I fell in love with poker the first time I played it 6 years ago. My boyfriend at the time lived for the Blackjack tables. So one night, he took me to the Borgata in Atlantic City and sat me down with $50 at a $2/$4 Limit Hold'em game. I knew nothing. I was a complete tourist, right down to not knowing what blinds were, whether a straight beat a flush, or what the different color chips meant. But as I played that night, something drew me in.
The initial seed was planted.
I immediately felt myself thirsting for more. Not just more trips down to AC, but more knowledge. I went to the book store and bought my first poker book, which was Phil Helmuth's, "Play Poker Like the Pros." His book broke poker down into its simplest form...baby steps...and lay a solid beginning foundation for me. Reading his book ignited the initial spark of what would become a voracious pursuit of poker knowledge. I started playing $4/$8 Limit Hold'em at the Tropicana...and every time I was there, I couldn't help but peer into the NL room. I was the fish peering through the glass at all the sharks...scared out of my mind at what I would experience if I ever ventured in there, but curious just the same.
Then the day came, where I got my first taste of No Limit. I showed up on a super busy Saturday, and the list for $4/$8 was two pages long. A floor guy at the Tropicana who had gotten to know me well over the past few months told me to jump into the empty $1/$2 NL seat. He said there wasn't a big difference (riiiiiiiiiight)...and that I could just sit and play tight, and to just peddle the nuts, and if I hate it, to never play it again....
I looked into the room, and there wasn't a single girl in there...wimper :/
But I had grown up a tomboy, competing in all sorts of co-ed sports leagues from soccer, to ping-pong, to tennis, to softball, to basketball. I just told myself there was no difference...poker was a sport, and if I wanted to ever have a chance at being a great poker player, I had to just throw myself into the mix.
So into the shark tank I went...externally cool...internally flailing.
I remember my first session of NL like it was yesterday. I remember all the faces, including that of the waitress and the first dealer. I don't know what the hell got into me that day, but I found myself with all my chips in the middle of the table, on a complete bluff.
I had been dealt AsKs in late position. Player in early position raised it to $10, and I flat called. The flop came down 7s 4s 3h.
The young kid fired out $15, and I smooth called behind with my nut flush draw and two overs.
Turn came an offsuit ten. He fired again, this time betting $35, and I again flat called. (sigh*)
The river came a 10h.
The board was 7s 4s 3h 10d 10h
Ace high any good?
So as I'm about to muck the hand, the kid checks the river.
OMG! I still have no idea what came over me in that moment. I was 30min into playing my first NL cash game, but I knew I only had one shot to win that pot...turns out the first time I ever went "all-in" was also the first time I bluffed. I didn't touch my chips...I had $65 behind...I remember, cuz the kid asked me how much...and then he went into the tank...and he thought about it no longer than a min...I was sooooo nervous...My heart was racing, I was sitting on my hands, so he wouldn't see them shake, I was trying to seem nonchalant, I was praying with every last ounce of me that he would fold...only to hear him say, "I call."
I turned over my Ace high, and he showed pocket pair 99s to win the pot.
As he stacked his chips, he said "gutsy play, I almost folded."
I remember in that moment, not even caring that he had called. I was overly pumped that I had it in me to bluff...I was overly pumped that the kid, (who I later found out was a really talented tournament player named Joey) , was able to put such an accurate read on the hand. I was overly pumped, because I knew I could do it, and that my fish status wouldn't be permanent.
Needless to say, I never played Limit Hold em at the Tropicana again.
I was sold...hook, line, and sinker.
I bought a ton of books.
I ordered those nerdy poker DVDs from Ebay with Johnny Chan and Helmuth and others.
I eavesdropped on every poker conversation I could when I was at the tables.
I watched every hand as it was played out.
I used to even simulate a live cash game with myself. I would sit on my living room floor and deal out 6 open hands, and pretend I was all 6 people individually...and then play it out...against myself x 6 ...lol (call the geek squad)
It became an obsession...
My passion for poker started creating a rift between my boyfriend and I. He was not happy, and expressed to me how he wished he had never taken me to the borgata. I was confused as to how it was okay for him to go blow thousands on blackjack bets, but I was off track for wanting to learn a game rooted in skill. He gave me the whole girls don't play poker speech, that I would never be taken seriously, and he wasn't going to encourage or support this new obsession of mine. My efforts to convince him failed. So did my idea of learning the game together. He wasn't going to budge...leaving me to make a decision between poker and him. I'm sure you can figure out what choice I made.
The initial seed that was planted that night 6 years ago at the Borgata, has since grown into a flourishing tree..branching off in different directions. My intial curiosity and interest has exploded into a professional career, filled with its share of trumphs and defeats. My hands no longer shake when I bluff, and Joey now knows my first name. I know the red chips in most casinos are worth $5 and my ex-boyfriend emailed me 2 years ago when he stumbled across my blog, asking for a second chance. The answer was No.
My life's dreams and purpose don't begin or end with poker, however this vehicle I am travelling in will take me to my destination where those dreams can be fulfilled.
With Confidence under one wing; Passion beneath the other...lifted by the gentle breeze of Dedication...who knows how high I can soar...or, any of us for that matter.