Saint Louis to Jerusalem & a New Role at Stars April 24, 2014Posted by Administrator in : chess,feminism,poker,travel , add a comment
My first official tournament representing PokerStars was the World Series of Poker circuit Main event in Saint Louis (which I did not win). I played in that immediately after a two-week stint giving lectures at the Saint Louis Chess Club and the World Chess Hall of Fame. Brian Jerauld at the Chess Club wrote this sweet piece on my visit and the connections between chess, poker and PokerStars support of chess, including nine years of PokerStars sponsorship of the US Chess League.
Right after Saint Louis, I traveled to Israel, where I am now, playing on the Pokerstars client for the first time since PCA. As lucky as I feel lately, I can’t help but feel a twinge of regret when playing a limited number of Sundays here. As I soak up so much playing just a few tables at a time, I realize how much stronger a poker player I’d be now if not for Black Friday. Part of me knows it’s futile to predict such things. Maybe I wouldn’t have taken up Open Face Chinese Poker in that case, for which I now do videos on Run It Once. Or maybe I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people, leading to a lot of the opportunities I have now. I certainly wouldn’t have played as much live poker, and I better appreciate some of the specific skills required in that arena.
And yet it still pains my ego to know that I’d understand the game better if not for Black Friday. In the future, I need to schedule more trips to grind online, and focus less on the excitement of live stops. That being said, see you all in Vegas
On a positive note, I’ve done a lot of other fun interviews on chess, poker and making both games more popular.
1. I was on one of my favorite poker authors, Jared Tendler’s podcast. We talked about the “Mental Game” in both chess and poker, why Magnus Carlsen has a mental game coach and whether there is tilt in chess.
3. Some questions you just can’t prepare for. In this fun interview with a popular Spanish YouTube chess channel, they asked me if I’d rather play Strip Chess with Magnus Carlsen or Chess Boxing with (the infamous) Borislav Ivanov!
4. I was recently on the Twoplustwo pokercast. The hosts Michael and Adam have such great chemistry. They also just interviewed the first two-time EPT Champion, PokerStars Pro Vicky Coren. It’s exciting that a woman and an accomplished writer is the first to achieve this milestone. I’ve played with Coren a few times and her humor and charm comes out in person just as on the page.
5. I really enjoyed doing this two part interview with Poker News Daily from a few months ago- they did a flattering amount of research into my career.
I was reminded of the last two pieces when reading this controversial piece, quoting Selbst, Stone, Danielle Moon-Anderson, Kara Scott and several other female pros.
Around 80% of the time I have a better time at the tables, because I get more attention as one of few women in the game. 20% of the time my experience may be particularly negative because I’m female. This polarization can apply to a woman’s image at the table- play a hand poorly, you’re probably a whale, pull off a well-timed and calculated bluff, you may be the next Vanessa Selbst.
So overall, it’s a net positive for me, but as a writer, I can’t help but highlight the hilarious examples of poor behavior (as I explain in this Bluff video). Things like this just aren’t quite as funny:
— Jennifer Shahade (@JenShahade) March 7, 2014
Guy to my right: "I hope they take a pic of us for the blog so I can lie to my friends that I hooked up w. you. Not that you look slutty."
— Jennifer Shahade (@JenShahade) November 24, 2013
The more involved I become in the poker culture the less my own experiences are relevant to women starting out. More people recognize me at the table and tend to be nicer to me as a result. Poker is a global game, and picking up the game may present very different challenges for women in other situations and countries.
The comment plug in isn’t working here so hit me up on twitter or email. I’ve also been far more active on instagram lately, especially because Jerusalem provides such a photogenic backdrop for sunsets, food porn and selfies.
Watch my TED Talk! March 4, 2014Posted by Administrator in : chess,poker,video , add a comment
PCA & TED X: Bahamas to Baltimore February 4, 2014Posted by Administrator in : chess,poker,travel , add a comment
2014 began with my yearly trip to the Bahamas for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. A couple weeks before the event, I decided to play in the Main Event, rather than focus on my favorite new game, Open Face Pineapple. The PCA Main was technically my highest buyin ever, $300 more than the World Series of Poker Main.
