Jennifer Shahade plays like a girl and wins
Q. Jennifer, you have won two PokerStars Women Live packages in satellites on your first try--the most recent a package to the Grand Final in Madrid. You also did the same to win your seat to the PCA event. You must have a secret trick that you use to be so successful!
You probably don't want to reveal all your secrets, but for all the readers who are hoping to snag one of these for themselves--give us some hints please!
A. Absolutely! I have three tips for you.
Minimize Emotional Variance: In the spring of 2010, I was really heartbroken about three near-misses in trying to qualify for a €3500 EPT package to Monte Carlo. In that case, I was much more upset about missing the experience than losing money. So when I set out to qualify for the PCA Ladies event and the EPT Madrid, I decided I would play the target events regardless of whether I won a satellite. This released me to focus more on the poker . . . my heart beat more evenly toward the bubble. My play was probably only marginally better, but I sure enjoyed it more. Since I'm conservative with my bankroll I'm rarely playing in satellites that are so out of my range that I couldn't imagine buying in directly or finding a backer. For people who are more aggressive with their bankrolls, I'd suggest you make some sort of deal with yourself so that if you bubble, you're going to use the rebate to treat yourself to a higher stakes tourney during your Sunday rotation or a side event at the target tourney--something to cushion the blow in advance.
Watch the second table: When the play gets down to two tables, I open up the other one. I definitely advise others to try this as you can pick up a lot of information to use once you get short-handed.
Try to get the last bet in: One thing I notice about satellites is that people often underestimate that it's even more important than usual to get the last bet in. For instance, in one satellite I played in, every time I was in the big blind the button would minraise me. We were close to the bubble (this particular satellite awarded three packages) and I had a good stack to shove with, which I did three times in a row. If she had just folded or open shoved she would have been better off. There's no rule that you have to raise because you have the button and decent cards, in many cases you need to think hard about the table dynamic and the structure.
Q: I know that you have also written a book called Play Like a Girl! Tactics by 9 Queens that focuses on chess strategies. Maybe some of those tactics from chess apply to poker as well.
A: My most recent book contains hundreds of dazzling chess combinations from the top women chess players in history from the first women's World Champion Vera Menchik to Judit Polgar, the only woman to break into the top ten players in the World. Most of the key moves are aggressive and surprising, showing that in chess "Play Like a Girl" is a good thing. Aggression and creativity are also so important in poker and I think that Team Poker Stars Pros like Liv Boeree, Vanessa Rousso and Vanessa Selbst prove that "Play Like a Girl!" can be considered a compliment in poker as well.
Q. Do you have an overall approach to these kinds of satellites? For instance, do you play tight in the beginning then loosen up near the end? How much is based on reading other players and tells? How much about image?
A. In the satellites I won for the PCA and PokerStars Women Live EPT Grand Final, there was just one package at stake, with some rebates for the runners-up. So I needed to take every chip in the tournament by hook or by crook. My general strategy was similar to that of a top-heavy MTT. My style is naturally pretty tight-aggressive and I saw no reason to change that for a satellite with a fair number of loose players. I'm not a fan of the idea of changing my style drastically for a specific tournament, I'd prefer to take what I have and adapt by making gradual changes. To be honest, in the Madrid satellite, I felt I was playing overly tight at some points, and I had to remind myself of those aggressive female chess champions in Play Like a Girl! I amped up the aggression as we got short-handed, and it worked out well.
My goal is to increase my bankroll so that next year I'm playing in more Main Event satellites to EPTs and NAPTs. Some wonder whether women's tournaments promote eventual participation in open events and I want to show that in my case, the answer is "yes!" I really enjoy larger satellites where there are a lot of complex mathematical decisions toward the bubble. I just played a couple of 3x Turbo Rebuy supersats and would like to improve my game in those. Those are insane, a wild combination of pure gamble and odd math questions.
Q. Anything different about these satellites from others that you've played? For example--if there are a lot of new players (as we would expect) how do you adjust your strategy for that?
A. I would try to isolate the newer players and either avoid the strong players out of position or put them on a decision for all their chips. I know that the strong players think their equity is great in such an event and they won't want to take a thin spot.
Q. Did you satellite into the qualifiers or just buy your way into it? What was your total outlay?
A. For the Ladies EPT Madrid package I was in for just 3.30 Euro! For the PCA Ladies package, I bought in directly to the $215 final.
Q. You played the Women's Event at the PCA and several other women's events. Will you approach the one in Madrid any differently based on the location, buy-in, etc.?
A. I've played in the Ladies WSOP and the Women's PCA. I think the Madrid event will be similar to the PCA event in terms of structure, so I will approach it similarly. I just hope to meet as many wonderful people in Madrid as I did at the Bahamas.
Q. What do you plan to do while in Madrid besides play poker? What's at the top of your sightseeing list?
A. I love art and I want to see some masterpieces by Goya and Velasquez at the Prado that I read about back in art history classes. I also studied Spanish literature in college and I can't wait to have a drink or two and practice my rusty Spanish. And of course, I'm looking forward to getting to know many more members of the PokerStars Women community.
Q. Anything else you'd like to add?
A. Good luck to everyone trying for packages for EPT Madrid and beyond.
For more information on the PokerStars Women Live Grand Final event see THIS PAGE and for more articles about this tournament and other events for women go to PokerStars Women.