2010 WSOP Best Bets: Erica Schoenberg

Erica Schoenberg
'I feel a little bit like a pit bull - Let's just say that.'

Last year, PokerListings picked its best bets to win a World Series of Poker bracelet and revealed them to the public in advance of the series.

Out of five picks, our very own blogger Jason Mercier managed to win his first of what is sure to be many bracelets to come.

However, our other four choices were shut out. This year, after deciding one isn't nearly enough, we have chosen a line-up sure to be bringing home the bling from Las Vegas this summer.

Our first pick was none other than Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu. Then, after three major runner-up finishes on tour this year and a WPT final table appearance, we went with Sam Stein.

Every Tuesday and Thursday for the next two weeks we will reveal our other not-so-obvious best bets. Plus, when we're done, we'll tell you Negreanu's own 2010 WSOP Best Bets right before the 2010 World Series of Poker kicks off.

After making a WSOP final table early in her career, Erica Schoenberg has spent the past few years on the outside looking in. But with a little attitude adjustment and a lot of time spent working on her game, we think the Full Tilt pro is ready to start proving she's more poker player than poker babe.

As a result, we've made her our third best bet to win a WSOP bracelet this year:

A little over a year after exploding onto the live tournament scene with a 16th place finish at the 2006 World Poker Tour Championship, Erica Schoenberg made the final table of one of the many $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em events at the 2007 World Series of Poker.

Her third place finish earned her a $261,646 payday and the label as the hottest women in poker for more than just good looks.

The Akron, Ohio model come blackjack player turned poker pro with a past steeped in gaming, thanks to her handicapper parents, appeared to have a bright poker future ahead.

But after an 18th-place finish in the WPT's Bellagio Cup right after the series, she has not had even a sniff of success since.

"To come that close and get third it was like ugghh," she said. "And the two World Series' after that I was kind of complacent. I didn't have a good World Series last year or the year before.

"You always wonder if you're going to be able to weed through such a huge field again. You have to play well and the stars almost have to align for you to get there. You kind of feel like it just has to be your time and you start to doubt that it will be after a while when you spend an extended period of time without making any final tables."

But instead of continuing to wait for the right astrological circumstances, Schoenberg decided this was the year to try something new.

"I've been playing a lot online," she said. "More than usual over the past six or seven months. I kind of started doing a little experimenting and just playing a lot more online poker.

"I never really practiced and worked on my game. I just kind of came and played. So I've just been taking it much more seriously and I feel like I'm playing well because of it."

And while she's yet to get over the hump, a deep run all the way to 42nd at the WPT's L.A. Poker Classic this February seems to show she's headed in the right direction coming into this summer's chase for World Series gold.

"I have a really good feeling coming in," she said. "I just feel so much better at the table than I used to. I'm just more aware and much more comfortable.

"The longer you play that should just come naturally, but it's also because I've been playing so many more hands.

"Now I feel like I'm thinking less about the stars aligning. I feel more like it's going to happen because I'm spending less time waiting for it to be my time. I feel more like I'm making it my time."

For Schoenberg, making it her time at the 2010 WSOP means playing just about every small buy-in No-Limit Hold'em event she can get her hands on.

She also plans to take a shot in the Pot-Limit Omaha events and re-evaluate her personal schedule once the series is a couple of weeks in.

Understanding that six weeks of poker in the desert can be a grind, Schoenberg says she'll also take a little time for herself as the WSOP rolls on, just to keep the batteries charged.

"During the World Series you really don't get much free time, but when I do I really try to take advantage of it and just relax," she said. "I do things that I really enjoy that take the stress away.

"For me it's golfing or hanging out with my dogs. I just take it easy as much as I can."

But most importantly, she is focused on winning her first piece of WSOP jewelry.

"I am totally fired up," she said. "I'm not just going to play. I have a different mentally about it. I feel a little bit like a pit bull - Let's just say that."

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