In my PokerStars blog “Count His Stack First”, I wrote about my experience of going super deep in the event, ultimately coming in 31st place for 43,000.
Immediately after returning from the PCA, I headed to Saint Louis for some chess classes and promotion of the Queen Within (see a good video piece on it here).
Then it was time to cure my glossophobia forever; Ted X Baltimore! I spoke to a crowd of about 1000 on chess, decision trees and poker. I’ll post the video here when it lands on TED X. For now, you can find it at the livestream link. (Stream A, 49:10). Thanks to Gretchen and Mike of Code-in-the-Schools for connecting me with the opportunity.
A Perfect Trip, A Queen Within & Philly on Chess November 10, 2013Posted by Administrator in : art,chess,feminism,poker,travel,video , add a comment
Last time I updated you here, I was on my way to Vegas for a panel at G2E, the largest gaming conference in the World, and Rosarito, Mexico for WCOOP, the World Championship of Online Poker.
It was one of my favorite trips in a while, as I got to play online, catch up with close friends and enjoy all the perks of a legit vacation, from clubbing at Hakkasan in Vegas to a wine tour in Mexico.
I wrote more about Mexico in my piece, “Vegas to Rosarito: Goodbye Kitty”, where I concluded, “I could get used to this quiet resort town, now a bit louder with the big personalities of so many young poker players. I was so relaxed that I could see things more clearly and felt more sympathetic and less judgmental.”
Next I went to my second home Saint Louis, the capital of chess in the US.
The spectacular “A Queen Within” show opened last month at the World Chess Hall of Fame.
The fantastical installation above featuring designs by Hideki Seo represents the “Explorer”, one of nine archetypes of the queen explored (!) in the show. Photos don’t do it justice so see it in person.
I was auctioned off at the Queen’s Gala (lessons with me that is!), and I promoted the idea of “Queen Power” in chess through girls simuls and lectures.
I was also in a panel discussion on fashion, art and chess, along with “A Queen Within” curator, Sofia K. Hedman and several other brainy fashionistas.
I stayed on to give lectures at the club, all archived on YouTube. I did a series on previous Carlsen-Anand games in honor of the World Championship as well as my favorite, a lecture on problems and beauty in chess.
Now I’m back in Philadelphia and excited to play my first live poker since August at the Borgata. I’m also pumped for the Carlsen-Anand World Chess Championship. We just filmed this video of Philly predicting the outcome.
I’m working on some technical problems with blog post comments, so until then, hit me up on twitter!
Fantasyland: Three Nights in Vegas, Four Days in Mexico September 22, 2013Posted by Administrator in : art,feminism,poker,travel,video , add a comment
Our latest PokerFairyTale video stars Katie Stone, founder of the Grindettes and Melissa Burr, high stakes mixed game and Open Face player.
When you get to fantasyland in Open Face Poker (find the rules to OFC here), you get to see all your cards (or see into the future), so we posted two versions, one in which the visuals are backwards and the other in which the sound is backwards.
The first thing I tried to work out in Open Face is the math behind risking fouls for fantasyland. In simplified terms, if two lucky things have to happen for you to go to Fantasyland, it’s often worth it. Three lucky things is too much. Daniel and I made these videos partly because we feel the role of luck in determining your success is understated, especially in fields outside poker. And often you can make a series of well-calculated risks without reward. The rich get richer and in Open Face, those running well tend to play better (especially in Fantasyland, ofc) than those who are buried. Malcolm Gladwell popularized this idea of “The Matthew Effect” in Outliers.
The video contrasts the perceived glamour of live poker, which can be more of a grind (represented here by the founding Grindette who relocated to Mexico to play online), than sitting in any living room or hotel to play a beloved game. Two and a half years after Black Friday, I still feel a gaping hole that PokerStars used to fill. Bovada is profitable but not the same.
