PCA 2015: Fun and money at the Women's Event
When I tell people I work for PokerStars, they always ask how much of my wages I lose playing online (thanks for the confidence boost, by the way). The answer is none - not because I'm a good player, but because PokerStars staff are strictly forbidden from playing any real money games on the site.
The same thing goes here at Atlantis: we're not allowed to play in any of the many cash games, sit & go's or tournaments that take place at the PCA. And today there's one tournament running with yet another reason why I can't play: the annual Women's Event.
The tournament has a lower buy-in this year, $600 as opposed to $1,000 in 2014. While the prize pool has subsequently taken a hit, with $28,242 to be won, it seems the tourney's traditional spirit of good old fashioned fun is very much still there.
I spoke to last year's third-place finisher, Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima de Melo, about what makes this event so special.
"It's such a different type of event, everyone's there to enjoy themselves but also obviously to play good poker. The levels are pretty different between the players, so you're sitting with everyone from experienced Team Online Pros to poker enthusiasts."
Those who definitely fall into the 'experienced' category this year include Adrienne 'talonchick' Rowsome, EPT8 London Women's Event champion Jan Combes, former Shark Cage contestant Sara Chafak and Elena Stover, who finished runner-up last year when de Melo came third. And that's not to mention chess Grandmaster, and last year's 31st place Main Event finisher, Jennifer Shahade.
"I also recognise a few ladies who played last year, such as Nola Doucet from the Toronto Poker League, and also Elizabeth Bennett-Martin from the TPL who went deep in the Main Event and finished 65th."
I ask if she has to change the way she plays in these more mixed-ability fields.
"You have to adapt a lot and you certainly can't bluff too much, right off the bat. Top pair is going to get called off almost instantly. I made a bluff with middle pair on a board with a rivered flush card, and the lady still called with top pair. I knew it, but I still had to do it. It was exactly what I knew I shouldn't do, I couldn't help myself!"
De Melo made it to Day 2 of the Main Event this year, but couldn't progress any further. I ask how she's been spending her time away from the tables.
"I've been playing tennis with Vanessa Selbst, it was really fun. She's up on me so far. I'm fitter but she has more of a tennis background and is more skilled, so I'm going to get my skill level up and crush her! Also, Leo Margets is my roommate. We've been hanging out, going to this place for organic vegan breakfasts and just hanging out together."
It seems, like everybody else here at the PCA, girls really do just wanna have fun. Oh yeah, and win money: there's $8,902 on offer for the winner of this two-day tournament. Unfortunately de Melo won't be shipping it, as she busted out on Day 1.
I last saw her strolling over to the $2,200 6-Max tourney, looking for more fun.
Follow all the action from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure on PokerStars Blog. Everything from the Main Event is on the Main Event page, High Roller live updates are here, and the live stream is on this PCA Live webcast.
Adam Hampton is a copywriter for PokerStars