2024 Celebrity Poker Tour: Princess Love and Nemo are ready to crush

Adam Hampton
Published by:
Posted on: February 5, 2024 9:43 am EST

Poker is a famously great leveler; generally, if you can afford the buy-in and there’s a seat open, you can mix it with whoever’s in the game. It’s the reason why you – yes, you – can turn up and take on the world’s top players in poker’s most prestigious events.

You know what else is ‘famously great’? The field at the Celebrity Poker Tour (CPT), which returns this Thursday, February 8. But this is one invitational where, sadly, you can’t simply rock up and buy in – not unless you’ve got some serious sway. When players take their seats at the PokerGO Studio, they won’t need to wonder if they’ll have a celebrity at their table – the only faces they’re unlikely to recognize will be the dealers’.

And in the great spirit of poker, once the cards are in the air, it won’t matter who has the most followers, the best agent or the biggest paychecks; it’s all about the game.

So when we got the chance to speak to two celebrities who will be playing on Thursday, we chose two who definitely ‘got game’: chess streamer Qiyu ‘Nemo’ Zhou and TV’s Princess Love.

“I’m very competitive as a person”

Chess Woman Grandmaster Nemo won the previous CPT event, last year’s one-off Enclave Celebrity Poker Invitational, and will certainly be one to watch heading into 2024’s CPT season. We asked her if her chess experience was an advantage when playing cards.

“I’m very competitive as a person,” Nemo tells PokerOrg. “I am more comfortable at the poker table because of playing chess, but not necessarily because of playing chess tournaments.”

We’d assumed that the ability to think strategically would be the greatest asset a chess player could bring with them to the poker table, but Nemo looks at it differently.

“A lot of the time when I’m streaming or playing chess in person, I’m doing it in a very casual environment where I’m chatting with the other person, I’m interacting with the stream. It’s made me super-comfortable being at the poker table, being able to engage with others while also playing the game.”

Poker player Qiyu 'Nemo' Zhou plays a WPT event in 2022
In addition to her celebrity poker win, Qiyu ‘Nemo’ Zhou has cashed in WPT and WSOP events

With the freewheeling, chatty nature of CPT events, that’s definitely going to be a plus. Tanking silently for five minutes is going to be a tough option when the tables are filled with performers and influencers who are there for a fun, action-filled game. And, with a win already under her belt, there’s no one Nemo is afraid of.

“I don’t think there’s anyone I particularly want to avoid, because poker is such a fun game and this tournament is such a fun environment. There is really no point in trying to be, like, ‘No, I don’t want to play against them’.”

The image of the quiet chess club introvert is not one that fits Nemo. “I love these events. I’ve always loved going to chess tournaments to interact with my friends, talk to people, get new perspectives and just socialize, so that’s one of the things that I’m looking forward to at the CPT.”

So if you spot Nemo at the featured table on Thursday, you can expect to see a chatty, competitive player who fears no one. Well, almost no one.

“My friend [and fellow chess streamer] Alex Botez is pretty good, and she’s definitely someone that I’ve always liked playing poker against. I have to be really cautious when playing against her.”

“It’s easier to get away with bluffs against the pros”

Another player looking to enjoy herself at the tables is the star of MTV’s Love & Hip-Hop: Hollywood, Princess Love.

While she doesn’t have a long poker resume, Love obviously has a natural talent for the game, as evidenced by her deep run in the WPT World Championship in December. We asked how that event compared with her experiences of the CPT.

“That was a crazy run for my first Main Event! Playing against the pros is a totally different ballgame. Most of them go by GTO charts, it’s a completely different strategy. I learned how to be patient and pick my spots. It’s also easier to get away with bluffs against the pros.”

Poker player and TV personality Princess Love at the WPT World Championship in 2023
Princess Love has over $250k in tournament winnings since last April

We’re guessing that many of her opponents on Thursday will be more familiar with ‘GTO’ as a type of car than an approach to poker. Love may be downplaying her strategic skills – “All that strategy stuff goes out the window because people are just having a good time,” she tells us – but for our money, she has to be one of the prime candidates to take down the title. She’s even been considering the implications of playing a turbo (again, nothing to do with cars).

“With the turbo structure, you have to play,” she says, sounding more like a hardened poker grinder than an actress, producer and TV personality. “You don’t have a choice. You can’t just sit around and wait for a good hand because the blinds go up so fast. You have to play aggressively and just hope you don’t run into a monster and get knocked out.”

Love will certainly be one player we’ll be watching carefully on February 8, and we’d recommend NFL defensive coach and former linebacker Hayes Pullard also keeps an eye out.

“I’m looking forward to getting my revenge against Hayes Pullard,” Love says, “he knocked me out of the tournament last year. He slowed-played me when he flopped a set and I had top pair.”

With their strategic thinking and people skills, Nemo and Love are two of our prime picks to take the top spot in Thursday’s celeb-packed game. Can they outlast a field packed with names from the worlds of pro sports, entertainment and media?

Let us know what you think on our socials, and don’t forget you can follow all the action when the cards are dealt right here, care of PokerOrg Instant.

Images courtesy of the WPT