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Women At The World Series: Cherish Andrews

Poker Pundit Discusses Challenges As A Female Player: ‘I’ve Heard It All’

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She may be off to a late start this summer, but Cherish Andrews has a knack for proving people wrong. The small-town, Pennsylvania native got her first taste of poker at age 14, when she played a home tournament with her brother’s friends; after joking about taking her money, Andrews went on to win the $700 pot—the rest is history.

Ten years and $524,988 in winnings later, Andrews has been heckled and jeered more times than she can count. Now she simply ignores her opponents’ attempts to intimidate her—but her WSOP record speaks for itself. In the four years she’s spent at the World Series, the 24-year-old poker player and nanny has cashed a total of 14 times.

Andrews made her first WSOP final table back in 2012 playing $1,500 no-limit hold’em and finished fourth, earning $210,083. Her second was clinched on Thursday, July 3, when she finished fifth in another $1,500 no-limit hold’em event, earning $142,346.

Card Player had the opportunity to speak with Andrews during a break in play on July 3—in the event she finished fifth in—to talk about her first experience playing in a casino at age 17, her feelings toward ladies events and the challenges women face on the poker front.

Elaina Sauber: How is your Series going so far?

Cherish Andrews: Well, I didn’t get out here until two weeks ago, because my sister got married. I’m just happy to be here (laughs).

ES: This is your fourth year at the WSOP—have you noticed any changes in the competition over the years?

CA: I still think I’m learning, but when you get this deep in tournaments, the competition is much harder than on day one.

ES: What would it mean for you to win a bracelet this summer?

CA: It would mean so much to me. I would give it to my dad if I won, because he would wear it, and he would be so proud.

ES: Can you talk about your experience playing in the ladies event this year?

CA: The ladies events—I like them, but I don’t play as many as other women. I know [some] women travel around for them—I just play this one and if I go to the PCA, and that’s it, so I may play three a year.

ES: Do you have a preference between ladies events and open tournaments?

CA: I prefer the open tournaments. I personally don’t think there should be such a thing as a ladies event, because I think everybody should be treated the same. Like, when people come up to me saying, ‘Oh, you’re the last woman left,’ I’m like, ‘That’s great, but I want to be the last person left.’ I kind of understand why they have [ladies events], because there are a lot of women who are intimidated to play with the guys, so I guess in a way, it’s good.

ES: I read that you first played in a casino at 17. Can you talk about that experience?

CA: Well, I started playing at home games when I was 14 with my brothers, and then when I was 17, I went with friends who were 21 to Atlantic City, we played at the Borgata, which is where I mainly play now, and Tropicana. I won a little bit—not too much, but it was my first experience. I wasn’t carded…my friends cashed my chips for me. I didn’t go back until I was of age. When I turned 18, I started going to Turning Stone in New York to play tournaments and cash games. You can play there at 18.

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

CA: Of course. I mean, there’s just a standard being a woman [player], walking into a room full of guys.

ES: Have you learned to just ignore it at this point?

CA: Oh yeah, nothing phases me anymore. I’ve had guys cuss at me, threaten me, I’ve had them talk badly to me, talk dirty to me—so pretty much, I’ve heard it all.

ES: Do you think they do it to intimidate you at the table?

CA: I think so. In this tournament—he’s out now, but [a player] sat down beside me and he goes, ‘You’re still here?’ And I was just like, ‘Yeah, good to see you.’

ES: Why do you think more women don’t play poker—does it go back to that intimidation factor?

CA: I think so. An open event compared to a ladies event, where everyone is so friendly, you’re all-in and [your opponents] say ‘Good luck.’ But here, they just don’t do that.

ES: I read about an experience you had back in high school with one of your teachers regarding your poker aspirations. Can you talk about that?

CA: It was senior year in my literature class; we had to write a paper on what we wanted to do after we graduated. And he went around the room asking us all, and I said a professional poker player—and my classmates already knew that I played. He laughed in my face and told me I could not do that, that I will wind up on drugs, alcohol, et cetera, getting into that scene. And he would not let me write it. So I always said when I win my first bracelet, I’m going to be like, ‘Suck it!’ (laughs)

ES: What advice would you give to a woman who wants to try her hand at professional poker?

CA: I would tell her to go for it. Just take a shot, and if it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to whatever you were doing. I don’t strictly play poker—I started nannying back in August. I want to get into childcare and have my own business someday. I had to get my foot in the door with that somehow, because I didn’t go to school for anything, so I’m a nanny for two little girls during the week.

ES: Are you going to teach them to play poker?

CA: Probably. I already told their dad I’m going to (laughs).