If you have been around the world of poker for any length of time, you always wonder “whatever happened to” a few players. In the case of champion poker player Joanne “J. J.” Liu, it is something that sometimes pulls her away from the tables but still challenges her business sense. Liu, it seems, has become a hotelier, buying ownership in a very strategic hotel in Virginia.
Liu Uses Business, Poker Acumen in Decision
In a story on WJHL-TV in Bristol, VA, from reporter Kaylyn Kluck, Liu recounts how she came about deciding on purchasing the hotel.
“Bristol, I think, is paradise,” Liu tells Kluck in the interview. It also is one of the spots in the Appalachians that is considered a hotspot. Bristol is long known as the birthplace of what was originally called “mountain music” that served as the spawning grounds for early country music. It also is home to one of the preeminent racetracks on the NASCAR circuit, Bristol Motor Speedway (technically in Bristol, TN, but just across the border), which has two yearly races that are extremely popular with fans.
It seems it was something else that drew Liu to Bristol and her ownership in a hotel. Recently voters in Bristol approved casino gaming for the area, giving the rights to a casino to the owners of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino empire. Once that establishment is built, the area is expected to be a major drawing card for vacationers, casino fans and poker players looking for action.
Liu saw the opportunity in this. A few miles from the site where the Hard Rock is being built, Liu saw that a small hotel was up for sale. In November 2020, Liu visited the area and found a property that she was interested in, a Comfort Inn close by the proposed Hard Rock. In January, Liu completed the purchase of the Comfort Inn, renamed it the Bristol Arcadia Inn, and has been enjoying life as a hotelier.
Liu was careful to not change too many things about the hotel, preferring to stick with many of the employees of the former Comfort Inn. “A lot of people, they work here 15-20 years at most,” Liu commented to Kluck. “People here are very nice, very loyal. It’s just incredible community.”
Liu Successful On and Off the Felt
Some would say “I haven’t heard of J. J. Liu in years!” It is not because she stopped playing, however.
Liu has been a steady player on the tournament circuit for 25 years, with her first cash at the World Series of Poker in 1996. In 2007, Liu earned her best finish of her poker career in the World Poker Tour’s Bay 101 Shooting Star event in California, earning $600,000 for her runner up finish to Ted Forrest.
In 2014, Liu would once again strike in a major event on the international poker circuit. She would win the Asia Pacific Poker Tour’s High Roller event in Macau to earn a 1,420,000 HKS payday (roughly $183,135 U. S.). Liu has cashed 59 times at the WSOP and 15 times on the WPT circuit, all a part of her career totals of 275 cashes (including five during the WSOP online in 2020 and seven so far in 2021) and over $3.3 million in career earnings (numbers courtesy of The Hendon Mob database).
Now Liu has a nice place to enjoy the summer (Virginia is quite beautiful and cooler that time of the year than Las Vegas!) and, once the Hard Rock construction is complete, you can be assured that the poker room will have a local “shark” ready for action!
(photo courtesy of WJHL-TV)