PS Women: Roxieforu05, recharged

Esther Maludzinski and I have a history. On the day after Christmas in 2010, we were two of three players remaining in the last online satellite to the 2011 PCA Ladies Event. Two $3,500 packages were on the line, but after running her pocket fours into OCQueenie's pocket tens, Esther bubbled the satellite. One of the most invigorating, joyful moments I've experienced in poker had the opposite effect on the 44-year-old mother of three who plays under the moniker "roxieforu05."

"I was really bummed out, my confidence was low and so I stopped playing for about six months and spent that time reading about poker, watching videos and trying to improve my mental outlook about the game," she said.

Esther has flourished since her hiatus. Over the last five months, she's shipped a PCA Main Event package off a $10 investment, twice final tabled the Women's Sunday, and most recently finished fourth in Event #42 of the MicroMillions 4, banking $6,557 after a five-way deal.

Facing a field of more than 21,000 players, Esther simply hoped to finish in the money when she bought into the $5.50 NLHE event. However, by the time the field had melted down to 200, she'd built up a Top 10 chip stack. Esther described her road to the final table as a steady, uphill climb where she stuck to the mantra "one hand at a time."

"I didn't look at the prize breakdowns, I didn't look at where I was in relation to making the final table, I just played it one hand at a time. You cannot change the cards you are dealt, all you have control over is the way you play them," she said.

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By the time she reached the final table, Esther had been playing for nearly 10 hours, multi-tasking the entire way. "Playing for so many hours is hard to do, knowing dinner needs to be made, dishes need to be done, etc. So my laptop really gets a workout when I run deep like in this tournament," she confessed. Dragging her laptop around the house while folding laundry, sweeping floors, and cooking dinner for her family was a strategy that served her well when she won her PCA Main Event seat at the end of October (she was unloading the dishwasher when that bubble burst), and she returned to it in the MicroMillions.

"The hardest part for me in playing these big tournaments is that being a wife and mother means sometimes sitting out of a tournament to eat dinner with my son and husband, which I did during this tournament, possibly missing out on premium hands. But that's life, and it also means missing out on potential hands that could have crippled me, so it all balances out."

The grit and determination Esther displays at the poker table also extends to her professional life. She currently works part-time as a guard for prisoners at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in the Rocky Mountain town of Jasper, Alberta. The job affords her plenty of opportunities to work on her poker game.

"I have a great passion for (poker) and am always looking at ways to improve and analyzing what went wrong when I am not doing well in a tourney or SNG."

While thus far she's stuck to low and mid-stakes MTT's, SNGs and satellites, Esther plans to use her now-boosted bankroll to play some higher-stakes tournaments as well as some satellites to EPT events. However, she's set aside a portion of her winnings to fulfill another dream--taking a poker cruise with some of the women she's met playing online. Putting faces to screen names, she said, was the best part of her 2013 PCA experience.

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"One thing that really made the trip special was meeting some of the women that I have played against online over the years. It was awesome to meet them and share some laughs. One woman even screamed with excitement in the poker room and gave me the biggest hug when she realized I was Roxieforu05."

If we're ever in the same room, Esther, I might do the same.

Kristin Bihr is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in PS Women