It feels like just last week I was playing the 2015 PCA and now here we are one week out from the 2016 PCA. I am on the plane now leaving a small town in Brazil with my fiancé on our way to St. Thomas to visit one of my closest friends Bill (Perkins). We will celebrate New Years Eve at Yost Van Dyke Island before we fly to Nassau for the PokerStars PCA tournament series.
Time really does fly and this year I didn’t think 2015 could be as hectic as 2014, but it was! I took 101 flights in 2014 and this year was no different, making 103 voyages this year! I wanted to look back and review some of the highlight trips and places that I would recommend. I am declaring to be the top streamer on twitch poker in 2016. With that being said, I will most likely travel significantly less and stay outside of the USA to play on PokerStars (Brazil, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica is what I am planning on).
2015 kicked off with spending New Years Eve in Brazil where I spent the holidays with Emilia and her family, who was at the time my girlfriend, and is now my fiancé. She is 100% Brazilian and made the trip very comfortable for me! It was my first time to Brazil and South America for that matter. I had an amazing time and have been back four times now. We already have a place rented in August 2016 to watch Phelps swim at the Olympics in Rio.
The last two Olympics that I went to in Beijing and London were amazing experiences and I’m looking forward to this one very much as well! There is no way to mention all the places I went to this year so I will try to hit the major highlights. From Brazil we went to the PCA.
This was the first “poker trip” Emilia and I shared together and it went well. We had a nice balance of me playing poker and also getting to hang out, which is very important to both of us. From there, we hit St. Thomas and the BVI’s as well as stopping in Baltimore, Vegas, Austin, Houston (alot of Houston trips because of the weekly cash game) and closed out the month at Sun Dance in Park City where we stayed with some good friends.
In February, I played the Niagara Falls WPT and made it back home to see the parents, as well as, a couple Houston trips, NYC and LA for the LAPC. In March, we took the least amount of trips, with just six flights and a stop in Brazil, where we would go to several different cities, including the beautiful Trancoso, which I would highly recommend as a couples retreat. April would be spent bouncing around the USA with four stops in Houston, Baltimore, Vegas, Miami and then closing out the month headed to Montreal for the WPT at the Playground Poker Club.
This was the last tournament before the WSOP; Antonio (Esfandiari) and I both agree this is our favorite poker room to play in the world and we make this trip to Playground 3-4 times every year. I had a good run finishing in 13th place coming up just short of another final table in their WPT event. I have taken 3rd out of 1170 players in November 2012, and then the following years finished 2nd in the Party Poker Premier League VII.
I still haven’t won a major tournament, but every time I sit down to play there it feels like it is going to happen for me! After this I would visit a friend in Ottawa by taking the train, head home to see the parents in Ann Arbor, MI, hit Houston for the weekly game, sneak to Miami for two days, then to La where I would meet up with Antonio, before embarking on an epic trip to unchartered waters.
We were headed to Istanbul, Turkey! I heard really great things, but was nervous about some terrorism stuff going on over there and possibly sticking out like a sore thumb! Antonio convinced me I would be okay and that was that! Here we would explore the city, as well as play in some pretty sick poker games at these incredible homes. There are some great stories, but that is for a separate article!
We also went and played at the beautiful Merrit casino in Cyprus on this trip. Before moving on let me just say that Istanbul may be the city tat to this day stands out for me. I highly recommend it and you just have to see it for yourself. After Istanbul we returned to Vegas just before the 2015 WSOP kicked off. The timing was pretty amazing because in March I bought my first property closing on a Panorama unit, where so many of my friends live.
I had it gutted and worked on while I was gone and when I returned, it was just about ready to move into! I was very happy and Emilia and I would remain here for the whole summer. The only time I left was on the 30th of June to go for my best friend’s 30th birthday in Colorado Springs (Micahel Phelps). I had just final tabled and finished 6th in the WSOP $2,500 event and was a great week. Emilia was off to Barcelona with her entire family, so I spent the last two weeks alone in Vegas.
The summer would end with two big sweats as Brian Rast, who is one of my closest friends, would win the Aria Super High Roller for $7,500,000 (he was the only player I bought a piece of) and then even more exciting, Thomas Cannuli, who I bought a piece of, made the November Nine! I remember Tommy literally being paid out, then I got squared away, and hopped on a plane to Barcelona to meet Emilia on July 17 just in time for her Birthday. It was quite the end to the summer ☺.
This also was where I would ask her parents secretly with the help of her twin sister, translating for me permission to marry her, and they said yes! I had a surprise for Emilia and we were off to Tokyo to meet Bill (Perkins) and his family. As we connected through London, we encountered a problem. Emilia needed a Visa being from Brazil to go to Japan, which I had overlooked since you do not need one being from America.
We made the best of it and ended up staying in London and checking out a cool place called Bath, as well as going to the famous Stone Henge. We then decided to make an adventure out of it and would go to Prague where we had never been before, and then ended up meeting Bill in Tel Aviv, Israel!
This was incredible getting to see Jerusalem and we even made a day trip over to Petra, Jordan. This was probably a little bit dangerous looking back on it, but very happy we went. I am going to break this up into two articles as this is long already and there is still some more fun adventures and I’m enjoying doing a recap which is helping me remember everything as well. Check out the rest of my year in part 2 as this is only up until the end of July! A great way to keep up with my adventures is on Instagram. My name on there is JeffGrossPoker.