Nichoel Peppe on being part of Team PokerStars Online
By Rebekah Mercer
Before she became a successful poker player Nichoel Peppe was studying acting and hosting televised poker tournaments from the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. Not a bad gig at all, but apparently being a Team Online member has its perks, and one of them is not having to answer to a boss all day. We can't imagine why she would feel that way, but just in case you can, read on to see what the life of an online poker pro is like. Oh, and sitting around in her p.j.'s all day--did we mention that? It sounds like a tough life, but as they say, someone has to do it.
How many hours of poker do you play per week?
I play about 30 hours a week on average. I don't enjoy marathon sessions, so if I can play 4-5 hours a day every day, I would far prefer that to playing 8 - 12 hours daily.
How many tables at one time is average for you?
Well, I started playing almost one hundred percent in the "live" realm while reading about online players in magazines and the forums. Apparently the thing to do online was to play like twelve to twenty-four tables at time . . . or so I read. So when I first started online that is exactly what I did. I jumped right into playing six to eighteen tables at a time and just (to put in frankly) hated it! I quickly realized that you cannot just adopt another player's version of success and expect it to work for you. I now play three tables at a time (maximum) and truly prefer to play one or two at any given time. While I may not rack up the VPPs that other players do, I now truly enjoy my work environment, make far fewer mistakes and have the time and opportunity to concentrate on and exploit other players' tendencies.
What stakes/limit do you play primarily?
While I started playing primarily no-limit, I have since done a complete one-eighty and now my favorite games currently are the 10/20 and 15/30 6-Max Omaha Hi-Lo games.
Do you ever wish you could play more live poker?
I do miss live poker. While I love to be able to just wake up and play online in my pj's, I do miss the social interactions of playing live. So I try to bring that aspect to my online game by chatting with my opponents.
Do you think your style is influenced by the fact that you're a woman?
Whether I want it to or not, I think my style is definitely influenced by being a woman. It's pure biology, really. . .while men usually want to punch something when the going gets tough, women mostly feel like breaking down and crying. And while I far prefer our biology (ha!), it really doesn't help us in terms of card playing. In the beginning, I found myself numerous times saying "Geez, I keep raising that guy, I should give him a break," or "Oh, that poor player, he just keeps getting the worst of it, I'm going to go easy on him." That was probably the worst thing for me to do (that is if I actually wanted to win at this game) and most assuredly most men are not ever thinking these things! I have had to learn to overcome my biology and push these instinctual (and primarily womanly) thoughts aside to be able to play the game most profitably. Now I just keep reminding myself that if I'm going to play the game, I have to play it right . . . no one is going to cry for me as they take my money!
Is your gender a challenge or an opportunity for you as a woman?
Being a female poker player can definitely be an opportunity, if you allow it to be. For example, when you walk into a card room and sit down at a table (which is invariably filled entirely with men), nine times out of ten your opponents are thinking one of the following: 1) "Great, it's a woman ... easy mark," 2) "She is going to be super tight/solid ... I'll be able to push her around, " or 3) "Thank god it's an opponent with boobs ... now I don't have to stare at all these ugly men any longer! Oh yeah, and I'm sure she's terrible at poker."
Now perhaps these don't sound like opportunities, but in fact it works out entirely to our benefit to have our opponents think these things. I have found that my fellow players just think that I am super tight and always have it when I bet. Of course, I am a very solid player and probably seventy percent of the time I do "have it," but this impression they have of me lets me also take down the pot the other thirty percent of the time that I don't (which can transfer into quite a bit of additional income for me). Also, this impression allows me to get away with bluffs and plays that perhaps other players wouldn't get away with . . . simply because they don't expect it from me.
Like many poker players, you have had a few different careers. If you had to give up poker tomorrow, what kind of job would you pursue?
If I wasn't playing poker anymore, I suppose I would start a business of my own. Although, I couldn't tell you exactly what that business would be at this moment! But the thing I love the most about poker is that I am my own boss; which means I make my own hours and no one tells me what to do. After having this type of career for so long, I can't imagine being in a world where I then have to be accountable to the whims and wishes of someone else.
Taking into consideration the fact that amateurs can be so volatile and hard to read, please answer this question: If you had your choice to play heads-up against a rank amateur or a mid-level pro in a big tournament which would you choose?
As I feel the strongest part of my game is my ability to read other people, I would choose to play the rank amateur. It usually follows that the newer one is to the game, the easier they are to read. Not to mention they would probably be making less than profitable plays, which would leave many opportunities for me to take advantage of. Following along the lines of the other questions, maybe the answer to this has a lot to do with me being a woman as well. For example, most men would probably say they want to play Phil Ivey (e.g.) heads-up, just to say they beat him, and hence, they are the best. I have never once had the desire to prove that I am the best! I know that there are tons better players than myself, and where money is concerned, I want to play whoever it is to make sure that I am the one who is getting it, and not my opponent!