This month I thought I’d let some ladies tell their stories, on and off the felt. The women featured all have varying ranges of poker skill. Hopefully these excerpts will give you a small glimpse of what’s on the mind of women in poker today.
Playing in a poker room
By Cynthia Albert
For many people, and not just women, the thought of entering a poker room is very unnerving. Just the sight of all those players hunched over their cards at the table, looking so serious, riffling their chips, doing their best Phil Ivey impression, is enough to send some back to the comforts of the blackjack tables or slot machines.
Years ago, before any one knew who Chris Moneymaker was, I remember standing with my father, who was not an easily intimated man, watching the poker action at the Grand Hotel in Biloxi, Miss. We enjoyed playing poker at home with friends, but neither of us had ever played in a casino with a bunch of strangers. He seemed interested though, so I asked him if he wanted to give it a try. I can still hear his voice so clearly as he replied, “No, Baby. Those people would eat me alive.”
However, after the Moneymaker Effect, I became very interested in Texas Hold’em, watching it on television and playing online every chance I got. It wasn’t long before I decided to give live poker a try. Coincidently I played my first live game at the Grand in the spring of 2004, when I went with my mother to Biloxi. I entered the poker room by myself and asked to get into the lowest limit game available. The staff was very helpful answering my questions and explaining the different game structures to me. Before I knew it, I was seated at a $2-$4 limit table. I was a little nervous, but I survived. Afterward I had more confidence and a better understanding of the game.
During the first couple of years I made many errors and breached many rules of poker etiquette that clearly identified me as a novice. Some mistakes even incurred the wrath of other players at the table. Those are the worst! Being readily identified as a novice leaves you at a clear disadvantage. So play live as soon (and as often) as you can. I promise the experience won’t be as scary as you might imagine, and the confidence and knowledge you’ll gain will be worth the effort.
My Happy Place
By Michele Katz
Often, therapists tell people to go to their “Happy Place.” When a client or a child is feeling frustrated or disturbed, we teach them to change their thinking, to go somewhere peaceful and joyous. We encourage them to retrieve a memory of a serene place.
There are many happy places. Mine include the beaches of Florida, my bedroom and the dog park. My most recent one is the World Series of Poker women’s tournament of June 2010.
I arrived at the Rio in Las Vegas on June 9, and upon entering this enormous room, I experienced a sudden burst of WOW at the shear size of this seemingly endless layout of tables, lights, chairs and high energy. It was overwhelming to me to see the room I’ve seen on TV really does exist, though in person, it was different. This room offered a chance for dreams to be realized and bracelets to be won.
After a complete inspection, and several touristy pictures, I went registered for my tournament, which wouldn’t start for two days. I had planned all year to do this. It was on my “Bucket List” to just play this one tournament, one time
After registering, the most amazing thing happened: I walked down the hallway and discovered the High Heels Poker Tour’s hospitality room. Most experiences meeting women in groups haven’t always been positive for me. But not here. Women, including professional players, approached me! Did you ever just have so much energy being exuded from your being that you felt you could not lose? That’s what happened to me.
For the first two hours in the ladies event I was winning every hand I played. This was not usual for me, but very exciting. I made it to the first break. My next goal was to make the lunch break, and I did. Upon returning to the table, I transcended from someone who “played poker” to being a “poker player.” It was a life-altering moment for me.
No one tells you how flooded with emotions you are during this event and that you have to hide them all day. And when you’re done you go into the restroom (or somewhere safe) and finally release all of the pent-up tension, excitement, disappointment and ecstasy of the day (by hysterically crying, of course, in a good way).
I finished 177th out of 1,054 players and far exceeded all of my goals. I lasted longer than most of the professionals I’ve seen on TV. In my mind I was a champion that day, and I added a new Happy Place to my repertoire.
Who really has the emotional advantage?
By Teri Savage
We’ve heard it all our lives, “Girls are more emotional than boys.” Is this good or bad? The last time I played live I felt an overwhelming contradiction to this myth. I was the only woman at this $1-$2 NLHE table. I started catching playable hands in position and won a few nice pots. But it didn’t stop there as I took out two of the guys shortly after that. I then found myself in a heads-up battle, faced with some aggressive betting as two eights were on the board. He bet big to get me off my hand but I called all the way. Why? I wasn’t proud of my kicker but my instincts told me he was weak. When my nine kicker beat his six kicker (we both showed eights in our hands) he exploded, yelling to the floor, “This girl needs to be banned!”
The night continued with every man trying to take me out with some trash talk along the way. But their fears and disgusts coupled with their overly aggressive plays worked against them. I had one of my best cash sessions for 2010. Their tilt became my advantage.
Here’s some positive news for the ladies. According to a new study published in the journal, Neuropsychologia, an article in Science Daily had this headline: “Women Outperform Men When Identifying Emotions.” Why? The study demonstrated that women are better than men at processing auditory, visual and audiovisual emotions.
While women usually are considered the more emotional gender, believe it or not infant boys are more emotionally reactive and expressive than infant girls, researchers have found. Interestingly, adult men have slightly stronger reactions, too, but only before they are aware of their feelings, found a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology that closely monitored facial expressions. In men, once the emotion reaches consciousness, that’s when men adopt a poker face.
Evolutionary psychologists have suggested women, because of their role as primary caretakers, are wired to quickly and accurately detect distress in infants or threatening signals from other adults to enhance their chances of survival.