PS Women: Chips and tips from Lydia Cugudda

Coming off a second place finish at the recent UKIPT Series Main Event for £13,140, Lydia Cugudda is seeing the payoff from the last five years of work on her game.

Lydia, who plays under the screen name "domilid," learned to play at a local club in Germany where she was working at the time. "The structure of the game was terrible, but it got me hooked," she remarked to PokerStars Women. She was also hooked on the man who taught her the game, and they later married. Their kismet story of love blooming at the poker table is not a totally new one but is one that always makes us happy. Although we're jaded poker players, we're always glad when we see poker leading to money AND love.

Since that meeting in 2008, Lydia has played mainly on PokerStars when she plays online because she enjoys the ease of using the software and the satellites to live games. The UK resident has won entries for three events at the UKIPT, as well as a package to last year for the Women's Event in Barcelona via satellites. "I like the fact it has a reasonable amount of women's games, too. I don't think any other sites compete in this respect. I try to play the Women's Sunday and Women's Tuesday most weeks, plus the satellites for the women's games."

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Lydia and her husband enjoy traveling to poker tournaments together and decided to play the UKIPT Series Main Event at the last minute because it was nearby and they could ride the train. It turned out to be a great decision and one that resulted in her paying off her car and buying generous gifts for both of her parents. It seems that her happenstance meeting with her future husband over poker has turned out to have lots of great benefits for Lydia.

Since she has been so successful in winning online satellites we asked her for a tip that has contributed to her success. Here's one that many of us see as counterintuitive at first glance, but it seems to work for a lot of players. "When playing online satellites, I generally prefer to late register. Satellites are about preserving your chips and just staying alive. It's a completely different tact to a regular tournament."

Since Lydia was good enough to give us that one hint, we couldn't help but be greedy and ask for more, and she was generous enough to oblige. Here's some good advice on what to avoid in a live tournament like the UKIPT: "My biggest mistake was probably heads-up against PokerStars Team Pro Jake Cody. I didn't keep a close enough eye on the chip stacks, and when I three-bet shoved and ran into his kings, I had more chips than I thought so it appeared a bit reckless. Next time, I'll be taking more time and paying closer attention to my stack and my opponent's chip count."

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Along the same lines, Lydia added, "The biggest mistake I saw other players making was not being aware of their chip stack. Players who were around the 10-big-blind count were flat-calling raises, calling bets on the flop and turn, and folding the river. They would just dwindle half their stack for no apparent reason. I think the biggest mistake newbies make is not thinking through their actions. 'If I raise and the short stack in the blind shoves all-in, am I calling?' I try to make these decisions before I make my move. I saw a lot of players who clearly didn't think these things through and left themselves in tough spots, and eventually folded and wasted chips."

Before we let her go we had to ask if she has any special rituals or preparations before a tournament. Her answer is one that all poker players should probably keep in mind as they sit down for what could be (and hopefully will be) a long tournament. "The one thing I always ensure before I play is that I'm well fed. I'm a right grouch when I'm hungry and would spend the whole time thinking about food. Other than that, I just try to have as much fun and banter at the table as I can. I play poker for fun; winning is just a bonus."

The Dusk Till Dawn tournament at Monte Carlo is next up for Lydia, so if you plan to go, look her up and say hello. And if you haven't qualified yet for your EPT Monte Carlo trip, there's still time. But hurry; this is the last weekend to qualify. For more information on upcoming satellites, see our PS Women Live page.

Rebekah Mercer
@PokerStars in PS Women