Ignore the ladies at your peril
In January I went home to Melbourne for the Aussie Millions. I have a special attachment to that tournament series. Crown Poker was where I learned to play but, for whatever reason, I've never had any great results there.
This time around I made a deep run and finished in 24th place. When I made the final 36 on Day 4 I was really excited. I could barely sleep or eat. My younger sister, with whom I'm virtually inseparable with when I'm home, spent two days railing me. It was amazing having that support because I felt like if I busted, and she and my husband Fred were there to hug me at the end, everything would be fine.
I wasn't the only woman who made a deep run. Jay Tan, Kitty Kuo and Sam Cohen joined me in the final 36 players. Starting on Day 4 we were all still in contention for the final table and a possible Aussie Millions title. I think fewer than 2% of the field was female, so it was great to have four of us make the final 36 - three as Asian women who frequent the Macau poker scene - even though none of us won.
If you look at how well the women are performing in these deep-structured, big buy-in tournaments, you can see that we all seem to be going deep very often. I don't think that's a coincidence. Most of us work very hard at our game every single day, just like the guys.
Many of us have become close friends, too. Jay and I are quite tight. We talk with each other about poker all the time. It's really great having another female who's seeing the game from the same perspective. How a guy would play against a woman is very different than how he would play against another guy. With Jay, I can talk about things and share experiences that men probably wouldn't understand.
I wish there were more women that I could talk to like that. I understand that the game is very competitive and that turns off some women, but the industry needs more female pros. It would be a great thing for the poker market as a whole.
After all, the attitudes of men are changing. Sure, when I won the second Red Dragon in Macau, there were posts on Facebook from men saying that if they had lost to a woman heads-up, they wouldn't be able to show their faces in public again. There are definitely players in Macau that dismiss my results because, "You're a woman. You shouldn't be competing in this arena against the men."
But more men were supportive of my Red Dragon win and my Aussie Millions run than weren't. A few years back, a lot of guys would dismiss women's results. "Oh she ran good," they'd say. Or "She got lucky." But after a while, repeated good results can't be ignored. Players are starting to say, "These women are good at this game. They're players to watch out for at the table."
In some ways, I liked it better when the boys didn't know they needed to be wary of me. But if that's the price of getting more women into the game, then bring it on.
Celina Lin is a member of Team PokerStars Pro