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Six-max with the ladies

Thumbnail image for PS Women logo.jpgSix-max tournaments and ladies tournaments are my two of my favorite forms. So when PokerStars Women debuted its weekly Tuesday six-max, I pined to play from afar. But it wasn't to be until a beautiful night in Jerusalem. In my new rental with views of the old City, I entered the tournament, which begins every Tuesday night at 15:00 (9 PM in Jerusalem) and played my very first PokerStars hand since April 2011.

I don't believe in signs or boomswitches, but it still felt so right when all the money went in on the pretty river. Boat after boat in my first hand back--clearly, I was on my home poker site.

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I love women's events because of the camaraderie and the familiar faces. You also see the widest range of skill level possible in Ladies events, creating unique strategic situations. In the PCA Ladies, I found Team pros Ana Marquez and Vanessa Rousso to my left while in EPT Monaco, I was sandwiched between HU specialist Melanie Weisner and Team pro Vanessa Selbst. Other times, like in the WSOP Ladies, I discover that an opponent has never played in a tournament before.

Six-max tournaments allow you to play a lot more hands, which makes them more profitable if you have an edge on the field. Patterns like folds to cutoff, button three bets, will emerge quickly and vividly. As a result, I find them very challenging and educational. When I play a six-max tourney, especially live, I'll often have a spot or two that keeps me up at night. Here's my most interesting hand from my inaugural tournament on Stars, against Charlotte Van Brabander, Sjlot, Friend of PokerStars.

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As the moon loomed over the Dome of the Rock, I was dealt A♦ Q♥ blind vs. blind against the beautiful Belgian Counter Strike pro and poker player. The women's six-max begins with a 2000 starting stack, and we had both chipped up considerably, with around 9000 effective (my stack) at blinds of 125/250 with 25 ante. I raised to 625, "Sjlot" called in the big blind and the flop was:

J♠T♣8♣

I flop a double gutter on an extremely wet board that would normally hit a defending range harder than a preflop raiser's. This doesn't apply as much blind vs. blind. I bet a little less than half pot with the plan of 3-bet jamming, since she may raise with worse draws like KQ and various clubs. Upon reflection, my plan is less appealing when enumerating all the possible two pair and straight hands. Counting all the combos is a long process of estimating, but to get started, there are only around seven likely Axcc (an ace of clubs with another club, discounting AJcc-AKcc which may raise preflop) while there are 16 ways to get dealt 97 and 12 ways to get Q9 (I have one of the queens). So I may consider alternative plans on the flop. Charlotte just called though.

The turn bricked with the 2♦, I checked and she checked behind. The river was 2♠ and I checked again. Now my plan was to either fold or call pending bet-sizing. She bet around 1/3 pot and I called hoping for KQ or clubs, but she had the straight with Q♦ 9♣.

When a hand bugs me, I contact various poker friends about it. Every pro I talked to had a different preferred line in this hand (including a particularly creative suggestion of checking the flop, and if it's checked back, overbetting brick turns and jamming most rivers). I love that winning players of various stakes and formats can have such drastically different ideas on how to play a hand.

If you also like chatting with women poker players and hands that keep you up late at night skyping, I recommend the Tuesday Ladies six-max. When I hyped the event @PokerStarsWomen on twitter, my friend Danielle "dmoongirl" Andersen replied with an apt metaphor: "ZOMG Women's Six max? Wet Dream."

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