After this summer, I unabashedly call Las Vegas one of my favorite places. I return for the biggest gaming conference in the World, G2E. I’m on a panel with One Drop champion Antonio Esfandiari, November-niner Jay Farber, Parx ambassador Matt Glantz and moderator Marco Valerio. We’ll talk about online and live poker from a players’ perspective.
In a beautiful twist of timing, I’ll head to Mexico for the final weekend of the World Championship of Online Poker (Hello again PokerStars!). Three nights in Vegas, four days in Mexico, very much on purpose.
Highs and Lows in Seminole & Sinquefield Cup September 18, 2013Posted by Administrator in : chess,poker,travel , add a comment
In August, I played the 10M guaranteed at the Seminole Hard Rock in Fort Lauderdale and placed 63rd out of 2300 players for a 29,088 cash. The success came at a funny time. Going into the tournament, I was questioning the entire trip. I felt bad that I didn’t know much about open face pineapple, when my intention was to play a lot of OFC in Florida. I made a few major errors in butter soft satellites to the Main and came up empty.
I recounted on twitter a few funny Floridian encounters, two amusing and one truly scary.
Guy at pool: "I don't mean to brag but I'm really good at poker…but only for the first thirty minutes."
— Jennifer Shahade (@JenShahade) August 26, 2013
Guy in cash game tells Tbl: "pregnant woman are so beautiful and sexy" then asks me, "does that make me sound sensitive?" #4b
— Jennifer Shahade (@JenShahade) August 28, 2013
Regging @SHRHollywood Main & guy in line says: "You're pretty hot for a cardplayer" then "Have you been sexually assaulted lately?"
— Jennifer Shahade (@JenShahade) August 24, 2013
After the last one, I rushed back to my room and reported the incident to the hotel. I regretted not saying something immediately to a security officer, just so that the guy (who was not a poker player) would be publicly shamed and potentially kicked out. Never use that line guys!
My starting table was far softer than any WSOP Main Event table I’ve ever played at. Since it was the second highest buy-in I’d played in (5K), this made me happy about my choice to sell for and play it. Though the field naturally toughened as levels progressed, I was even happier after winning a few bucks for myself and my investors.
I came home excited about poker, but immediately focused on the next gig, commentary for the Sinquefield Cup. In this TV interview for “Show Me Saint Louis”, I explain why the tournament was so ground-breaking.
As a member of the organizing team, it was thrilling when World #1 Magnus Carlsen agreed to play, his first major event in the United States. And now it was real.
A particularly memorable moment, from our Friday the 13th show.
Unlike previous shows, my wardrobe shifted from business attire to a more stylish, fun look, which was fitting since my next trip to Saint Louis will be for a celebration of chess and fashion, “the Queen Within.”
In the final round of the Sinquefield Cup, the champion Magnus Carlsen fought on despite a draw offer which would clinch him first place and the $70,000 first prize. He ended up winning the game, and inspiring tens of thousands of fans, including me.
— Jennifer Shahade (@JenShahade) September 15, 2013
In addition to anticipating Magnus’s World Championship match vs. Anand in November, I also look forward to the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, which founder Rex Sinquefield alluded to in his final interview with GM Maurice Ashley.
Summer End Times: Wisconsin, Florida, Missouri July 31, 2013Posted by Administrator in : chess,poker,travel , add a comment
Hello from Madison, site of this year’s US Open! The photo is from the awards ceremony of the 1st NGIT, where all the class winners won a copy of Play Like a Girl. In other book news, Chess Bitch is now available on the Kindle.
I’m finally starting to recuperate from the intensity of Vegas and the inevitable reflection. I wrote one of my most personal pieces last year, on time & poker immediately after returning from the WSOP.
This year, I combined my latest passion, Open Face Chinese Poker (OFCP) with a slightly more relaxed tournament schedule. If I busted a tournament on the early side, it was nice to be able to get right back into mental gymnastics with Open Face cash. Conversely, the intense focus that Open Face required motivated me to try to approximate that in the big tournaments I was playing, rather than succumb to bad habits, like constantly checking twitter when not involved in a hand…or my Open Face app games.
