend Lina Olaofsson saying "One more drink" about 15 times! Needless to say I didn't fare well on day two. Thanks Lina!!!

9. Holland- I think we were in Amsterdam for all of two days? Evelyn and Lex showed me, Stapes, and Amanda around the red light district. I was expecting it to be really dirty and full of less than attractive prostitutes. It wasn't dirty at all, and the prostitutes didn't look anything like the ones who hang out in Vegas. So I was surprised on both accounts. Oh, and they also have "coffee houses" where you can legally partake in marijuana or whatever else toots your horn.

10. Hungary- In Budapest now for the first time just getting settled in. Will be doing a PokerStars promo event here, while also WCOOPing as much as possible. Hope to take a few days to see the city also. WCOOPs start around 5pm here so I have all day to roam around.

11. Italy- San Remo was my first trip there and I'll be going back again this year. I honestly think Italian is the easiest language in the world to learn, along with it's Latin sister, Spanish, since words sound pretty much how you might think they'd sound.

12. Jamaica- Been there a couple times and it feels like home to me in a bizarre way. Most of my friends growing up were Jamaicans, and I'm very familiar with Rasta culture. I also speak the language which often trips out the locals and the people at customs.

13. Japan- Not sure if this counts, but whatever, I was at the airport there in transit from Philippines. I remember a cute little Japanese woman greeting me as I landed after a 14+ hour flight letting me know, "Must run ok?" Then we ran through the airport, me carrying a heavy backpack and feeling so out of shape all I could think was, "I used to run long distance races, damn I need to get back in shape." I could barely keep up with the woman, but we did make the flight...and I was sore for a couple days. Pretty lame I know.

14. Isle of Man- I was there to witness history, when EPT creator and all around good guy John Duthie won the first ever poker tournament that was broadcast live on television. The concept was well before it's time and Duthie played an uber aggressive brand of poker you just didn't see back then. Oh, and the first night I was there I had beers with Padraig Parkinson and peed my bed that night for the first and last time of my life. When I woke up (wet, I know TMI, TMI) Padraig looked fresh as a daisy and had two pints of Guinness sitting in front of him.

15. Mexico- Been there as part of a cruise and at least one other time that I can remember. Sorry, don't remember much else!

16. Montenegro- Was just there grinding WCOOP's while Krisztina played a tournament. Place is gorgeous and the hotel room was top five I've stayed in lifetime. Very nice.

17. Philippines- Was there for an APPT event in the midst of a long journey away from home. Golfed one day, and other than that pretty much stuck to the casino.

18. Portugal- Was there last year for EPT Villamoura and actually won the Golf/Poker event no thanks to my golf skills! It was a small tourney and lots of fun.

19. Romania- Was there when I was 10 years old and stayed for a month. Absolutely loved my experience there as a child, and finally went back last year for a mini media tour. We were only there for 3 days but I'd like to definitely go back at some point.

20. Spain- Barcelona is my favorite stop in Europe and I attend the EPT there every year. Right on the beach, just a great atmosphere. I was also in Madrid this year for the EPT Grand Final, but it was a quick in and out trip and I didn't see much of it at all.

21. Sweden- Was there for a few days to do a fun commercial with former Toronto Maple Leafs captain, Mats Sundin. Sundin is a great guy and we talked lots of hockey. If I ever get a spare 100 or 200 million and buy an NHL team, I'd hire Mats to work with the team, we saw eye to eye on literally everything.

22. Switzerland- Not sure if this counts either, but when I went to Romania as a kid we had a layover in Switzerland. It was awesome to me at the time, the idea of being in a different country with a different language, even though we never left the airport.

23. United Kingdom- I actually enjoy London, especially the food options available to vegans in the city. Doesn't hurt that I've always had a lot of success at the WSOPE there, and also got my first ever EPT cash in London last year.

23. United States- First time I walked the strip in Las Vegas it was clear to me "This is where I belong." Since then, I've visited loads of US cities, but none matched San Diego in terms of quality of life and options.

More and more I find that being near the beach adds to the quality of your life no matter what you are doing. There are plenty of countries I'm interested in seeing before I die. A short list includes:

Greece
Brazil
Thailand
Israel
South Korea

There is an EPT event in Greece this November but I don't think I'll make it out there this year. Brazil I'll make it to eventually, poker is continuing to boom there and I should definitely make an appearance at some point.
Thailand I hear is beautiful and one of my good friends is Thai so he could show us around. Israel is a must for me. My two best friends from high school, more like bothers really, are Israeli and spending weekends at there place most weekends allowed me to pick up a decent amount of Hebrew. There is so much I'd want to see in Israel, so much history, so much I've read about that I imagine would only sink in if I saw it in the flesh.
One of my other best friends moved back to South Korea and it would be fun to visit him and see him again. He actually moved there to help run a poker club. I won't be going there to play, most likely to drink beer and sing Karaoke horribly!

Being in Budapest is a bit surreal. Normally I'm completely independent no matter where I go, but not much English is spoken here and my Hungarian isn't sharp enough to carry me on my own. They don't take Euro, so Krisztina is essentially my sugar momma while here, paying for everything! I'm not sure exactly how long I'll be here, but my next stop will be EPT London. Some really big WCOOPs on the way this coming week. I've had 6 cashes so far in 22 events, but haven't been able to run good late and make a final table. I will, and I'll bet on it!




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