Fold Equity, Baby: Nine Months on the Circuit

One of the best things about pregnancy is the amazing advice you get from Internet message boards, coworkers, friends and even strangers on the street. Now it is my turn to reveal hidden benefits and tips for preggo poker, while I gratuitously name-drop every tournament I made a run in.

1. Baby You Deserve Some New Shoes: The sudden swelling of my feet during pregnancy attracted so much attention.


Three and a half months along at the WSOP Main Event, I had not announced my pregnancy, but the growth attracted plenty of compliments and admiring looks. I even had to buy new shoes for the occasion. After this interview with Sarah Grant of PokerNews, she asked what had I done to my feet lately- was it all that CrossFit pushing my arches up or did I actually go to a podiatrist? None of the above! Just the magic of progesterone making extra baby fat equity.

2. Those Extra Couple Degrees: At the last handful of tables in a WSOP 1K, an Italian guy in a white hoodie is x-betting or complaining about the Arctic chill in the amazon room to every dealer, player and floorperson he can call over. A till then taciturn veteran can't take it anymore and blurts out: "Man up and quit whining," as he alludes to combat conditions in Vietnam. Cushioned by the warmth of the growing human inside me, I had to agree on all accounts with the gent to my right. *fistbump* And then promptly busted to white hoodie.

3. Wear What You Want: Bodycon dress, Ms PacMan costume, horizontal stripes, pregnancy is the one time you cannot be criticized for what you wear (unless you're a Kardashian).

jen_yellow_hair_9dec16.jpgPlaying in a Halloween turbo at the Stars NJ Festival

At the PokerStars NJ Festival, 8 months pregnant, I got sweet compliments on a floral I wore for the Chad Brown Memorial, "I love what you did to your grandma's couch!" said one admirer, while tournament co-host Fatima Moreira de Melo told me, "I can't tell you're pregnant at all.... except for that flower pot with a child blooming out of it."

chad_brown_ft_9dec16.jpgFinal table at the Chad Brown Memorial

4. Natural RNG: Your decision on this particular river is as close as a newborn's fingernail. Ignore blockers and bet sizing: better take advantage of your maternal instincts. Put your hand on your stomach and wait sixty seconds for a kick (call), flip (raise) or no movement (fold). If you notice yourself over-folding using this method, get to the closest hospital immediately. Relax and breathe: Worst case scenario you'll give birth on the AC boardwalk while your husband takes over your stack.

5. If your gestation is like mine, "Pregnancy brain" will make you think a lot like a 20-something guy! I relate a lot better to the average reg, including the urge to look at online cartoons between hands. Visual stimulation can't always wait till break. I also learned the hard way that a private tab on an iphone still shows up in your browsing history 

6. Brings Up Lively Table Conversation: One minute everyone is discussing twitter gossip and some sport you don't know a thing about, and the next, the attention goes where it really belongs- on you and your little angel. Friendly opponents even bring him up during a hand, like a Borgata reg who was perplexed over my river bet, and suddenly wondered, "When's this baby due?" I trembled in silence. When he finally called, I flipped over the winner and said, "January 1"

Jen_Barcalona_9dec16_v2.jpgAt EPT Barcelona, five months pregnant

7. Everyone Cheers for You: All root for the pregnant lady, from the frenemy on your group chat to the regular you had that prolonged Open Face dispute with. Even villain's family may have mixed feelings. After an EPT Barcelona blind v blind baby nitroll, Daragh Davey told me his pregnant girlfriend "blasted him on messenger" for eliminating me.

8. Go All In: If you are on a televised cash game, consider throwing naming rights for your child into the pot- the worst that can happen is a firstborn who goes by "NoobCrusher."

Jennifer Shahade
@PokerStars in PokerStars news