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PokerStars Women: Life Lessons from the PCA

Let Happy Times Ride

"Let's just say we're going to go to Bahamas next year now", Jamie Kerstetter told me as we ate mushy curry and awaited our plane back from Paradise to Philadelphia. Indeed, a trip to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure can be well planned by those who qualify in the earliest months, or totally impromptu for East Coasters and Floridians, who can hop a plane for less than the buyout figure of Nobu credit card roulette. But if you plan it far in advance, you maximize the fantasizing value of the trip.

Just after arriving to my hotel in the Bahamas, I entered the PokerStars Women's Sunday, a tournament I wish I could play every week. I was ambivalent about running ace-king into aces shortly after the second break, as I then got on the list for my favorite game, "Waterslides & sunshine." My spirits were so good, passerby asked to have what I was having (ice-coffee with soy). I probably should have avoided poker, that consistent changer of moods.

Instead I played in the one satellite to the Main that I budgeted for, after obsessing over the correct rebuy strategy in a $1K+ $1K optional rebuy. I asked every single floor person I saw whether the rebuy bullets were raked or not, until I got the answer I desired (which also happened to be the correct answer). I ran pretty poorly in the satellite, and though my dreams of playing the Main Event at the PCA were shot, I had lots to look forward to.

Jen Shahade PCA.jpg

Replace Alcohol with OFC

Open Face Chinese poker was a defining feature of this year's PCA; it was spread in cash games that ranged from $10 to hundreds of dollars a point. There was also the inaugural Open Face Chinese Poker tournament. When I went over to see how my friend Melissa Burr, who I profiled for PS Women, was doing in the Open Face tournament, she asked in a stage whisper of the cheerful guy stacking chips on her right, "Who is that?" It was Peter Jetten, who won the event, while Melissa cashed for sixth.

The biggest problem with Open Face seems to me the speed of play, especially four-handed. In a social environment, it can take 10 minutes a hand, a pace which could threaten the game's lifespan. It's hard to justify playing quicker than your opponents when you can laboriously calculate your odds and outs without penalty. I think three-handed and Heads-Up OFC are better because people feel less silly erring and, therefore, play more quickly.

On a positive note, Open Face limits drinking, a persistent temptation at the PCA and post-tournament bustout get togethers in general. I showed up to one OFC session slightly tipsy; after a few hands (an hour later), I was totally sober and ready to calculate flush outs.

Revert to ABC when Tired or Sick

The PCA Ladies Event is the most enjoyable ladies event I play in each year as well as the toughest and most fashionable; if you get a certain table draw, you may wonder if you stumbled into the "Chanel Invitational." I was feeling a little under the weather during the start of the Ladies, so I remembered the two cardinal rules to playing tired or sniffly: hand-sanitize regularly, and revert to ABC poker whenever possible.

The Best Time to Delve into Your New Passion is Now

It's still early in 2013, and Team Pro Vanessa Rousso is good inspiration for anyone who wants to learn a new skill or turn a passion into a career. At the PCA afterparty, Rousso held court in the booth at Aura, the nightclub at the Atlantis. In this blog, Rousso wrote about her ambitions in music and her DJ partnership, Deuces, with Lisa Pittman. "Over the last five years I've been taking music classes online. I studied sound design, music theory and composition, digital production, and lyrics and songwriting. At this point, I consider myself a well-rounded musician."

There's no better time than now to learn new games (Open Face, OFC) or rekindle old passions like Bikram Yoga, chess problems, and decadent feminist video projects.

Jen Shahade 3.jpg

Photo credit: Daniel Meirom

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