Life for lulu.pk70 as a mother, partner, Serbian Supernova
She was born in the small town of Prokuplje and never played cards as a child. But in January of 2013, she traveled 49 hours to get from Serbia to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas to play cards.
On weekday mornings, Lidija Nikodinovic spends her time cleaning, washing, cooking, and helping her son learn his school lessons. In the afternoons, she sits at her computer to play online poker tournaments like the Daily Bigs and some turbos. If those go well, her partner helps with dinner and drives their son to basketball training.
There seems to be two sides to the player known online as lulu.pk70, but in truth, she's like most of the women on PokerStars. She has familial obligations and values time with her partner and child, but she makes time for her poker life as well, not only because of the extra income but because of the challenge and joy it brings to her life.
Lidija hails from Serbia and lives there now, but she spent part of her childhood in France when her mother worked in Paris. She and her brothers occupied their free time with a lot of chess games. She also spent time back in Prokuplje, where she was partly raised by her grandmother. Her education includes secondary economic and trade schools, and two years of college for teaching French.
Her work background started at the age of 18 when she rented a shop to sell clothing. When she turned 40, she decided to stop working in the children's clothing shop to spend more time with her son and play poker. She rented her shop - along with another that she already leased out - and gave poker a chance. Two years later, she knows she made the right choice.
PokerStars bloggers took note of Lidija at the Eureka Poker Tour's Croatia stop in 2012. As one of the few women in the field, the online satellite winner played her first live tournament but didn't cash.
Not discouraged, though, she took to the satellites again and won her 2013 PCA prize package for only $320. She was excited for the tournaments as well as meeting fellow female competitors she had only known online. "I don't have the opportunity to speak about poker in my environment," she said, "but in the Bahamas, it is the only thing to talk about. I met other women poker players from Canada, USA, UK, France, and Russia. And I'm happy because of that."
Even the aforementioned 49 hours of travel just to arrive in the Bahamas was worth it for Lidija. "I drove by bus, mini bus, and three flights with three different companies," she recalled. "I almost forgot about the limousine from the airport to the hotel provided from PokerStars for Supernovas! The travel was long, but it was worth every spent hour."
Lidija scored her first live tournament cash. She played the PCA Main Event and took a small stack of 16,200 into Day 2. But a quick double gave her confidence, and though she lost some of those chips, she finished that day with 96,000. On Day 3, she was card dead but did make the money, cashing in 132nd place for $15,000. She played a few side events and the Women's Event but with no luck. "Play against other women is the most difficult," she surmised, "but I enjoyed the one hour and five minutes I spent with them in that tournament!"
A couple months later, she was on the road again, traveling to London for the EPT Main Event there, for which she qualified online. She failed to find success there, but she always has the online tables to which to return.
Online poker is where Lidija found her love of the game and continues to find profit, satisfaction, and success. Her accomplishments there are many. Back in 2011, she won the $162 Sunday 6-Max for nearly $22K. She counts that and the $109 Sunday Rebuy win among her best results, along with two second place finishes in the $530 Monday Omaha. Databases show that her online poker winnings exceed $200K.
Included in that list of scores are four Women's Sunday final tables over the past year. The closest she came to a win was second place on March of 2012, a month in which she made two final tables. Her most recent one was fourth place in a January Women's Sunday.
Her biggest win to date, however, is in the Sunday Storm. She was ready for the March 3 event this year, just having finished second in the Big $11 a few days before. "I was thinking, wow, 11,000 people and I almost won but was beat by a rivered flush." Then she played the Storm amongst almost 50,000 people. She made the final table, which she admitted required "a lot of luck," but she ended up three-handed and made a deal. Though she believes that deal took her off her game, lulu.pk70 still took third place for more than $35K.
And the bottom line for Lidija is that her enjoyment of the game surpasses the results. "I love to play poker," she said. "It does not matter if it is online or live; I love the game."
While Lidija's proudest moments on the virtual felt are some of the aforementioned successes, she talked as much about her life partner and son as she did about poker in the interview. As most poker players, she looks forward to the Sunday grind on PokerStars, but Saturdays are special. She spends them with her life partner and son, sometimes watching the latter's basketball games, other times simply enjoying each other's company.
Some would say this makes Lidija a well-rounded person. She has found a solid balance between poker and family, as well as between the income she makes and her passion for the game.
So whether you meet Lidija at a live tournament or see lulu.pk70 at the online tables, just know that she is a prime example of a woman who handles it all. She has managed to work her poker passion into life a bit later than some of today's players, but she is no less fearless or feared because of it.
Jennifer Newell is a PokerStars freelance contributor.