First Summer Playing Poker Full Time

Yeah, so that didn’t quite turn out how I hoped it would.

When I quit PokerNews, I had visions of winning tourneys, crushing cash games, and just getting to be the awesome poker player I’ve always known I am! I was gonna show everyone who ever doubted me WASSUP! And theeeeen, I laid a big egg.

My plan was to play cash games and small tournaments throughout May to get ready for the WSOP grind. I sort of did that. I played a few hours and a couple tourneys which I did well in. I cashed in two of three, and my husband posted this: 

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The first tournament he was talking about was a $600 Venetian Deepstack, and the second was a Rio nightly $180. I didn’t grind as much as I wanted to in May, but I was feeling good. 

At the end of May month, both my little sisters came into town. Lindsey, 21, came to live with me for the next month and a half to work for All American Dave. (So If you were at the Rio this summer, you probably saw her prancing around delivering food!). My youngest sister, Olivia, 19, came to visit for three weeks. They are two of the most important people in my life, and we hadn’t spent real quality time with each other in over 10 years. So, I made a choice, and poker took a backseat. I rarely played while both of them were in town. The time we spent together was priceless, and I wouldn’t change a thing - 

(Our own awesomeness surprised Lindsey haha)

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Now, my pipe-dream plan was to bink something at the beginning of the summer so I could play events on my own roll. Not only did that not happen, but I had also been spending a decent amount of money on my sisters while also not making any because I wasn’t playing. If I wanted to take a shot at some tournaments, I was going to have to put together a package.

By this time, it was near the end of June. I searched the rest of the schedule for the softest, big field, no-limit tournaments left and put them on the schedule. The package consisted of 8 events, anda total of about $20K in buy-ins, including the WSOP Main Event. I was nervous to put it online because I’d never done anything of this magnitude before. I sold out in a little over an hour. It felt so good to know that people believe in me and that even a couple of my biggest poker heroes wanted to invest. I was beyond pumped to play! I was giving myself a shot to realize a dream of mine.

10501950_648526275238761_550344958837743787_nHere is what I played: 

Venetian $400K Guarantee Day 1c$1,100 WSOP Monster Stack$1,500 WSOP Ladies Event$1,000 Venetian Event$600 WSOP Main Event Day 1c$10,000 Venetian $800K Gaurantee$1,100 Wynn $300K Gaurantee$1,600

The first few events four events, leading up to the Main Event, I felt like I played extremely well. In the two Venetians and the Monster stack, I was comfortable, aggressive, and reading hands better than I ever had. Nothing materialized though— either from tough hands, getting unlucky or being spot/card dead. I will admit though that I made a fair amount of mistakes during the Ladies event. I made decisions too quickly and got caught not paying enough attention a few times. As the day was ending though, I recognized my mistakes and swore I’d keep myself in check on Day 2. But then I ended up busting the last level AIPF with AQ vs AJ.

Then the Main Event came along. I could not have been more ready to play. I was rested, energized, and focused. I promised myself that NO ONE at my table was going to pay more attention than me. I was in the zone, and Day 1c went perfectly. I accumulated by bluffing capped ranges and value betting the shit out of my hands. I ended with about 75K.

When I sat at my table on Day 2, I was very happy with my table draw. But as the hours went on, I had trouble getting traction. I was missing a ton and my timing sucked. I wasn’t worried because I was still so deep. I was at about 45,000 in chips when the following hand came up.

Early position raises to 1300 with blinds at 300-600. My girl Xuan Liu calls in late position, small blind calls, and I call in the big blind with 77. Flop J75 rainbow. Checks to Xuan, she bets 2400. I call. Original raise goes all in for 22kish. She calls. I taaaaaaaank call. Turn 8. I check, she ships I fold. She has JJ and he has double gutter with 89 off. He gets there too. After that, I was left with 24k. Lots of people commended me on making such a tough fold. I don’t see any other way I could have played it. The two most likely hands Xuan can have here are JJ or 55. Since Xuan flatted pre and didn’t seem like she really considered three-betting (she prob did but is so good she disguised it), I thought it was more likely she had 55. I don’t think folding middle set on the flop here is a good idea. After I over flat the ship and check to her, she would NEVER shove with anything worse than JJ because my hand is so face up. That’d be some next level crazy ass shit to try and get me to fold a better hand. So, that’s why I let it go. Now, in a cash game, of course I go broke. In the Main Event, I can go with my read and fold.

