Q&A with Evelyn Ng

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You have a ton of nicknames! They call you Queen of the WPT …

They do?

Well, that’s what I’ve seen online. … Ms. Champagne.

The champagne nickname … I actually tried to clear up recently in some interviews. It’s not even my nickname. It’s kind of a joke my ex-boyfriend Adam Schoenfeld used to make. … There used to be a singer from the ’70s named Evelyn Champagne King … so he would call me Evelyn Champagne Ng. (laughs) And he said that in a World Poker Tour interview and it got printed on Wikipedia. … And now people just call me Champagne, but it’s not just Champagne, it’s Evelyn Champagne Ng or nothing. (laughs)

OK, so we’re setting the record straight today then. A lot of people call you Evybabee and EeeVee …

A lot of Brits call me EeeVee because that’s how they pronounce it, but it’s just Evy (short for Evelyn).

That’s what I thought because with a nickname like EV you’d want to stay positive all the time, right? Because otherwise you’d be “Negative EV” and that’s not good for a poker player.

(Laughs) That’s cute.

You know our magazine is based in Florida, and a little while ago you came here for the Pros vs. Joes tournament at One-Eyed Jacks. How did that come about and what did you think of Florida players.

My friend Karina Jett actually hooked me up with that tournament and the people in Florida were fantastic. Everyone was so nice. There were a lot of fans there; everyone was really friendly and I had a fun time there.

And what did you think of the room there at One-Eyed Jacks?

I thought it was a great room. It was very comfortable; it felt almost like a home atmosphere like everyone was friendly with each other, everyone knew each other. And I really liked that it was a real poker community there.

Obviously traveling the world playing poker tournaments is nothing new to you. I hear you had a lot of time to see the Philippines … do you want to explain that for me?

There was a tournament, the first Asian Poker Tour stopped in Manila. It was my first time there and I had a really fun time.

And how’d you do over there?

I only played the main event there … and I actually busted out in 10 minutes (laughs) so I didn’t really get to enjoy the Manila poker scene too much.

So you flew like 18 hours or whatever and only got to play … oh my God!

Yeah, but we already had been there for a few days so it wasn’t so bad. You know like when you bust out of a tournament in, say, Tunica, Mississippi, you’re in TUNICA, MISSISSIPPI (laughs) but, when you bust out in Manila at least you’re in some exotic location.

I interviewed Justin Bonomo recently, and when he signed with Bodog the CEO said “Justin lives and breathes the Bodog lifestyle. Now back in 2006 they used those EXACT same words when they signed you. What is up with that?

(Laughs) Well I think Bodog is a really hip company and the people that represent Team Bodog – Justin, myself, David Williams and Jean-Robert (Bellande) – I think we all kind of have that lifestyle. And I think that’s perhaps the reason they chose us for the team. I think we’re all super lucky and super thrilled to be on the coolest, hippest team in poker (laughs).

So explain to me what that means for you, “the lifestyle of a Bodog player.”

The Bodog lifestyle I guess is what the quote is (laughs) … I’m not sure. We all kind of have our poker side of our lives but we all other interests. We all enjoy nightlife, the finer things maybe, but we’re also big poker nerds at heart (laughs).

What’s it like being the only female star in the Bodog constellation?

I really like it. The Bodog standard for females is up there so I guess it’s a compliment to me.

I read an article recently about Jennicide (Jennifer Leigh) where she posed nude for Playboy. … and she said she’d love to see you do that.

(Laughs) I have actually talked to her about that. It’s not something that I’ve ever pursued or really even entertained the idea very much, but I wouldn’t say that I wouldn’t ever, never do it. But it’s not something that I’ve ever dreamed of.

Were you taken aback by her saying that in the article or were you fine with that?

No, it was a compliment and I’m friends with Jennicide. … It’s like something she’s always wanted to do, so for her to say that, for me, it just shows that she thinks highly of me I guess.

I used to consider myself a pretty good Guitar Hero player until I saw you play. (At this point she laughs, perhaps at me) What is the deal? You are awesome at that game.

(Laughs again) Well, I feel like that game was seriously made specifically for me. (Laughs) ’Cause I always secretly wanted to be some kind of musician or music producer, or do something musically, which I never really followed through with. I had some lessons when I was a child for piano, but I never really stuck with anything. So I guess Guitar Hero is my way of living out my Rock ’n’ Roll fantasy I guess (laughs).

Have you played the Aerosmith version yet?

Yeah I have Aerosmith but I haven’t gotten a lot of time to play it because of the World Series.

I hear there’s a Metallica version on the horizon.

Yeah, that would be really cool. I mean, if anything, that’s the one band that all Guitar Heroes love.

If you could have any song made for Guitar Hero what would it be?

Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne.

From one video game to another, what was it like being immortalized in Daniel Negreanu’s game, Stacked?

That’s just the coolest thing ever because I am such a video game nerd. (laughs) To be in a video game that’s just like the epitome of cool for a big gamer nerd like me.

It’s like the mothership calling you home.
(Laughs) Yeah, if they ever made a Guitar Hero or Rockband character after me I could die happy.

I’ve seen your avatar and it doesn’t look anything like you.

In the Stacked game I think it looks exactly like me.

Really?

In the World Poker Tour game it doesn’t look like me. (laughs)

Oh, OK. What was that process like? Did you have to do anything or did they just take it from a photo?

They took a LOT of photos. (laughs) It wasn’t just one. They put sensors on me. They took a lot of photos of different perspectives and different positions.

Would you ever have dreamed growing up in Canada that this would be your life, becoming a video game star and poker star?

Totally not, because when I started playing poker it was like very fringe. It was not something that was so commonly accepted. I remember I went to my ex-boyfriend’s Harvard reunion … and there were all these magistrates and nobleman (laughs) doctors and lawyers … and they would ask me what I did, I would tell them I was a professional poker player and 95 percent of them would have nothing to say and they would just turn and talk to the next person. (laughs) And if I went to that Harvard reunion now they would all say “Oh, do you know Johnny Chan? Do you know Howard Lederer?” So now it’s pretty surreal how accepted and how huge poker is now. It’s definitely really cool for people who have been in the game for so long.

Speaking of when you first learned how to play poker and Daniel, his book is finally out and I had a chance to read your chapter. Did you feel like there was a lot of pressure knowing your chapter would appear first in the book?

Um, I didn’t know that (laughs). But there was a little bit of pressure just because it’s Daniel Negreanu’s book and knowing that people are going to expect to have the high caliber of knowledge and insight that Daniel has shown us over the years. So I guess there was that pressure to live up to it.

It was his system that you sort of embellished on. … could you hear him in your ear as you were writing it?

Yeah, Daniel’s voice is so strong. … when you read his blogs and his articles … you definitely here Daniel’s voice and character come through in his writing, and so yeah I guess I always have that voice in my head. ’Cause I’ve known him for so long. (laughs)

It’s a pretty good time to be friends with Daniel, huh?

Yeah, I mean I’ve known him for half my life so (laughs) I’m used to it I guess.

If you could put in a good word for me I’d appreciate it. (Laughs)