It is no secret that I love ladies poker tournaments. LOVE them. I know people smirk and I know people judge, but I genuinely have a great time every time I take part in one of these and, for some reason, I find myself playing better poker in these tournaments than anywhere else.
I am normally not good at getting reads on people, but when I play ladies events, I find myself getting better and better at using body language to figure out where I am at. I also find it easier to trust my reads and pull the trigger at the right time.
In other words, I just feel more comfortable there than anywhere else I play poker.
So, I jumped at the chance to play in the Hollywood Poker Open Ladies Event at Hollywood Casino in Indiana. Ladies events in this area is where I first learned to play tournaments and I was excited to get back. It was great to see people and I even ended up at a starting table with my friend Jamie and we got to catch up.
I was amazed how many women I recognized from ladies events from 4-5 years ago. I was even more amazed to see that with just one or two exceptions, they all play exactly the same. No growth, no development.
At first I was irritated and I thought about people who hate ladies events and wondered if they were right. Are these ladies events a safety net that has segregated these women fro pushing the bounds of their game and getting better?
The more I played, the more women I met, and the more stories I heard. Eventually, it dawned on me that these women weren’t going to come to the casino at all if it weren’t for these ladies events. Sure, they aren’t getting better, but they have a ball on the rare occasion they play. And they don’t need to be good at poker. They just need to enjoy themselves when they play. If paying in women-only fields is the way to do that, then more power to them.
As for me? I ended up taking second despite having an absolutely massive chip lead with five players left. Where did I go wrong, you ask? Nowhere in particular, honestly. Here is what happened:
With five players left, I had a pretty big lead. I was sitting on around 530,000 while my next closest competitor had 175,000. Everyone else was at 120,000 or less and blinds were at 5,000/10,000 ante 1,500.
In other words, everyone was getting in desperation mode and I was fine. Despite that fact, I wasn’t being super abusive with my stack, only opening maybe once an orbit. Every hand I showed down was a premium one and, from what I could tell, my image was right where it needed to be. The woman with 175,000 seemed to be a bit clueless, but she did have one thing figured out–how to three-bet. She would reraise with any hand she liked and rarely just call raises.
I had gotten to the point where, barring a steal or two, I really wasn’t opening anything I wasn’t willing to call an all-in with since everyone was just so short. I made it 25,000 to play with 55 and it folded to the 3-bet machine in the big blind. and she 3-bet, making it 60,000.
I was a little perplexed, as this woman didn’t seem advanced enough to know about clicking it back and trying to induce a shove. After a minute of deliberation, I decided she didn’t have a great hand and she was just trying to take the pot down. I also thought she would ignore how much of her stack was in, because she would still be 2nd or 3rd in chips if she folded and there were two players with less than five big blinds.
I moved all-in and she snapped it off instantly. Thinking I had run into aces or kings, I begrudgingly turned over my hand. Much to my surprise, she had A10o. I spent a long time thinking about this hand and I truly can’t fathom why she played it this way. With my limited play and track record at the table, she has to think she is lucky to be flipping with A10. Maybe I am giving her too much credit. Maybe she was just one of those players who didn’t want to learn.
She hit a ten and, thanks to my understanding of stack sizes, I was able to chip back up without a showdown. By three-handed play, two of us were down to ten big blinds though, as Lil Miss 3-bet literally picked up aces once an orbit.. I doubled up when I had kings against the 3rd place finisher’s jacks. Heads-up I lost the 40/60 I needed to win to keep in the game.
So I got second and banked $3,800. it was the largest score I’ve ever had and, more importantly, it was a moral victory. After the vicious yet playful drubbing by my friends about an eight-way chop at the NAPT LA Ladies Event, I managed to persevere through my least favorite part of ladies events–chop talk. I shut people down politely, yet firmly. I played it out to a winner, and, most importantly, I had enough faith in my ability to trust that I could win the whole thing.