My next poker stop will be the $5300 buyin 10 Million Guaranteed at the Seminole Hard Rock. I’ve heard such great things about Florida poker and this will be my first chance to experience it first hand. I only intend to fire a single bullet, though I will come earlier to catch some cash action. I’ve sold about 40% of this tournament and would like to sell an additional
">20% 0% in increments of 2.5% (320 for 5%, 160 for 2.5%) Please contact me if you’re interested!
In September, I’m headed to the 1st Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis. This is Magnus Carlsen’s first event in the US and likely his final event before he faces Vishy Anand for the World Championship. The ground-breaking tournament already has its own Wikipedia page. As a member of the organizing committee, I’m thrilled about the way it’s come together.
Follow me on twitter for all the latest.
Missing Vegas Already, in Photos July 17, 2013Posted by Administrator in : art,poker,travel,Uncategorized , add a comment
I fell in love with Vegas harder this year and felt emotional leaving after weeks in town, when I was supposed to be tired of it. I’ll miss the soft desert light and the random conversations with brilliant strangers and friends. My first piece on the WSOP, about Open Face action & strategy is up on the PokerStars blog. And now for some visuals:
The no-frills Riviera Hotel was the site of the 2013 National Open, where we interviewed Amanda Mateer, among others, for USChess.
Daniel and I also shot a video for Poker Fairy Tale featuring Katie Stone, founder of the Grindettes and highstakes mixed game pro Melissa Burr. Some stills from the day:
Melissa inspired me to become more serious about Open Face Poker, so it was a trip highlight to leave the Aria Open Face tournament with her triumphantly. We chopped the marathon overnight affair along with a few others.
Unfortunately, the WSOP Open Face tournament did not go as well.
Lucky enough to play the main event, not lucky enough to call busting it the worst day of my year!
— Jennifer Shahade (@JenShahade) July 11, 2013
A few more happy photos from Vegas:
No Longer Afraid of Turbulence May 24, 2013Posted by Administrator in : Uncategorized , add a comment
I expected this mother’s day to be hard, but I calmly deleted dozens of FTD emails that came to my email box and smiled when I saw my beautiful mother’s face popping up on a facebook reminder to “buy her a gift.”
Considering how close I was with my mom, I was shocked by how little pain I felt after her death this January, and by how easily I was able to return to normal life, work and fun.
She would have wanted it that way. More than anyone I ever met, my mother detested funerals and other formal events like graduations. Though she was not rich, she would rather cut a check for the expenses of a funeral for a friend in need than to formally confront a subject that she felt made life less fun: dying.
My mom was so good at life, she didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about death. I’m a bit more morbid. Here are some of the surprising things I learned about myself, life, love and death through her sudden and premature departure.
1. Death gave me a chance to feel Love is Not Linear: Time is linear, but love is not. When my mother died, I cried myself to sleep that night and couldn’t get out of bed the next morning. I thought it may be like that for weeks. The next day I leaped out of bed, rather to attack the mountain of work that comes with the death of a loved one. In the weeks that came, I tried to figure out why a daughter so close to her mom could start smiling, eating, giving chess lectures, playing poker, drinking with friends so quickly. I realized that as cheesy as it sounds, I hadn’t really lost a mother. I still had a great mom, I just couldn’t call her anymore.
2. Atheism Didn’t Hurt Me: I thought the optimistic line of thought described above was reserved for the religious, who may believe that they’ll actually get a chance to see the departed again. I identify as Jewish but don’t really believe in god and do not think I will ever be able to hug or see my mom again, except in dreams. And yet I still felt immediate solace that she lingers on in her work- she was one of the first female chemistry professors at Drexel University, and founded a program to bring cutting edge science equipment to under-funded Philadelphia schools. Mom was always so devoted to gender and racial equality and I love this drawing, which a student drew after one of her grand displays of chemistry experiments to schoolchildren.
Her friends and family will always remember her “open door policy”, her seemingly boundless generosity and her passion for sports and cooking.
