WSOP 2014: Jennifer Shahade's double-vision
At any given time in Las Vegas, you can feel confident 30-40% of the people you pass in the casino pit are seeing double. It's what leads them to the Pai Gow tables and makes people play the Don't Pass line. It usually ends in tears.
Jennifer Shahade, PokerStars' Mind Sport Ambassador, has double-vision, too, and it's what makes her the brilliant woman she is. The tears usually belong to her opponents.
At any given time, Shahade has one eye on poker and the other on chess. A chess champion and up-and-coming poker player, she keeps one hand in each game. It's turned her into a star in her own right. She travels the world playing both games and giving talks on the similar disciplines.
We had a chat with her before she sat down with her chips today.
PokerStars Blog: When you go out to the chess events, do you end up talking about poker very much?
Shahade: A lot. Chess players are fascinated with poker and always asking me about it.
PokerStars Blog: Why do you think they are so fascinated about it?
Shahade: I think they think of it as more glamorous than chess, and they've seen a lot of chess players achieve success in poker. So, it's a little bit of like a fantasy land.
PokerStars Blog: Poker has changed a lot in the last ten years. Has chess changed that much?
Shahade: Some of the similar things have happened. You don't have to be from a hotbed of chess or poker activity and you can become one of the best players in the world. That is very true in both fields. Magnus Carlsen is the number one (chess) player in the world, and he's from Norway. That's not really something that could have happened 15 years ago before computers and databases made it so easy for anybody to work really hard on their own. There's also becoming a bit more money, prestige, and glamour. It's shedding that un-cool reputation. It didn't happen as quickly as it did in poker, but I do see that gradual progress every year.
PokerStars Blog: Chess rock stars?
Shahade: Well certainly with Magnus. He's a model for G-Star Raw and a really cool kid. So, I guess that's one of the reasons it's happened, but even before that.
PokerStars Blog: How do you balance your time between the two games?
Shahade: Work all the time? (laughs) If you count playing chess and poker as working. That's kind of a good job. Generally, whenever I'm playing chess or poker, I'm still kind of involved in the other world. I'm traveling at least half the year. I'm in St. Louis a lot, because that's the chess capital in America. I like to play on PokerStars, obviously. Whenever I get a chance, I'm trying to play. I'm set up in Israel, so I have a place there. It's kind of far, so sometimes I play elsewhere.
PokerStars Blog: How has your year in poker been so far?
Shahade: The Series has been bad, but the rest of the year has been pretty good, so I'm ready for the Main. I don't feel down at all, though. I don't tend to be results-oriented, so I look at my play. Obviously I've made some bad plays. It's really important to keep your confidence up, and I feel like I've been doing pretty well with that.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging