Monday, 16 December 2013

Golden SNGs Review

Last year I complained about the fact that SNG players had a lack of promotions compared the the cash game players. Seeing that every billionth [cash game] hand there is free cash giveaways, and happy hour for cash too, it didn't seem right. Yes, we had the Battle of the Planets promotion, but that was an ongoing thing and is actually quite hard to achieve.


On the first week of December, Pokerstars had their 3rd Golden SNG promotion. They had one in June, October and December. The idea of the Golden SNG is that they are randomly chosen SNGs that have extra money added into the prizepool. It is a fantastic idea and a great way to get more players playing SNGs those weeks.

The snazzy golden coloured table when you get a Golden SNG!
The promotion started in mid June and was part of the road to 100 billion hands celebrations.

There are 3 different types of Goldens;

  • 2x Multiplier - Double prizepool and Double buy in back for all players.
  • 4x Multiplier - Quadruple prizepool and 4x buy in back for all players.
  • 10x Multiplier - 10x prizepool and 10x buy in back for all players.

In October they had it again as part of the Carnival of Tournaments promotion, celebrating 800 million tournaments;
  • BIG - 2x Multiplier and 2x buy in back.
  • BIGGER - 3x Multiplier and 3x buy in back.
  • BIGGEST - 5x Multiplier - and 5x buy in back.
Now seems a bit weird to name them this way since "Biggest" is smaller then the 10x from June's Golden SNGs.

December's Goldens part of the December Festival promotion and were like this;
  • Bronze - Your buy in back.
  • Silver - 3x Multiplier and 3x buy in back.
  • Gold - 5x Multiplier and 5x buy in back.
I'm sure your noticing a theme going on here. Seems like these Goldens are gettting cheaper and cheaper. I managed to finally hit 2 Goldens in December and they were both Bronze ones :(. In fact it really didn't feel that much of a promotion, I have no idea why they decided to not 2x the prizepool, it seemed like the logical pattern. I mean, freerolling is nice, but then you are just playing for a regular SNG and that doesn't seem that special at all. What is the thinking behind this adjustment to the Goldens?

Maybe they increased the chance of getting a Golden and in turn decided to scrap the 2x prizepool? If that is the case then it doesn't really make sense to do that because well, Goldens are random and therefore people shouldn't really complain about getting/not getting them?

To me obviously the June promotion is the best, but if they only wanted to give away 5x then keep to the October promotion. Hitting the two Goldens where you only got your buy in back wasn't really that exciting and to be honest quite disappointing.

Now of course I'm gonna get a bunch of people saying that I should appreciate the fact that there is a promotion coz there easily could be nothing. The point I'm trying to make really is about consistency. If your gonna do a promotion, do it well and make it make sense. If it aint broke then why fix it? I like the Golden SNGs and thought that it was fantastic that finally SNGs are getting a promotion, but it just seems that Pokerstars are making them cheaper and cheaper lol... What's going on?

Saturday, 30 November 2013

My Hongky Kong! Part 2 - #Foodie



Such a late part 2, I'm so lazy haha! 

There's nothing better in my opinion then spending time with friends eating! Its a great icebreaker and you get to enjoy some great food as well (hopefully). I spend a lot of time meeting people and had the pleasure of enjoying some amazing food in Hong Kong!


THE CHEAP 'N DIRTY

The food within this category I would say is definitely one for the cheap ones. Foreigners might shy away from this because for this price, it seems kinda dirty and crowded. But that's part of the experience! What is interesting is that the cheap and dirty style foods are still appreciated by everyone pretty much, even the wealthy embrace it here, all that matters is the taste!

STREET FOOD - Here you will see market stall style foods being sold. Usually meat on a stick like fishballs or battered food, its kinda made for walking and eating. Super cheap stuff, like $5 HK Dollars which is about 50p or just over $1 usa!

Various fish/meat balls, seafoody stuff and sausages on a stick!
These street food venders like stay open for real late so it can be a good snack on the way home after clubbing or a late night out.