Unfortunately for me, there was no fairytale ending to that good fold. I fought tooth and nail with my 30bb stack, shoving over raises, and playing small pots. In the end though, I busted the last level of the night shoving a shortstack with A10 in the cutoff and getting called by AQ in the SB. Then I went straight to McDonalds (which I haven't been to in four years) and shoved my face with ice cream and french fries #dietcoketho #lolthatshitispoisentoo

I allowed myself a couple hours that night to feel sorry for myself but as soon as I woke up, I thought about all the things I’m grateful for — family, friends, health, love. I know that it can seem a bit cheesy to say that I needed to consciously shift out of a mellow dramatic state after busting a tournament, but until you play for a living, invest your time, money and heart in the best, biggest event of the year, you don’t know how it feels so LAY OFF. :)

In the original package I put together, I had only one more event left. It was an $1,100 buy-in, $800K guarantee at Venetian. I skipped a couple of tournaments, including the WPT500 to rest during the Main Event, with buy-ins adding up to $2K, so my plan was to just refund investors the money if I busted. I went into my last hoorah with vengeance. I played so good and even had to deal Ami Barer, the 2014 Aussie Millions Main Event winner, sitting to my left. I went into Day 2 with a just-below average stack and we were only about 35 people away from the money. Since it was such a giant field, $300K was the top prize. I could taste it!

First shuffle - AQdd. I minraise in middle/early. Person to my left shoves. I call. AJhh. Yessss. Jack in the door. NOooooo. I’m down to 11 bb. Few hands later, cutoff min opens, I jam with A10, they have AQ. Noooooooo. And just like that, I was out.

I was utterly dejected. I snap messaged my investors telling them that I’d be refunding the unused buy-ins. Their immediate reaction was FIRE AGAIN! The next day was a $1600 tournament at the Wynn. I wasn’t sure if my heart was in it, but the field looked great. I played a bit too aggro and spewy for a such a soft field in an Allen Kessler-approved structured tournament and went out before dinner break. Ughhh. (And I still owe my investors a $400 tourney sweat!)

And during this time of grinding tournaments, I played zero cash. Financially, the summer was pretty terrible. I also realized that much of the pain I experienced was from shame. I was embarrassed I didn’t prove myself. I was sad people invested in me and I didn’t make them money. I didn’t show everyone I could do it!!!!!!  

It took a few days for me to really step back, and look at my summer realistically. I didn’t cash in seven tournaments in a row, that’s it. That happens all the time to the best of them. If I would have won one, would that have proved or shown people I could make it? Not really. I took a risk, and I lost. 

Leading up to the summer, I’d had a pretty tumultuous year in my personal life. It was why I wasn’t scared quitting my job and also why I haven’t posted any blogs in over a year. Nothing triggers publishing fear like vulnerability. But that’s changing and I plan to tell all so stay tuned. The reason I say this though is that I’ve begun to accrue wisdom and have a deeper understanding of who I am. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I have previously based much of my self worth and definition of success as a human on tangible achievements.

I need recognize growth that comes with failure and lessons learned along the journey.

I am twice the poker player I was before this summer, and I am excited about that. I just wanted write about it candidly for those who are interested. In life, we should always take full responsibility. I haven't worked as hard as some players who crushed it, I haven't played as many hours, I have talked as much poker as I could with friends. It's so easy to want something for nothing, but that's usually not how it goes. I'm pretty excited about WSOP 2015 though :) 


For now, I’m going to go back to grinding live cash games here in Vegas like I have for the past eight years and dedicate time to continued learning. I planned on playing the $25-$50 game again on Poker Night in America at Maryland Live! at the end of the month, but unless I can find someone to stake me, I’m going to sit this one out until I can regrind!

But man, I had such an incredible time doing PNIA the first time at Turning Stone. I screeched at the poker table when I saw it on CBSSports. If you haven’t gotten to catch the first few episodes, here is the pilot - 

Poker Night in America - Pilot from Poker Night in America on Vimeo.

Thanks for all of your support this summer. Every tweet of encouragement and sweat on FB feeds my heart. Love you guys. 

***Oh and hope you like the new site. From now on, all blogs will be here. I’m going to kill eventually. :)