A former dancer and Starcraft gamer, Vivian Im from Korea is the latest female addition to join the ranks of Team PokerStars Pro. Vivian's first-place finish at the APPT Cebu PHP 100,000 Main Event is her biggest achievement so far, but she has been active on the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) for the last few years and has made several final tables.
PokerStars Women had the opportunity to interview her and find out more about her journey to become a poker pro.
PSW: How does it feel to be chosen as a Team PokerStars Pro? Was it something you had been hoping for?
Vivian: I am very happy and proud to be the first female pro from Korea. I hope that the poker community in Korea grows so that I can participate in the larger events like the European Poker Tour or the World Series of Poker with many other Koreans.
PSW: What tournaments are you concentrating on now and how do you think being a member of Team PokerStars Pro will affect that?
Vivian: I am participating in many of the Sunday tournaments online. Before becoming a Team Pro, I participated in the tournaments mostly through online satellites. But now I get more chances to play, thanks to my pro status.
PSW: What's the most exciting thing you've done since signing?
Vivian: I got the chance to give the starting speech at the Macau Poker Cup in August. It was a very exciting moment and a great honor. Also, whenever I participate at the Macau Poker Cup, I still get a very proud feeling when I see the banners with my picture on them.
PSW: The most difficult?
Vivian: The first tournament I participated after becoming a pro was a challenge. There were so many people watching with high expectations. I felt a lot of pressure and was worried that I wouldn't be able to fill the expectations. It was hard for me to focus on the game, but now I'm getting more used to it.
PSW: What are your observations about playing women's tournaments and do you plan to play any in the near future?
Vivian: I am, of course, planning to play in the women's events. I've only had the chance to play in two so far.
PSW: Do you notice anything different about how women play?
Vivian: Every player has a different style of playing but more of the women I've met have the tendency to wait for premium hands and play strong pre-flop, rather than post-flop like men do. But there are more female players in the field now and some are even more aggressive than men. There are a lot of great female players.
PSW: Can you tell us something about being a pro that most people would be surprised to hear?
Vivian: In my case, for those who don't know me, they might think I'm playing poker all day. Yes, poker is an important part of my life and it is a game I love. But I do enjoy so many other things that the world has to offer. I believe most poker players do also.
PSW: Do you have a travel tip that you can share with us?
Vivian: Great views and tourist spots are nice but I think it's a good way to enjoy the place by sticking to one spot and getting to know the locals, rather than moving around trying to see everything. Making a friend and enjoying local food will be a good memory. And if you ever get the chance to travel there again, having a friend will make everything more pleasant.
PSW: What's your favorite indulgence that makes you feel more at home on the road?
Vivian: I believe the best part of traveling is to experience something I have never done before. So traveling is not really a problem for me. I enjoy having to face unpredictable situations.
PSW: What's your favorite hobby outside of poker?
Vivian: I enjoy traveling and searching for delicious local restaurants. When there is a new game I'm interested in, I spend time with my friends enjoying it.
PSW: When you're not on the road, what is your favorite thing to do?
Vivian: Whenever I have some free time, I take a long bath with the tub filled with herbs. I read a book and get rid of all my stress. I've been doing this for almost ten years and it really helps keep me from catching colds and the aromatherapy helps me keep my mind clear and emotions straight. Besides that, driving for hours to eat at a famous restaurant is also a great pleasure.
PSW: Do you have any advice for women new to the game?
Vivian: No matter if poker is a job or a hobby, if you are thinking about the hands you played that day and thinking about better ways to play them, the mistakes you've made, and just replaying the moments in your head over and over, you'll probably find yourself one day as a champion.
PSW: What are the most unexpected challenges and benefits of your new-found pro status?
Vivian: I never expected to become a pro. When I first started poker, I just played every hand with a small hope of winning a big pot. Now I'm playing as a pro with people noticing me. It is at times, quite awkward.
Sometimes, the more I play, the more I get down from many of the downsides that come with the game. But for the most part, the rush of excitement that comes from the game is the best. Nothing can replace it.
You can find out more here about Vivian Im