First-Hand Hands: Xuan Liu vs. Mariano Grandoli - Poker at the Lodge

Xuan Liu plays against Mariano at The Lodge
Craig Tapscott
Posted on: March 31, 2024 01:15 PDT

This hand occurred at the 2024 Poker at the Lodge streamed cash game on February 18 at the Lodge Card Club in Round Rock, Texas.

At the table sat Lodge Card Club co-owner and 3x WSOP bracelet winner Doug Polk, as well as regulars Alex, Tito, and Bulldog. Also in the game were high-stakes cash regulars Mariano and Xuan Liu.

This hand was a faceoff between fan favorite Xuan Liu and the always entertaining Mariano, who is no stranger to big pots and over-the-top aggression.

The blinds were $25/$50 with a $50 big blind ante. Xuan was sitting on a stack of $55,700, and Mariano’s stack weighed in at $161,850. In the video below, Liu talks through the hand play-by-play, providing exclusive insight into the thought process of a seasoned tournament and cash game pro.

WPT bankroll challenge

Liu, an ambassador for the World Poker Tour and WPT Global, accepted a bankroll challenge last fall that would test her patience and endurance after the biggest downswing of her life over the previous year.

She was to travel across Canada’s unforgiving arctic chill and play online or live poker in every province. But there was a big catch; she would begin with a mere $2,000. The long-time pro had to play poker and pay all traveling expenses from that limited bankroll, including hotels and food, until the challenge was completed, win or lose.

“It was tough, but I loved traveling across Canada,” shared Liu, “When I finally arrived in Yukon, seeing the Northern Lights was one of my bucket list items. While waiting for the lights, I came in second in an online MTT. Right after that, I had my biggest score after struggling and barely treading water with my expenses. I won $4,000 those few days and would breeze through the rest of the challenge.”

What does the future hold for Liu?

Over the years, Liu’s bread and butter has been competing on the tournament circuit ($2,050,000 in career earnings) and high-stakes NL cash games mixed in when feasible.

Looking ahead, Liu wants to put the tournament grind in the rearview and plans to create more YouTube poker content and inspire more young women to learn the game.

“I enjoyed the grind when I was young,” lamented Liu, “but honestly, I don't love sitting at the poker table for too long these days. I’d much rather pursue content opportunities or speaking engagements like my recent visit to the MIT Poker Club. I want to do more stuff that inspires me and also inspires others. That’s my plan for the foreseeable future.”

You can follow Xuan Liu on Twitter/X.