LOCAL RESTAURANTS - These might seem kinda shoddy but in fact they do fantastic food. I remember in London there was a cheap Chinese restaurant place that was famous for terrible service, but it was cheap so it stayed in business! Kinda like that these local places seem kinda dirty, and actually its now a given that you get some boiling water and rewash your bowls! Oh, and also the menu is in Chinese most of the time, but most people can still speak some kinda English.

I remember having this awesome "Ying Yang" rice dish at a local restaurant, which is a white sauce and a tomato sauce with rice!

A more food court style place where the food is great and the prices are cheap! But yea, wash your bowls...

I've also heard that the old Hong Kong Airport has now used that space to be a massive outdoor marketplace seafood place.


THE MIDDLE GROUND

These are basically less dirty, but a bit more expensive options. More formal, but still fun!

YUM CHA - This directly translates into "Drinking Tea" but is used as a term to describe having lunch. The lunches would consist of many small dishes, mainly dumpling style foods like various prawn dumplings and even the foreigner favorite Cha Tsu Bow (BBQ Pork Bun)!

Yum Cha at a restaurant in Sha Tin... 3 Floors of it!
What makes these different to the Chinese Restaurants in my locals where I live here, is that in Hong Kong they have these women who push trolleys around with food on it, and you basically take what you want and then they stamp your order. You can order things too, but generally most of the food comes to you!

HOT POT - A hot pot is where they have a big pot of boiling water on a stove on the table, and you put the ingredients into it to cook it and eat. There is loads of things from veggies, meat, seafood, and lots of sauces. Some places will give you like a half split hot pot, one side for spicy and the other for non spicy. Its messy, has tons of food, and lots of fun!

One of my favorites because its like even more social then usual! Afterwards you can drink the soup too!


SPECIALTIES - This includes foreign foods, fast foods, and specialist places. Hong Kong has tons of non Chinese foods too, its pretty westernized. There are Maccy Ds, Pizza Hut, and KFC here too, but they have their own ones as well. Cafe De Coral is like their own fast food, but for Chinese food! Super cheap, like £3 for duck and rice which in UK is usually like £5!



The famous Pork Buns (on the right) at Tim Ho Wan at Central! So famous that it got some Michelin Stars for it! We had to queue up for a white to get a seat, and they were great!
Shanghai Food! - Sweet and Sour Soup, Corn Chicken and some Pickled Veggies!
Top left one of my favorites, Dumplings with Soup inside of it! 
One of my favorite places I went to was in the new Hysan Place Mall (yes, they feel like they don't have enough malls) Food Court in Causeway Bay. Its a Japanese fast food brand for steak! Cant believe the price, how fast it was and how amazing the steak was! You get it kinda raw, but still cooking on your hot grill thing, then you mix it all up with some rice and sauce when it cooked enough for you.

Pick yo' Steak at Pepper Lunch!
Let it cook to how you like it... This was about £8!
Nomomomomomomomom! Delicious! 
And of course, there is the 3rd category, which is actually the most uninteresting... the posh rich food. So I wont go into that! 

Food is great... so how are us Asians not so obese? I reckon one of the biggest reasons is that we drink a lot of tea, and walk a lot because the cities are close together and crowded so you don't need a car to get around. Man... all these #Foodies made me full!

Part 3 coming soon!












Monday, 18 November 2013

My Hongky Kong! Part 1 - Up and Up and Away!

I've actually been back in UK for about 2 weeks now, and in comparison to the previous 2 weeks of that in Seoul and Hong Kong, I can definitely say the pace of my living has slowed down dramatically! Hence, me taking 2 weeks to blog about Hong Kong! Either way, it was a very memorable trip to my mother homeland, a special place in my heart!


EAST MET WEST BACK TO EAST!

I am 100% a city person, I cannot imagine living in the countryside, I would be bored outta my mind. That is one of the reasons why I love Hong Kong so much, its the hustle and bustle, the crazy skyscrapers, the insane crowdedness (ok not a huge fan of that tbh), the busy busy attitude, great food, and funny people!

One of the most interesting things I think about Hong Kong is the western influence it had, and still has to this day. Unlike all the other eastern cities that are imitating the west, Hong Kong literally had the western influence when the British ruled over it before the handover in 1997. What was more interesting to me since returning a few times, was that China had actually hardly touched the city, probably not wanting to interfere with the economy. So things like the Chinese Yuan has not even been implemented, and the Hong Kong Dollar still rules strong.

On top of this, you westerners will be happy to hear that most Honkies speak English. I'm certainly happy about this, considering how bad my Cantonese is... in fact grammatically, I'm still thinking in English which is not good. However, in Hong Kong people actually like to mix it up and throw in some English words in their Cantonese sentences, it seems fashionable or something? Maybe that is the western influence.


If your scared of heights in Hong Kong, your gonna have a problem...
Hong Kong  50% of the population is in some form of public housing. Most people live in tiny flats on high rise buildings, at a subsidized cost. This started in the 1950s when the government's makeshift homes for China's immigrants had a fire which destroyed 50,000 people's houses. Since then huge tower blocks has been built all over Hong Kong, and it has become the norm to go upwards towards the sky for more space. This seems the norm not just in Hong Kong, but all over Asia, where in the West its considered that only the wealthy would be living in high rises.

Livin' on up high, on the 22nd floor! What a view, but don't look down!

View from City Airport Shuttle Train, High tower blocks built even so close to the river.

Hong Kong is split into four territories, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Lantau Island and the New Territories. Hong Kong Island is the southern Island, and Lantau Island is the western Island, which holds the airport and Disneyland. Kowloon and New Territories are connected to China geographically, and are north of Hong Kong island.


Kowloon is considered the poorer area of Hong Kong, but its still hugely popular because of the markets, shops and food! The great transportation in Hong Kong also allows for people to travel around quickly, allowing for the crazy action filled days that they so much love to have, but more of that later...

I mainly hung around the Kowloon area this time, Mong Kok (in Chinese pronounce Wong Kok???) and "TST" (Tsim Sha Tsui), but checked out some "CWB" (Causeway Bay) which is near Wan Chai, a more western bar/club area.

Mad signs all over the high streets in Kowloon...

"Sneakers Street" in Mong Kok area famous for getting some cheap kicks!

Converse and Crocs at Sneaker Street

The street signs light up at night!

MALL MANIA!

No doubt in Hong Kong they love their Malls. They also combine their love of high rises and malls and put them together to create the most insane tall shopping malls! In fact, I've sometimes managed to walk around from one subway station going to a mall, end up at another subway station in another mall... and never actually setting foot outside! 

Even tho Mong Kok is within the "poorer" area, doesn't mean that there isn't any crazy malls! Langnam Place having one of the longest escalators going up to the 15th floor, so high up!




Part 2 coming soon...!






Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Seoul's Got Soul Part 3 - The Wedding


This was a great and interesting experience for me. I hadn't been to a Wedding since my brother's and before that I went to a few as a kid. I didn't really have a clue about the formalities and stuff, especially for Koreans. However, the bride and the groom are "western" Asians, so this wasn't going to be as traditional as a typical Korean wedding would be. Fortunately I was with a friend who knows all that stuff so all I had to do was just follow his lead!

Another "interesting" experience for me is actually dressing up all formal. Like in a suit and all that. Its pretty fun to dress up for an occasion every now and then!

I met up with my friend and we quickly made our way to the wedding. We were running a bit late so we made our way towards the building and asked the security guard for the wedding. "22nd Floor" he said (in Korean) and we made our way up there. In the elevator we met another guest for the wedding. Always a good sign that your going in the right direction!

Wrong! The doors opened and quite impressively my friend knew we were at the wrong wedding! I had a quick look at the bride and groom and sure enough they were not my friends lol. How did we manage to find another wedding going on?

We quickly got back down and asked the guard again, and found out that we were in the wrong building! Wow, it must be like the Wedding Street! The correct location was the building next door!

