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New Poker Rule: Queens Outrank Kings April 23, 2010

Posted by Jennifer in : feminism,poker , 3 comments

Women have won two major mixed poker titles in a row, which should be a boon to attracting more women to the male dominated game. Vanessa Selbst won the North American Poker Tour Mohegan Sun event, good for a $750,000 cash. Meanwhile, Liv Boeree won EPT San Remo for €1.25 million. I watched the San Remo final three on the live webcast and Liv’s staredowns were incredible. Freeze frame from one to the left. I rarely stare at people intentionally in poker or in life, but this got me wondering if I should start.

Vanessa Selbst’s blog entry on NAPT with her hand analysis was great, the kind of thing that inspires me to improve in poker. I also listened to an interview with Vanessa on pokercast where she talked about how important it was for her to be a role model to young girls, who rarely see openly gay figures in the media–great thing to say. I voted for Selbst to make it into the WSOP tournament of champions event and will definitely be checking her blog out regularly, in spite of gray text on black background.

I played next to Vanessa Selbst in the 2007 Ladies World Series of Poker–we had just broke down to the final two tables, I was super-short and she was seated to my left. I was not happy about having to shove with almost any two into her monstrous stack but met an even worse fate getting all my money in preflop a few hands later. I had AQo in the Big Blind against JJ (who raised two off the button) and AA (who re-raised in the Small Blind). The woman with aces was upset that JJ sucked out on the river to knock her out, and had some nasty words about my play. I remember being consoled by the fact that Selbst said I was right to go in (assuming I lacked major reads on the first two raisers).

Liv, the ultimate modern Renaissance woman, seems to have enthralled the entire 2+2 community. Well you gotta be either enamored or intimidated by an astrophysicist/guitar-playing/model/journalist/poker champion. Seems made up right? Check out the following clip of Liv interviewing Ron Jeremy, which shows that she thinks a level ahead of the porn star– in his own game:

Finish What You Start: My last shot at Monte Carlo & Checkmating Violence April 19, 2010

Posted by Jennifer in : chess,poker , 2 comments

This weekend I gave a simultaneous exhibition at a 24-hour “Checkmate Violence” marathon, organized by After School Activities Partnerships and sponsored by PECO. It was a 20-board clock simul where I had 45 minutes for all the games, and my opponents had 25 minutes. Very tough to win 20 games in 45 minutes, but I was happy with my final tally of 15:5. I certainly got a great cardio workout, completely canceling out my decadent Friday hoagie and mozzarella sticks dinner :)

It was also interesting to watch Mayor Nutter play chess against a 9-year-old girl from the program. Normally when political figures offer to speak at a chess event, they only make the ceremonial first move. But Nutter took it very seriously and ended up playing the entire game, which lasted 45 minutes. His aides, who were impatiently watching said it felt like it took 4.5 hours. See the full story in the Philadelphia Inquirer and look for some moves from the actual game on my CLO blog.

In another example of finishing what you start, I played the last chance €215 Ladies Luxury Poker Club Monte Carlo direct qualifier. I was seriously considering not playing because it may be hard to get to Europe in the new few weeks due to the volcano. But it just felt wrong to play so well in the first six and reject my final shot especially since I’d won a super-sat into it. Also I want to support stars’ efforts to promote women’s poker and it’s hard to find a $300 online tournament with such good value.

In the start of the tourney, I felt a little distracted and call-ey. But during the middle and end, patience, math and some luck ( I got kings at a good moment) came to the fore and I final-tabled with an average stack. Two €3500 packages were at stake and there were three consolation prizes for 3rd-5th of €530 Euros (about $700). Sadly I mini-bubbled for 6th (the big bubble is obviously third). The hand I busted on was pretty trivial. I had sixes on the button with a M of 10, was called by the shortest stack in the SB with AJs and lost the showdown, ace on the river :( Lost another showdown for the rest of my meager stack and ended up with the sub-consolation prize of €10 Euros! I did have some interesting hands earlier in the event like this one against the most aggressive player at the table:

I’d bet/fold against a lot of the tight players in ladies events, but against this player, my plan was bet/re-raise all in, since she’s perfectly capable of raising here with air. She did checkraise/fold so it worked out well, but later I wondered if my play was clearly +EV or if I was overestimating her range.

