by Shari Geller
My last article questioned why so few women play in the WSOP. While card rooms are no longer men only zones, and it is not unusual to see two or even three women at the same poker table, the attendance stats for women at the WSOP are still disappointingly low. I decided, rather than continuing to complain about the low representation of women, I would put my money where my mouth was and play in my first WSOP.
I chose the $1,000 Ladies’ No-Limit Hold’em Championship to be my first foray into the WSOP. Through some ingenious planning, the event truly was ladies only – the buy in was earmarked at $10,000, but women received a 90% discount, ensuring that no male player would crash the party as they have in years past. In all, there were 954 of us starting with 3,000 chips and 25/25 blinds. The field was not soft, far from it. There were experienced players at every table, and any idea that aggressive play would easily take down uncontested pots went out the window quickly.
I started out strong. I three-barrel bluffed a nice sized pot, representing I had hit my flush draw on the river when in actuality my straight draw had missed. I made good reads and built up a nice stack. Then I made a big mistake; with blinds at 100/200, I was sitting with about 8,000 chips. A woman to my right was short-stacked, about 2,500 chips. She had just doubled up to that amount with king-jack a few hands before. She pushed all in again and I looked down and saw ace-ten. I thought she had a wide range of hands she’d push with and was eager not only for her chips but to see another player knocked out. So I ignored the cardinal rule – that you need a better hand to call an all in than to push all in – and made the call.
She turned over ace-jack and I immediately had caller’s remorse. I was down now to 5,500, still plenty of chips, not at all dangerously low. But that’s when I made big mistake number two. I let my bad call stay in my head. I continued to think about how dumb my call was and how, had I just thought another second, I would have mucked and I’d still have those chips. Suddenly, I lost the aggression I had when the day started and became tentative.
I became overly protective of the “few” chips I had left. I lost the ability to play position and instead focused solely on my starting cards. I went to the dinner break and still could not stop thinking about the chips I lost rather than those I still had. Finally, I remembered the advice I’ve given in this column. The past was the past, and I was going to play my game. I came back determined. I hung in with a short stack, picking my moments, taking down blinds and antes and staying alive. On the button I found pocket nines and pushed all in, hoping someone would call thinking I was attempting a steal. Unfortunately, the big blind woke up with pocket queens and my day was done.
So why do I look back fondly on my first WSOP event? First, I was able to cross playing in the WSOP off my bucket list. But most importantly, I had a great day playing with a wide variety of fellow poker players and learned some good lessons I can’t wait to put into practice in my next tournament.