Now I've been told that this was going to be a secular wedding. Many Koreans are Christians but apparently require some kind of religious "exam" to qualify for a traditional wedding. So what I was told was that secular weddings are very practical and very fast!

We arrived a mere 10 minutes late and the bride and groom were already at the front exchanging their vows! We sat down, and witnessed the vows, a song, speeches from the fathers and bowing to the families... and it was over! Quick as a flash, but no quality lost in tradition or class. It was great to see my friend be so happy!

Wedding Location!

The Wedding is Done!

After the wedding ceremony, there were photos with family and friends. I ended up being pushed unexpectedly right to the middle, behind the bride and groom and made my best attempt at not looking too awkward haha. My friend hadn't even met up the newlyweds before and this was their first time meeting... at the photoshoot! 

Once the photos were done, we made our way to the reception in the other room, where there was a full buffet of food waiting for us. The bride and groom also did another formal ceremony in another room, where they dressed in old traditional formal wear and did more bowing to the families and a tea ceremony. Then after that, they went round the reception to thank all the guests for coming.



AFTERPARTY!

After the buffet we headed over to the after party location. For me this was pretty convenient as it was actually close to where I was staying in Sinsa, which is South-Central Seoul, South of the river. This meant me and my friend could chill there a little bit before we left. We got a little lost (getting a reputation), but it was ok as I knew that the bride and groom were going to be understandably late, as they were having the busiest day of their lives, not only doing all the ceremonial stuff, but also looking after both sets of parents and families.

They had rented out the upstairs of a Korean bar, and there were a lot of drinks!

The After Party Location! With MTV Projected on the Screen too! (??) lol

Drinks!

Afterwards we headed to one of the biggest clubs in Seoul called "Octagon". I guess its shaped like that or something? At this point I'm pretty wasted lol so I don't really remember too much... but I guess that's the point? Anyways, it was a fantastic day and I'm really glad I was able to make it. A few of our friends were unable to attend which was a real shame as it was a lot of fun. Congratulations to the NewlyWeds!



GOODBYE SEOUL!

On my last day in Seoul I ended up chilling out and meeting one of the friends I made at the after party. He had an interesting situation with this trip, a great story for the future! It seemed that we were pretty much the only internationals that were still around, as people had to get back to work. So we ended up finding this specialty Bibimbap place, where you can choose your rice, type of ingredient and sauce. Kind of like a Korean version of Subway for Bibimbap!

Bibimbap is basically rice, meat, some veggies, and some spicy bbq kinda type sauce in a [still hot, sizzling] stone pot. You mix up the ingredients thoroughly and eat!

It was really good reminiscing over the night before. I'm really thankful actually that I didn't have to rush off like everyone else and got a chance to relax a little. My next stop was going to be Hong Kong, and my friend here was going to be there next week too, so we made arrangements to meet up there too.

One of the things that I've noticed about Seoul this time was how much more the plastic surgery adverts have come up. It could just be the location I was currently in, but it kinda shocked me how openly aggressive they advertised it. Even in the west, I don't think this would be as aggressively advertised. 

All of these adverts for plastic surgery at Sinsa Station... all on the same E


I took the very convenient shuttle coach back to the airport. I kinda found it hard to find at first, but asked a hotel and they directed me to the right stop. Its always a great idea to ask hotels for help in other countries, they are almost guaranteed to speak English and should have the information your looking for. The trip is like 45 minutes, and has some pretty amazing views of the city and some interesting red sand dunes. Don't really know why its red lol


I had a great time in Seoul, this was my 3rd time and hopefully not the last! Of course going places its always gonna be better when you know people living there. Next stop Hong Kong! My motherland...



Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Seoul Got Soul! Part 2 - Food and Drink!


The next day I managed to meet up with my friend who is the bride of the Wedding! We'd been friends for ages and I had met her in London. It was really good to catch up and get some Korean BBQ. I didn't think that she'd be able to hang out with me before the wedding, since she would be understandably busy juggling the planning of it, as well as looking after both in laws (gulp!). So good to see her!

