A conversation with Poker enthusiast Christine Hia

At the ongoing WPT Korea, Somuchpoker met Christine Hia – a familiar face from the Asian Poker community. This poker passionate has been travelling for the past few years to fulfill her love for the game. She spent a few minutes with us to talk about her recent success in Australia as well as the latest news from her poker journey.

Christine Hia WPT
Christine Hia – WPT Korea 2018

Somuchpoker: Hello Christine! We are chatting with you during the break of the 2nd Super High Roller event of the WPT Korea. You usually play lower stake events, so is this a one-time thing or something that you want to do more often?

Christine Hia: The decision to play this event was definitely a very spontaneous one. My cousin and her husband are here too so we’ve been doing very touristy things instead of playing poker. I had no plans to play in the tournament at all but my friends who were playing convinced me to join the party.

SMP: You are just back from a successful trip in Australia for the Sydney Poker Championships, where you claimed victory in the Ladies event, made Final Table in the PLO, as well as cashed in the Main Event. In December 2016, you also won two WSOP Circuit rings at the same venue – The Star Sydney.  What is so special between you and Australia?

C.H: I always get good vibes at The Star poker room, probably because I get along very well with both the staff and the players. You will see me back there again soon as I’ve already booked my flights and accommodation for the WSOP Sydney in December.

SMP: Unlike many other players your focus is not on No Limit Hold’em. You have been very vocal about your enthusiasm for Pot Limit Omaha. What do you like so much about this game?

C.H: I find PLO way more exciting than NLH. I love the fact that you can play with (almost) any four cards, and don’t have to wait for premium hands like with Hold’em to get involved pre-flop. It’s a post-flop game where premiums aren’t a guaranteed win and I enjoy forcing people to make tough decisions on turns and rivers.

SMP: What about Open Face Chinese poker? This game is gaining popularity in Asia and you also seem to be very enthusiastic about it.

C.H: Yes I love it as well because it’s a lot of fun, but I play mostly with friends online on a phone app. One thing to be careful of is that it can be very painful when you run bad because there’s no option to fold a poor hand and you have to see it through all the way to the end.

SMP: You made a long post on your Facebook blog about an experience in Vegas, where some player pushed you to reload in an OFC game even though you clearly stated that you would only play “Table Stakes”. Can you tell us again what happened exactly?

C.H: I sat down at an OFC table at the Rio. They were playing $10 a point and before we even started I made it very clear to the other two guys that I would only play table stakes (only the money on the table is in play) to which they agreed. The alternative would have been that we play ‘out of pocket’ meaning you could lose more than you have on the table if your opponent has a big hand.

After only a few hands in my initial buy-in was almost depleted when one of them was entering Fantasy (which is a huge advantage over the other players), and he insisted that I pull out more money to put on the table. He said if I didn’t do this, I would be labelled a cheater and that my reputation would be ruined. This was very unethical of him because I had made it clear before playing that I was playing table stakes and they had both agreed. He was angle shooting to get essentially free money out of me by pressuring me to reload at a disadvantage when I wasn’t obligated to. If I would have been the one going into Fantasy with a short stack (meaning I couldn’t win much) I highly doubt he would have begged me to top up and win more than I was entitled to.

When I told them I would walk away from the table after the hand was over, this guy realized the fish was leaving and completely changed his attitude and tried to sweet-talk me into staying. It didn’t work. I think the message to take away from this is that you need to be careful when playing with people you don’t know and that you shouldn’t be afraid to walk away from a game if there are players trying to take advantage of you.

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Christine Hia – Sydney Championships Event

SMP: A lot of ladies have expressed that it can be hard for them to evolve in the poker world which is a male-dominated environment. Do you share the same view? What would you like to say to women who are interested in entering the live poker scene for the first time?

C.H: Personally, I usually have a good time at the poker table. If there’s anyone who acts rude to me or oversteps the boundaries I’ll just keep my distance or ask the poker manager to do something about it. So far I haven’t encountered anything really bad. Maybe it is because I’m playing mainly PLO these days and I find the PLO players to be a happier bunch in general than NLH players. Must be something about those four cards!

To the ladies out there who want to enter the live poker scene, I’d say go for it. It’s can be a very enjoyable experience more often than not.

If you want a peek at my poker life, you can find me on Facebook @Chrissyhia.

SMP: Some people associate poker with gambling. Furthermore, you are from Malaysia where poker is very much restricted and players are often stigmatized. Did that affect you personally when you started pursuing your passion?

C.H: Yes, I do have some friends and relatives who frown upon me for always being in the casino, doing what they think is gambling. It used to affect me when I first started out, for example I couldn’t tell people about what I was doing, or that I was going to Australia or Macau to play poker. It was really hard. But after a while I realized I shouldn’t care about what people think anymore because this is my life. I enjoy the game and know that if you take it seriously it is not gambling because you can use your skills and experience to make better decisions than your opponents, which will win you money.

SMP: Thank you Christine and we wish you good luck!