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Saint Louis to Jerusalem & a New Role at Stars April 24, 2014

Posted by Administrator in : chess,feminism,poker,travel , add a comment

I have a new role at PokerStars, as their Mind Sports Ambassador, to help promote the connections between chess and poker leading up to the PokerStars Isle of Man International this Fall.

My first official tournament representing PokerStars was the World Series of Poker circuit Main event in Saint Louis (which I did not win). I played in that immediately after a two-week stint giving lectures at the Saint Louis Chess Club and the World Chess Hall of Fame. Brian Jerauld at the Chess Club wrote this sweet piece on my visit and the connections between chess, poker and PokerStars support of chess, including nine years of PokerStars sponsorship of the US Chess League.

Right after Saint Louis, I traveled to Israel, where I am now, playing on the Pokerstars client for the first time since PCA. As lucky as I feel lately, I can’t help but feel a twinge of regret when playing a limited number of Sundays here. As I soak up so much playing just a few tables at a time, I realize how much stronger a poker player I’d be now if not for Black Friday. Part of me knows it’s futile to predict such things. Maybe I wouldn’t have taken up Open Face Chinese Poker in that case, for which I now do videos on Run It Once. Or maybe I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people, leading to a lot of the opportunities I have now. I certainly wouldn’t have played as much live poker, and I better appreciate some of the specific skills required in that arena.

And yet it still pains my ego to know that I’d understand the game better if not for Black Friday. In the future, I need to schedule more trips to grind online, and focus less on the excitement of live stops. That being said, see you all in Vegas :)

On a positive note, I’ve done a lot of other fun interviews on chess, poker and making both games more popular.

1. I was on one of my favorite poker authors, Jared Tendler’s podcast. We talked about the “Mental Game” in both chess and poker, why Magnus Carlsen has a mental game coach and whether there is tilt in chess.

2. Another podcast I love: Thinking Poker. We talk about everything from Open Face Chinese and why I decided to do training videos on the game, to what little I remember about Comparative Literature.

3. Some questions you just can’t prepare for. In this fun interview with a popular Spanish YouTube chess channel, they asked me if I’d rather play Strip Chess with Magnus Carlsen or Chess Boxing with (the infamous) Borislav Ivanov!

4. I was recently on the Twoplustwo pokercast. The hosts Michael and Adam have such great chemistry. They also just interviewed the first two-time EPT Champion, PokerStars Pro Vicky Coren. It’s exciting that a woman and an accomplished writer is the first to achieve this milestone. I’ve played with Coren a few times and her humor and charm comes out in person just as on the page.

5. I really enjoyed doing this two part interview with Poker News Daily from a few months ago- they did a flattering amount of research into my career.

6. Also a while back, me, Katie Stone & Katie Dozier were interviewed on the Full Tilt Poker blog and by Lee Davy on women in poker.

I was reminded of the last two pieces when reading this controversial piece, quoting Selbst, Stone, Danielle Moon-Anderson, Kara Scott and several other female pros.

Around 80% of the time I have a better time at the tables, because I get more attention as one of few women in the game. 20% of the time my experience may be particularly negative because I’m female. This polarization can apply to a woman’s image at the table- play a hand poorly, you’re probably a whale, pull off a well-timed and calculated bluff, you may be the next Vanessa Selbst.

So overall, it’s a net positive for me, but as a writer, I can’t help but highlight the hilarious examples of poor behavior (as I explain in this Bluff video). Things like this just aren’t quite as funny:


as this

The more involved I become in the poker culture the less my own experiences are relevant to women starting out. More people recognize me at the table and tend to be nicer to me as a result. Poker is a global game, and picking up the game may present very different challenges for women in other situations and countries.

The comment plug in isn’t working here so hit me up on twitter or email. I’ve also been far more active on instagram lately, especially because Jerusalem provides such a photogenic backdrop for sunsets, food porn and selfies.