Afterwards we grabbed a coffee and had a special ice cream on the way there. This brand is very popular, called "SoftTree" I think? Its near Sinsa Dong Garosugil district, which recently has been becoming a more trendy area to hang out. Its like a very buttery rich tasting Ice Cream, quite different to what I had expected, and to top it off they put a piece of real honeycomb to it! So nice... but like my friend says, its probably too rich to be able to eat a lot of!

Buttery Ice Cream with Real Honeycomb! Wow
Later on that night we met up for a meal at some "interesting" American/Korean fusion. There was like fruit pizza (not bad!) and mini burrito things! It was also a pretty cool time to check out Gangnam area once more!

High Street Near Gangnam Station
Most of Seoul incorporates an American grid system where Metro Stations are within the high streets, and then they have more back street areas. What amazes me is the fact that in most streets, there will be the similar, if not the same type of restaurants, like Korean BBQ, or Broth Soup or like Fusions, and yet they all seem to survive despite rivals being right all over the street. I guess it just shows the demand of food that Koreans, old and young enjoy to let all these businesses seemingly thrive equally.




After dinner we went to a pretty well known Shisha Bar called Rainbow. Pretty hippy, but fun! 

View from Balcony Area which we decided to take at the back of the room!

Front of Rainbow, please take off your shoes and put them in these random cloud decorated bags!

Shisha Anyone? Might regret this picture because my mom will see this! =D

One of strange things that has happened to me is that I seemed to have made more Korean friends then Chinese (I'm Chinese btw lol). So visiting Seoul was a great chance to catch up with some more friends that I had met in London during my Uni Days.

We met up in Itaewon, what is now a more trendy area, but known mainly for the fact that it is a more "international" area where foreigners hang out. This is because the American Army Base is held here, and so the area adapted more to it. 

We ate a more "expensive" Korean BBQ this time, but the place specializing more in steak! It was really good... and interestingly enough it was the place which my friend used to live in before they left and it got renovated. Not a lot of people can say that they're not disappointed with the outcome of a place they get kicked out of!

Best Korean BBQ Yet!

Makgeolli is like a Korean Rice Wine type drink, which is slightly sweet. Its pretty good! There serving in a bowl is like traditional way of drinking it, and as traditions go, the youngest usually serve the oldest. Notice also that there are pretzels in the other bowls, its pretty typical for Korean Bars to provide [unlimited] snacks and pickles to their customers to help them not get drunk so fast!

My Makgeolli!
Cheers! or "Geonbae!"

My friend is very nostalgic about London, so he decided to take us to his favorite "Pub" attempt and being English! Not bad... but just way too clean to pull it off in my opinion! However, it did get a very local English drunk guy talking to us randomly afterwards which I'm sure he appreciated! =D

London Pride In Itaewon!
Some very random beers that I've never heard of!

Part 3 soon!!


Thursday, 24 October 2013

Seoul Got Soul! Part 1 - GSL!

So if you hadn't realised in my previous posts (or maybe I hadn't posted it, I cant remember), I had decided to take 2 weeks off for some travelling i.e catching up with some old good friends. The plans is to go to Seoul, Korea for one week and Hong Kong for the other.

This wasn't a random decision thought, it was actually because one of my best friends was getting married, and had invited me to her wedding. Back in my London days, we had a pretty awesome super chilled, procrastinating, bad influence on each other kinda group. So when she invited me I didn't think twice about it, and also thought that I might as well go to Hong Kong as well whilst I'm "in the area".

So right now I'm blogging in Hong Kong, I arrived last night. The flight from Seoul to Hong Kong is only like 3 hours but I was pretty shattered. Apart from the fact I had to sit next to a kid (bad beat) on the plane, it was an ok flight.... although I did start watching an 18 cert movie then things kinda got awkward so stopped. I'm pretty surprised they had 18s!


HELLO (aka Anyong) SEOUL!

