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Ten players lock up PCA ladies weekend seat early

ps_news_thn.jpgby Jennifer Shahade
Last month, I wrote some introductory strategy tips for satelliting into the Ladies Weekend at the PCA. So far, four $215 final satellites are completed and ten women, including Women in Poker Hall of Famer Kathy Liebert, have won their way into a spectacular weekend of poker, beach and fun. The $3480 package includes $700 for expenses, four nights hotel at the Atlantis, entry fee into the PCA Ladies Event ($1000+100), a Sunset Poker Beach Camp and a boot camp with Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso. And I'm very happy to say that I will be one of those players! Like most tournaments, the satellite I won had plenty of ups and downs.

On Halloween, my Sunday grind did not start well, unless you're talking about all the Reese's I ate that day. I busted in a few tournaments, so I was ambivalent about playing in the first qualifier for the PokerStars Women's Caribbean Adventure (January 13-16th). Then I thought about the Bahamas in January and how well satellites seem to fit my style. A few moments later, I was in, albeit five minutes late. Twenty-seven players entered and only one package was up for grabs, so I had to sweep all the chips to cinch it.

Here are a few of my observations from that tournament, but first a pic of how I was dressed...

jennifer_shahade_dress.JPG

1. Go aggro on the bubble: In the satellite I played, there were eight $215 rebates and only one grand prize package. Even though the rebate was so minor compared to the grand prize, I felt that for psychological reasons, players were too tight with 10-12 players. In borderline spots, I'd take advantage of this by raising more than usual.

2. Leave room for bad luck and await the good:
I thought this tourney was all over when my pocket tens fell to pocket sevens all in pre-flop, decimating most of my stack (a seven came on the river). Fortunately, I was able to chip back up and got lucky three-handed, when I raised with J♣9♣ from the button and was called by the big blind. The flop was J-5-2 rainbow with one club, and we got it in. She had A-J and I was ready to get up from my chair and console myself with Boardwalk Empire, when suddenly, a nine graced the turn.

To be honest, I can't blame myself for the play; top pair with a decent kicker and a backdoor flush draw was too strong to get away from in that spot.

3. Learn from your wins: Many claim "you learn the most from your losses," but I beg to differ! You can learn just as much from your victories, as long as you don't assume winning means you played flawlessly. You can go over clever plays, high-pressure spots, and mistakes with a clear head, without gross memories of a river gone wrong. When I went over my hand histories from the final table, I was happy with my play as we progressed from nine players to four. But once I got into the three-handed game, I reviewed a couple of weird decisions that I don't think I'd do in a regular sit & go or lower stakes satellite. In one case, I raised from the small blind with A-10 suited and check-called a very dry flop, then check-folded the turn. It was a pot that I'd normally be much more aggressive in claiming. My desire to whizz down the famous Atlantis waterslides had affected my game.

4. Think before you ask for swe(e)ats:
The first PCA final was during Halloween, so I did eat way too many sweets, but here I'm talking about "sweating," or when your poker buddies watch you play deep in a tournament. Normally I love it when my friends support me but I wasn't in the mood this time and refrained from posting a Facebook status update on the break such as "final table for PCA Ladies Weekend @PokerStars Women!" or calling my dad and brother, who both play regularly on PokerStars. I think the reason behind my gut feeling was that I had to step-up my aggression short-handed and didn't want to think about whether friends thought my play was spewy.

5. Heads-up with 30 big blinds, A-J is a very good hand
Just three hands into my abbreviated heads-up battle, I was dealt A♦J♦ in the small blind and won a race against pocket nines. A-J is one of those hands, like jacks themselves, that tends to get a lot of flak in deep-stacked full-ring poker. But it is lovely heads-up. I'm sure the new World Champion and Team PokerStars Pro Jonathan Duhamel would agree. He won his first World Series Bracelet and just under nine million dollars with a final showdown of A-J against John Racener's K-8 suited.

I hope these thoughts from my victory will help you win your way to the PCA. Now let's learn about how some of the other nine women did it.

November 7 satellite
In the second satellite held on November 7th, two players Luv2play2387 from Fayetteville and Jamie Kerstetter, "And the Law Won" earned seats to the Bahamas. Jamie shared her tips with PokerStars Women: "I would advise people not to play tight. These aren't one in five satellites where you can have a few big hands and coast to a seat. These satellites offer one seat per eighteen players, so you need to keep compiling chips as if you were trying to win a tournament. I would advise ladies to turn up the aggression, stop limping, start raising and 3-betting a lot of hands in position pre-flop."

Jamie played in last year's Ladies PCA Weekend, and finished in 5th place ($5740) after the eventual winner, Vanessa Rousso busted her with a higher flush. Jamie, who had a two-year stint as a poker pro, now works as a tax attorney while squeezing in as much poker as she can. This year, she is looking forward to PCA and to "hanging out with my wandering nomad poker playing friends who I only get to see during big events. These big events feel like reunions and PokerStars' parties last year served as great pre-gaming events."

November 14 satellite
The third final on November 14th was the largest with 70 players and four packages at stake. By the time the event was five-handed, two players were significantly shorter stacked than the rest of the field, vivavla (about 16,000 chips) and courtiebee (about 14,000 chips). In the critical hand, goodberry on the button limped, vivavla completed her small blind and the big blind, rcgs59 checked. The flop came K-6-Q rainbow.

Vivavla bet out, rcgs59 folded and goodberry raised all in. Vivavla made the call with K-9 and saw some bad news; goodberry had K-Q for top two. Runner-runner was not to be and the other short stack got to pop the champagne. Rose Christine G. "Rcgs59" from Hamilton, Canada, Courtney Gee "courtiebee" from Surrey, Canada, goodberry from Bryn Mawr, USA and vonki from Borlange, Sweden all earned packages.

November 21 satellite
Women in Poker Hall of Famer Kathy Liebert, 'PokerKat' from Las Vegas headlined the qualifier list on the 62-player November 21 satellite. Theness1 from Chino and BabyGalore from Toronto also earned their way to the Ladies PCA weekend. It was not as happy an event for bowmanbs from Vilonia. Four handed with three spots at stake, she was about equal in chips with theness1 when she got pocket queens all in against A-J. All looked safe until an ace on the river made its appearance. And with that card, ten ladies are PCA-bound!

Freerolls hosted by Woman Poker Player Magazine (November 28th) and High Heels Poker Tour (December 5th) are coming up the next two weekends, so even if you don't have Kathy Liebert's bankroll, you can find your way to the PCA.

NAPT LIPS Tournament
In the live arena, 97 players participated in the Ladies International Poker Series (LIPS) event at the North American Poker Tour Los Angeles stop at the Bicycle Casino. Earning first prize honors ($11,047) was Liz Hagensick of Los Angeles, who incredibly, had also won the previous LIPS tour event at the Bike in July 2010. Dee Dee Cole from Misson Viejo, California was the runner-up. After the event, Liz said, "The level of play at this tournament was the strongest I have ever seen. The women brought their A+++++++ game."

So that's a wrap for this month. Bring your PCA+ game to the satellites, and I'll see you in the Bahamas!

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