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Women At The World Series: Samantha Bazan

Twenty-Five-Year-Old Bartender Doing Well At First WSOP


Card Player’s 2014 WSOP coverage is sponsored by CarbonPoker.

Samantha Bazan, a 25-year-old bartender from San Diego, was playing in the $1,500 no-limit hold‘em tournament on Sunday at the 2014 WSOP. While she’s still relatively new to the game, Bazan’s calm, collected attitude has helped her thus far at her first ever WSOP.

With a natural knack for poker and occasional pointers from a friend, Bazan is playing consistently and was one of the big stacks in the room with less than 100 people left in the $1,500 event at around 5 p.m. local time. She, like everyone else, was chasing a $514,027 top prize.

Women have been doing well at the WSOP in recent years. Since 2012, women have made 25 final tables. Bazan was hoping to be the next one to do so.

Card Player had the chance to speak with Bazan during a break in play to discuss her poker background, as well as how she has managed to go deep in the 19th event of the Series.

Elaina Sauber: How are things going so far in the tournament?

Samantha Bazan: I don’t know why, but it just seems really easy (laughs). I’ve played in a lot of tournaments where I’m like, ‘Gosh, I just can’t catch a card,’ but just this time, I’ve been running good the whole time. This is my first [WSOP] ever.

ES: When did you first learn to play poker?

SB: I kind of have a couple people that I talk to. I started bartending in a card room—Lucky Lady Card Room. I started bartending there, and some people would come in and talk about playing poker and stuff, so I got kind of interested in it. Before I sat down at a table, I played an app on my phone until I got comfortable enough, then I sat down at a limit table, then I sat down at a no-limit table, and then I realized it was coming to me really naturally.

ES: How long have you been playing, then?

SB: I’ve only been playing poker for a year. I’ve only been playing tournaments for six months. I started playing limit, I played it twice. And then I played no-limit for about five months. I’ve been playing tournaments for about six months. Basically, the main person, Ken Morey, was the one who taught me. Anytime I have a question, I text or call him.

ES: Do you play full-time now, or do you have another job as well?

SB: No, I still bartend at the Lady. I’m not a professional [player]. There are so many levels to poker, even though I’m running so deep in this—and I think I was chip leader for a second there. But there are so many levels, and it really depends on who you’re playing against, and who’s at your table, and what cards you get. I mean, a lot of it is skill, because you can play against the people more than just your cards. But it can be different every time.

ES: What did your family say when you told them you were going to the WSOP this year?

SB: It’s so crazy—ever since I started playing, they’ve been extremely supportive, and I always thought they’d be like, ‘Don’t spend your money on gambling, what are you doing?’ But for some reason, every single one of them has been so supportive.

ES: How would you describe your technique?

SB: I think I had ace-king probably 30 times since I’ve been playing. I’m not joking—I’ve knocked about four or five people off with ace-king. So, my cards have been great. How I play, it really depends on who I’m playing against. I can’t even say I’m tight or aggressive—it depends on who’s sitting next to me, who’s to my left and who’s to my right.

ES: Have you encountered obstacles as a female poker player in such a male-dominated industry?

SB: Not at all, it’s never worried me. Actually, I feel like they’re nicer to me. In smaller tournaments, people kind of root for me. Like, if I end up all-in, and someone else ends up all-in, they, like, hope for my card to come up. They’ll be like, ‘Oh, come on, jack, jack,’ you know what I mean? In this [tournament], I’m sure they all hope that they take my chips—it’s a little more serious. But in smaller ones, that’s kind of how it goes.

ES: So you don’t feel like they treat you any differently in a negative way?

SB: The only bad way is that many women players I noticed, because I’ve played against some, are either overly aggressive or overly tight. It’s really easy to catch them if they’re too aggressive; if they’re too tight, you can scare them off. So, a lot of male players will play against me like that—and then they’ll see I’m not kidding. I’m not afraid to call, I’m not afraid to shove. And then after that, they’ll start respecting me, once I start taking some of their chips. I start seeing the respect more when I start taking chips from people. Every time I scoop a big pot, they all smile, so I think it’s OK.

ES: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten from another poker player?

SB: Wait for your hand. You can sit there and play one hand in an hour. When you get bored, or you get tired, or it’s late, and you just get crazy and start playing stuff you know you shouldn’t out of position, that’s when you get in the worst spot.

ES: What advice would you give to other women trying to seriously pursue playing poker?

SB: Don’t be intimidated. In my head, I place myself at any other tournament. I know it’s a World Series event; I know a lot of people who work really hard to get here. If you just walk in and pretend it’s like any other game, then you’re not so scared—you don’t play scared. Right now, I think I’m going to sit back because I have so many chips, and watch some people slaughter each other.

For more coverage from the 2014 summer Series, visit our WSOP landing page.

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almost 7 years ago

Easy come easy go I will be back for round two later in the month.=)