I arrived in Seoul after a faster then expected journey of 10 hours in the plane. Apparently they have a faster route now where they fly over Russia instead of nearer the equator over India and China. 
With quite a lot of "plane" experience (I was gonna type in flying experience but that makes it sound like I'm flying the plane lol), I came super prepared;
  • Macbook Air fully charged stocked up on Movies and a whole season of Seinfeld.
  • iPhone 5 with plenty of games ready to be played.
  • A pre-charger thing so that I can top up my phone battery life if needed.
  • iBooks that could be a good read on my phone.
  • Updated music playlists
That being said, Korean Air is pretty good and even had USB slots at the back of the chair which I thought was a great idea. Other airlines should pay attention! Cant be that hard to install eh? There was even a plug underneath my seat (which I didn't even use in the end), which seems to be unheard of in economy seats.



This is my 3rd time in Seoul so by now I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Arriving in a country you've never been before can be kinda scary. But since I've been here a few times I kinda knew what to do. Usually the best thing to do is to ask anyways, especially at the airport they will have people that speak English.

First thing I did after coming out was to get a phone. A phone? Yes... a phone! I have absolutely no idea why other airports around the world don't do this, but as far as I know Korea is the only place that I have ever seen an airport mobile phone rental contract. The phone charged me 3000 won per day ($3 or £1.75) and of course there are local/international call prices added on. However, if you lose or damage the phone you will be charged like £200, so be careful with it!

After getting the phone, I asked the info desk about which bus to take. You can take the train to Seoul but its actually cheaper and more convenient to take their shuttle buses. This is because there are quite a few of them and a lot of them can take you right to where your place of stay is. The 45 min drive (depending on traffic) on a pretty nice coach cost 15,000 won (£8) and mine was the first stop.

I had booked a hostel place on expedia, and it wasn't the typical studenty style hostels I've been to before. This was an apartment with multiple rooms and each room had en suite shower too. My room was kinda small, the bed took up half of it, but I didn't mind at all, considering I wasn't really going to be there that much anyways.

Despite the non troublesome flight, I had actually barely had any sleep at all. Unfortunately by the time I had got to my room and everything it was 6pm... I had to stay awake otherwise my sleeping would be completely fucked. So I had an idea...


THIS IS GSL!


GSL is Global Starcraft League, and if you have been following this blog you should realise that I absolutely love Starcraft!



Koreans are the best players in Starcraft and since this league started in 2010. There have been no less then 20 tournaments run and since the invention of online streaming its popularity as soured. What is great about the GSL is that its free to go in and watch Starcraft games! So with some hours to kill I looked up where it was and headed down!

After walking waaaay too many blocks then I should have I got there. I actually got off a stop too early thinking that it was Samseung but it was Seoulleung. So confusing! Not only are nearly all the names similar but look at what the metro map is like!

Craziest, scariest tube map ever!

Anyways I finally got there and was able to see one game only lol! Better then nothing eh? It was a Terran vs Zerg match, Fantasy vs Sleep! Haha I just realised that I really needed sleep during that period... wow. Anyways the Terran won and qualified for the next season. In the GSL they have like the premier league and the challenger league, kinda like in sports when there are promotions and relegations.
There wasn't that many people there that night, but it was still pretty cool to see. I didn't manage to catch the casters Khaldor and Wolf that night unfortunately as they ran off quite quickly afterwards.
The main room kinda looks like a theatre room, its all black and has black curtains behind. There is one big screen in the middle showing the stream, inbetween the two booths where the players are. The audience sits in the middle of the room, and there are two flatscreen monitors on the sides too. At the back of the room are two camera cranes, and behind that is a balcony where the casters sit, but facing backwards!


The Plainest Most Uninteresting Entrance Ever!


Front Desk

GSL Room!

From Another Angle

Panoramic View of Whole Room


Entrance to the GSL Room


Banners of Sponsors on the Sides

Hall of Fame with All GSL Winners since 2010!


Fantasy Wins and gets into Premier League! What a Match!

Part 2 coming up soon...



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