I felt like a different person right after her death and I think I instantly became more like her. At least the guests at her wake said my rendition of her coconut custard pie tasted more like something Sally would make than my own notorious cooking.
3. I’m no Longer Afraid of Dying, Especially on Planes: My mom hated flying and always wanted me to call her after landing. A couple months after her death, I was on a particularly turbulent flight and realized that I was far less afraid of dying than before, both on that plane and in general. One of my biggest nightmares before mom’s death was perishing in some freak accident and then imagining my mother finding out about it. No longer a problem! This may sound twisted & morbid (sorry dad!), but this lighter feeling is not all bad.
4. I’m lucky have Greg: It’s great if you have the same thoughts on death, money, property and other related issues as your siblings. Since that’s nearly impossible, it’s good to get along so that when disagreements arise, you can deal without resentment and with love. I was never more grateful for my friendship with my brother than after the death of my mother. My dad was also great- we were all so proud to see over a hundred girls participate in the Dr. Sally Solomon Memorial chess tournament held at Drexel this April.
5. I’ll Say Something Next Time: I was so happy about the outpouring of support from friends, co-workers and family, many of whom had never met my mother. Before my mom died, I sometimes debated whether I knew someone well enough to offer condolences, and occasionally decided that approaching the subject may make the person feel uncomfortable. Now I’ll always err on the side of saying something, even if it’s just a stock “my thoughts are with you.” Most people call in the first days or send notes in the first days or weeks, so if you forget, you can be a friend to talk to when there are not as many around.
6. Small Things Didn’t Nag Me: On January 16, I was at a friend’s house just two blocks away from my mom’s place, eating sushi and catching up with my best friends’ lives. We wrapped up around 10. I thought about walking over and saying hi to Mom—she was a nightowl and always liked it when I dropped in unannounced especially when armed with leftover California rolls. I thought again. I was starting to feel a bit sick and I knew Mom had just gotten over a flu, and didn’t want to give her another bug. I went straight home.
My mom died the next day.
One of the things my mom’s death taught me was that it’s not important for everyone to “say goodbye”. I thought the sushi story would bother me for a while, but again, logic prevailed and rather than haunted, I was consoled that I lived in Philadelphia for her final years, and was able to see her so frequently.
As spring finally bloomed, the same friends I met that bitter winter night posited, this time over beers, that my life in games helped me approach the worst event of my life with optimism. There’s no sense in dwelling over a poor chess move or an untimely bluff, especially when you are in the midst of the struggle.
I think mom would have smiled to see how fully I share her belief that life is too short for formalities you don’t believe in, or to play along with grief that you don’t actually feel. I smiled rather than cried thinking of Mom this Mother’s Day and I thank her for passing on to me whatever combination of strength and serotonin made that possible.
Celebrating Five Years in Saint Louis May 21, 2013Posted by Administrator in : art,chess,travel,video , add a comment
I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Saint Louis for the fifth straight US Chess Championship in Saint Louis, all of which I’ve hosted and chaired. This year’s commentary was the most successful ever, with two dynamic sets. I got a chance to work with two of the best GMs in the business, Maurice Ashley and Yasser Seirawan. You can replay live videos from our broadcasts on uschesschamps.com/video– also look for Fox Sports Midwest coverage of the event.
Another highlight was visiting the Innovative Concept Academy (ICA) for a special event co-hosted by Hip Hop Chess Federation and the World Chess Hall of Fame merging music, martial arts and chess instruction. The ICA is a last chance school for kids who appeared in founder Judge Jimmie Edwards courtroom, in lieu of juvenile detention center. Read more about the ICA visit & STL activities on my US Chess blog and also see a report with lots of photos by Daaim Shabazz the chessdrum.
As a board member of the World Chess Hall of Fame, I’m very excited to return to Saint Louis for the “Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion & Chess.” the biggest show yet since the institution moved from Miami to Saint Louis in 2011. The first event is a preview at Christie’s on June 4, and I plan to wear another shiny chess dress.
After a quick jaunt to New York, I’m off to Vegas for the National Open and the WSOP. Follow me on twitter to stay up to date on my busy summer!