WCOOP Woman of the Series winner: Kathy Row

wcoop2009-thumb.jpgSome people celebrate a big tournament win with a happy dance, some with a bottle of champagne, and then there's Kathy Row, winner of the PokerStars WCOOP Woman of the Series award. She celebrated her biggest cash--$74,000 in event #18 ($320 NL)--with a celebratory walk. After approximately ten hours of playing and a deal at the final table for each of the top three to divide up the $222,000 in cash, she celebrated by going for a walk with her boyfriend. But then again, they had a lot to talk about.

Not only was there this huge cash for Kathy (screen name rockstar 2)--there were five cashes in all throughout the series--and two other final tables, giving her a total cash of close to $90,000 for the series. And then there was also the happy fact that as the PokerStars Woman of the Series, she now held a ticket to the PokerStars Women Live event at the PCA in January (worth $3,500). So there was a trip to plan as well, one that she was especially looking forward to, having never played a PokerStars live event.
You could say that it was all just another walk in the park for the Winnipeg Canada native, but you would be wrong. It's not that she doesn't get excited, it's just that she is very focused and takes the game and the learning opportunities it offers as a chance to challenge herself--and of course, the guys at the table too. '"When I find myself as one of the only women still standing toward the end of these tournaments, I find it humorous to hear them say, "Oh no, Kathy is at our table." That always makes me smile."'

She reported feeling very focused and well rested the morning of Event #18, which led her to play each and every hand with "the same drive and passion as the first." She sees each tournament as a learning experience and says, "Each hand allows me to continue to learn and analyze the decisions I make." She did admit later to being "a little shell shocked," when it was all over though. Maybe that was why they held off on the big celebrating until the next evening when she went out to dinner and drinks with her boyfriend. He had a lot to celebrate too, as he was the one who got her into the game in the first place. "I'm primarily a live player who learned by watching my boyfriend Joe play countless live and online hands. With his support, I began to play small tournaments, and had some success. I also read poker forums to learn as much as possible."

Kathy hasn't had much time to play in the last couple of years, since she keeps busy with her own business as a representative for a jewelry line and raising a teenage son. So she says that she is now looking forward to focusing more on poker and her business. She would also like to get back to writing, one of her other passions, and maybe try to ply those skills by reporting on poker. Renovations on the house that she recently bought with her boyfriend will also be taking up some of her time in the near future, along with maybe another poker trip or two. She is definitely looking forward to playing the PokerStars Punta Cana event in November, and maybe more if she can work them in.

She remarked, "This may be the perfect timing in my life to focus on my poker career because of all that support that I have around me."

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Kathy was good enough to answer several other questions that I posed to her so I'm going to cut right to the chase and just post them as Q&As, so here goes:

Q. What do you look forward to doing the most at the PCA?
A. I've been to the PCA twice with my boyfriend, but this time, I'm really look forward to participating instead of just being a spectator. It is so much more fun to play, rather than sitting along the rails! I was there before to support him, and this time he is more than happy to support me. I get a rush from the excitement of the tournaments and I also enjoy the gorgeous surroundings at the Atlantis.

Q. Will you play the Main Event?
A.
I will definitely try to satellite in. It is one of my missions and the timing is perfect for me.

Q. What is your favorite thing about poker?
A.
I'm rather competitive (having grown up with two brothers), and I enjoy challenging myself. I'm always striving to be the best I can be. But I also remember that I was once a beginner and had a lot of support along the way, so my philosophy is to make sure I don't comment on anyone else's play or mock new players.

Q. What advice do you have for women who want to play large multi-event online tournaments like the WCOOP?
A.
Be more aggressive and take control of more pots by raising instead of calling Use your intuition and don't be afraid to make a stand. Women should never be afraid or intimidated by the game. We have the opportunity to make incredible strides in the poker community.

Q. What kind of differences do you expect in a live tournament like the PCA, compared to an online series like the WCOOP?
A.
The play is much more aggressive online. I think this is because players are not afraid to be knocked out as much, since they have many other tournaments they can go into, whereas in live poker, once you're out, you're out, and that's it. There is also a difference in adjusting to blind levels. Online players are used to 10-15 minute levels and don't necessarily know how to adjust for 20-30 minute levels. So given that, I play my usual tight solid style, but find I'm forced to stand lighter against opponents than in live games, due to wider hand ranges. Live events also give you the opportunity to focus on tells and playing styles more than online and when I play the women's event at the PCA I will have the opportunity to do more of that.

I'm thrilled about playing this particular event and plan on reading, learning, and analyzing the game in advance as much as I can in preparation for it. Women's tournaments usually have more talk at the tables and getting to know one another than you find in open events, so I enjoy the challenges of a completely different environment like that. The social component of live poker is fun and that is a part I enjoy.

Q. Are there any other major differences in playing women's events, compared to open events?
A.
Women can sometimes be elusive and rather tricky, which can make them harder to read in some cases. But overall, I play my own game and don't approach the tournaments as "men vs. women" or "women vs. women," but as player to player.

Q. Do you have any other advice for women who want to get into the game?
A.
Over the course of the last few years I have had many women approach me and mention that they would love to learn how to play so they can participate in events alongside their partners and friends. I feel that encouraging words are always extremely helpful and that women are not as well represented as they can be. Early on, I decided that I wanted to be a player, and not only a spectator in the poker arena, but also in the arena of life. Now, with my personal life in order and with the full support of my family, I am able to enjoy the game fully. I plan to continue to be a force to be reckoned with!

Rebekah Mercer
@PokerStars in PS Women