Poker profiles Poker

Mei : A star at the table

Written by Pai Yao

This article first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of World Gaming magazine.

Ngok Mei (known to everyone as just Mei) doesn’t need poker to kick-start her career. This stunning, intelligent and talented young lady already has an amazing list of career achievements. Nevertheless, she has started making waves at the poker tables with her favorite hobby and WGM was lucky enough to catch up with her during the last Macau Poker Cup.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Mei first started playing the piano at the age of four. Although she excelled in a range of subjects during her school years, it was music that captured her heart and she always hoped her life would head in the direction of the music and entertainment industry. Unlike many, however, she never lost sight of what was important and despite music remaining her passion, she first made sure she completed a Master’s degree in Asia Pacific Business at London University. Clearly Mei is far more than just a pretty face!

After graduation, she immediately set about turning her dream into reality by throwing herself into the music industry.

Her big break came in 2011 when one of Hong Kong’s most respected movie directors, Mr Johnnie To, recognized her unique talents. As a result, a song Mei composed and sang called “Water Flooding the Gold Mountain” became the theme song for To’s hit movie Life Without Principle which screened at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. The movie went on to win multiple awards at home and abroad.

On the back of her newfound success, Mei became hot property in the Chinese music industry and the spotlight quickly turned on her. In just two years she has already claimed a number of awards including “Metro Radio Mandarin Hits Music Awards Presentation – Best Newcomer”, “2011 Metro Radio Hits Music Awards Presentation – Best New Composer Artiste” and “China Mandarin Golden Awards – Best Composer Artiste”. These are some of the most prestigious industry awards in this part of the world and for a newcomer out of Hong Kong to realize this success so quickly is impressive.

Having started to gain a foothold in Hong Kong, Mei’s recording company decided it was time to expand into a much bigger market – Mainland China. She now spends the majority of her time in Mainland China doing promotions and live shows which has created a hectic travel regime between Mainland China and Hong Kong.

The good news is Mei still has time to stop off in Macau on a regular basis to indulge in her favorite hobby – poker tournaments!

World Gaming magazine: Hi Mei and thank you so much for taking a little bit of time to talk to WGM.
Ngok Mei: It’s my pleasure. I read WGM and I have found the poker tips and articles entertaining and helpful to my game.

WGM: Thanks Mei, our goal has always been to entertain and help up and coming players so the appreciation is well received. Can you tell us when you first started playing poker?
Mei: I visited Grand Lisboa for the first time about four years ago and saw the PokerStars room. I was bored of roulette that night, so I decided to give poker a try and found it extremely exciting.

WGM: Where do you play most of your poker?
Mei: Before I tried playing tournaments, I played cash games at Wynn Macau and the old PokerStars room at the Grand Lisboa. Right now, I almost only play tournaments so it depends where the tournaments are held. I enjoy playing tournaments at the PokerStars LIVE room at City of Dreams (COD). The atmosphere is great and I run pretty good there. I cashed in quite a few events at the previous APPT Macau, including 17th in the Main Event. This made me very happy and I felt my game was starting to really improve.

WGM: Have you ever played outside of Macau?
Mei: I went for a holiday in Europe earlier this year and while in Venice I participated in WPT Venice. I played really well and ran deep in the WPT Venice National Main Event, but busted near the bubble!

WGM: What would you say is your most memorable poker moment?
Mei: David Steicke held a birthday freeroll for ladies at his 50th birthday celebrations and I won! The prize included a seat to the HK$4,000 ACOP Ladies Event. In this event I went on to finish in second place. Professionally it was a really busy time for me during that period and even though I hadn’t spent lots of hours at the tables it was excellent that I could still focus and play well.

WGM: Do you have any poker heroes or players you admire?
Mei: I like Tom Dwan’s style of poker. He is very aggressive and plays on the edge. I find that kind of poker exciting. I also play in some home games with some experienced players who share strategies with me. They know who they are and I thank them for their time and patience.

WGM: I have to ask. What’s it like for an attractive superstar playing against the boys all the time?
Mei: (laughing) The guys who play against me are always shocked the first time I check raise them. Get used to it guys!

WGM: What do you want to achieve in poker?
Mei: I have never really set a target in regards to poker. It is my biggest hobby so I am always very happy just to find the time to play. Like any tournament poker player I want to win any tournament I play in. I think this is the right mindset.

WGM: If you could play in any tournament in the world, what would it be?
Mei: With my commitment to my work, I am happy playing tournaments in Macau at the moment. It is easier to manage my time that way, but you never know what the future holds.

WGM: Aside from music, what are you interests away from the poker table?
Mei: I enjoy travelling, sailing and high tea with my girlfriends. I love the sea. Nothing beats a beach resort vacation.

WGM: Mei it has been great having a chat with you and we suspect there are many more victories coming your way. Good luck with your music and good luck at the tables.
Mei: Thanks WGM, it’s my pleasure!