PS Women: Barcelona Satellite Winners Tell All

PS Women logo.jpgWritten by Rebekah Mercer

The PokerStars EPT Barcelona festival is one of the most anticipated stops on the EPT docket and the numbers this year are expected to be even bigger than usual. Three players who have already sewn up their seats will be enjoying the anticipation of planning a trip to one of the world's most exciting cities between now and August 17. All three won packages worth €2,000 to play in the PokerStars Women Live tournament August 17-20. Besides the €550 buy-in, the package also includes hotel accommodations at Hotel Arts Barcelona for three nights, a goody bag, and €720 for expenses. They will also be invited to the never-to-be-missed, party of all parties - the official PokerStars EPT party. All three qualified via the daily satellites running on PokerStars, and one of them won her package for a mere €22.

The players range from a relative newbie (Lydia), who was unsure whether quad jacks was a good hand not so long ago, to a four-time PokerStars Women Live qualifier and winner of the 2011 London event (Jan Combes). Another player (Sonja Kovač) is a former actress and model who now plays poker professionally and has racked up wins in the Croatian Poker Series Ladies Event and most recently in the MicroMillions tournament series. All of them have some strategy pointers to share with you and some things to avoid if you want to win consistently at satellites, as they have.

First up is Lydia from the UK who started playing four years ago and says she "didn't have a clue" about how to play poker at first. She won her first game, however, and was hooked after that. I'm just guessing, but maybe it had something to do with those quad jacks! After that she started playing in a local league that awarded points for prizes. She eventually won a 42" TV, but that only fueled her poker obsession. She started playing online and now plays exclusively on PokerStars. This will be her first PokerStars Women Live event, and she says she is really looking forward to the tournament and to seeing Barcelona. "Even if I don't do well, it's somewhere I've never been, and I'm very excited about a weekend break. And for €22, it's certainly not a bad result!"

Lydia Cugudda.jpg

Lydia says that making notes on other players and thinking through hands are key strategies for her. She also recommends distancing yourself from distractions like television while playing. "Avoid trying to catch up on Glee and other favourite TV programmes whilst in the middle of a game." She comments, however, "I'm not promising that I practice what I preach, though!" And what about those things to avoid? "Limping in early position and folding to raises" are things that she has seen that stand out.

Jan Combes (screen name jamjars69) is well acquainted with PokerStars Women Live tournaments and has made some very good friends that she sees regularly at the tournaments. She's had plenty of time to catch up with them, since she has played four of them in the last twelve months - London, Madrid, PCA in the Bahamas, and Monte Carlo. She won the tournament in London, and now she's off to Barcelona to see if she can do it again. Jan has been playing poker for three years and was taught by her son, pro Charlie Combes. "He has been an inspiration and my support, encouraging me all the time."

Stamina is something that Jan says is important in winning tournaments. "I was so tired by the end, I don't know how I kept going. Especially as I'm no spring chicken!" She's enjoyed getting to play with some of the best players in the world, including Vanessa Rousso, Victoria Coren, and Leo Margets. She especially enjoyed playing with Vanessa Selbst - and knocking her out! "I must admit, I did enjoy knocking her out, as not many people get that opportunity. Sorry Vanessa!" One of the most important things she's learned in playing tournaments is "the realization that I can play high standard poker against some of the best women players."

Jan Combes.jpg

Her tips include some of the classics: "Pick your tournaments well, and watch your seat position when playing a big hand. You can get into deep trouble if you are out of position. Stay calm when the going gets tough, and be patient. Show no fear; just go for it. You don't win by showing weakness." She also commented that she's seen a few classic mistakes as well. "I saw lots of hesitation and slow play, which is where you often get your fingers burnt."

Jan has an interesting perspective on youth versus maturity in poker that she shared with us. "I think most people believe that poker is only for young people. Well, hopefully I have shown them it is never too late to start. It is very good for aging brain cells and much more fun than crosswords or sudoku! Sadly, I lost my daughter two years ago, and poker has given me a purpose and also an opportunity to travel."

Our final profile is with Sonja Kovač, who is fresh off a win in the MicroMillions tournament series on PokerStars. She won Event 34 and triumphed against 6,744 players, turning a $5.50 investment into $4,391.52. Her competition included two prominent online players - Kevin Thurman and Andre Coimbra. Sonja is from Croatia and plays online under the screen name "afroditaluna." She has played for three years but turned pro in the last year. She has experience in many live events, including the Croatian Poker Series Ladies Event, which she won. This will be her first women's event and her first EPT. "For some time, it is my wish to play the EPT, and this ladies event will be my first. I have to admit that I am very much looking forward to it."

The key strategy that she credits with her win in the Barcelona satellite was mixing it up. "At the beginning I played a little bit tight, and in later stages, I played more aggressively. Other players were afraid when the bigger blinds came." Good advice from someone who knows how to make it pay off.

Sonja Kovac 2 - Copy (1).png

So there you go. That's all the advice we can give you; the rest is up to you. There's still time to get into the seat-only qualifiers. The qualifiers continue from July 30 to August 5 at various times and levels. To register for a satellite or buy in directly to a Weekly Final, open the PokerStars lobby and click Events & EPT. We hope to see you in Barcelona!

For more on what to see and do in Barcelona, see this page. And for more on all things related to women in poker, including strategy tips, pro interviews, and all the details of upcoming events, see this home page.

Jen Newell
@PokerStars in PS Women