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Relaxing in Toronto with no NHL

Greetings from Toronto, where I'm spending the holidays this year.

Toronto is kind of like the Bermuda Triangle for me. That is to say, it's a place where I can go and feel like I'm unplugged from responsible life -- like a vacation, but with all the luxuries you have at home. This is where I focus on playing online the most, because there aren't the usual distractions and I can play for longer periods than when I'm on the road.

Toronto is a very European-feeling city, really. And people here are very multicultural and welcoming to foreigners, too. The other day a cashier asked me where I was from, and when I said I was from Holland three other people started asking me questions about Holland. You always hear people say Canadians are among the nicest people in the world, and it's true.

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I'm planning to enjoy the city a little more on this visit, including going to some NBA games. Daniel Negreanu promised to take me to a hockey game as well (but that was before all the games were canceled until at least January 14), which I'm anxious to do because I've never been to one before.

I'm not a big sports bettor, although that can add to the enjoyment especially if you don't have a rooting interest otherwise. Then again, betting on sports can actually make them less enjoyable to watch sometimes, too.

I remember a while back I had this idea to start a sports betting career. Ajax is the home team from Amsterdam, and we were playing Manchester United and there were really good odds on Man. U. So I put down 5K on Manchester and they won. Then I had 10K, and went all in again on another match and was right again. Then came this seemingly easy match to pick -- it was like the #1 team versus the #17 team (out of 18), and I got 2-to-1 odds. It was right before a poker trip and I remember putting the full 20K on the match before leaving.

So I'm at the airport and I'm reading how a player for the #1 team was sent off in the third minute of the game and the other team had scored. Then 10 minutes later my flight's about to leave and I see it's already 3-0. And so my sports betting career was very short-lived, but it was a good lesson, I think. It's really something you can't do just on the side, but you have to know all of the players' injuries and tendencies, the match-ups, the home-away records, and so on in order to succeed.

But betting small for entertainment purposes can be fun. I imagine Daniel might invite me to make a small wager with him if the NHL ever comes back and we ever make it to a hockey game.

Now I'm getting ready to head down to the PCA next week. Here's hoping your holidays have been as similarly relaxing and fun.

Lex Veldhuis is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

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