Speaking of aggressive female players, I bought the James McManus tome, Cowboys Full on the history and culture of poker and read two articles on WomanPokerPlayer.com, HeSaid and SheSaid summing up his thoughts on the supposed lack of female ability in No Limit poker tourneys. The main argument is that women are too risk averse for high stakes poker. I find this very oversimplified. Patience and bankroll management are also very important poker skills which women may have more cultural aptitude for. It’s not clear that these are easier to learn than aggression. Often the testosterone pumped men tend to be the worst players of all, garbage raising machines. I think it would be much easier to teach a peaceful woman to push T9o on the SB with a short stack than to teach an egomaniacal dude to fold most hands out of position. The argument that women are ill-suited for NL poker smacks of a foregone conclusion, “women play poker less than men and don’t cash as often,” so let’s explain why that must be the case, ignoring the fact that tons of “aggressive” male players have lost their shirts on poker. Poker is not just about how much you win, but also sadly, about how much you lose. Otherwise, we’d all be rich.

I played a lot of online poker in March and April and felt I learned a lot, but I’ll be taking a break till my yearly WSOP/National Open trip in June to focus on other projects, such as promoting the 2010 US Chess Championships in Saint Louis. The event will feature a 10K guaranteed blitz Open for just a $40-50 entry fee. Hope to see you there!

Double-Bubble and Forgetting to Enjoy the Weather April 12, 2010

Posted by Jennifer in : poker , 3 comments

Time has flown since my last blog update. On the domestic front, I hosted a hummus party and planted my first garden. I’ve also been playing lots of poker, working on some art projects, chairing the 2010 US Chess Championship committee and covering the spring tournament season on CLO (See the Philadelphia Open scoops here.) To be honest, I haven’t been enjoying the season of cherry blossoms and iced coffee nearly enough but at least I’m keeping busy!

I wrote an expanded version of my article on Ladies’ poker tournaments on WomanPokerPlayer.com. Two additions to my original post here were the idea of ladies sats into mixed events (like the World Series of Poker Main Event, which still boasts fewer than 5% females) and the realization that there are effective men’s only games.

I’ve been trying really hard to win a seat on stars to the Ladies Event at EPT Monte Carlo, but so far, it was not meant to be. I played six and got deep twice in the weekly €215 Euro final. One time I lost a three-way where two tickets were at stake. I came up short when the short stacks kept doubling up until I was the short stack. Yesterday I got heads up, amassed a 9:1 chip lead and was just a fleck of luck away from the €3500 tournament package when everything went wrong. I lost three races in a row, and in 20 minutes my dream trip turned into a €530 consolation prize. The life of a semi pro tournament player is brutal.

A positive aspect of these satellites, besides adding to my stars bankroll is the realization that I’m quite good at satellites. Satellite structures play to two of my strengths-endgame math and patience. My edge is greater in sats with at least two spots at stake, because the math is more layered when bubble factors are involved. So I’m planning to start playing in more medium sized satellites. On stars you can use the winnings to play in either the specific tournament they were intended for, or any other event, such as the Sunday Million.

On a brighter note, last week I won a freeroll on WomanPokerPlayer.com, netting me a one-hour private lesson with professional poker player Vanessa Rousso. I don’t have the details yet but I’m guessing it will be a phone lesson. I’ll probably ask her about 3-betting and 4-betting ranges against various styles/bubble factors. I think a lot of equity is at stake in making the right choices in that part of the game and it will be nice to compare her thoughts with those of the online pros I’m friends with. I’m sure the lesson will be interesting so I’ll let you all know how it goes!

Oh by the way, I recently re-uploaded my Fox News Hula chess vid cause it expired on the original site. If you didn’t catch it last autumn, it’s a must watch!
XOXO, Jennifer