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Rising Pro Sarah Tolagson Hitting Stride at 2013 WSOP
To say Sarah Tolagson stands out in the average poker tournament would be an understatement.
The attractive 26-year-old blonde female looks markedly different than the average grinder in the male-dominated poker world.
Her story, however, should sound familiar to many young poker players.
Tolagson grew up playing multi-player videogames like Halo, World of Warcraft and Call of Duty and poker was the next natural step.
“I picked up the game up around the TV boom and started playing underage in casinos when I was 17.”
Tolagson: "I Was a Total Donkey When I Started"
Tolagson, who hails from California, said she fooled around in casinos for about five years before she started taking the game seriously.
“I was a total donkey when I started,” she laughed.
“But I always liked the competitive nature of poker. I really like how there are so many ways to play hands and the amount of creativity in the game.”
Eventually Tolagson started to get better and her game improved even more when she met boyfriend Jordan Cristos.
“We have different personalities,” she said.
“I wasn’t much of a grinder before I met him and he showed me that in poker, that’s just what you have to do.”
Tolagson started to have some serious success online, where she plays under the handle Saramar, and now has nearly $300,000 in lifetime winnings according to PocketFives.
Of course her online career hit a serious obstacle in 2011 when Black Friday forced most major online poker sites to vacate.
“It was really messed up they took that away from us,” she said.
Black Friday Prompts Trip to Mexico to Play Online Poker
Earlier this year Tolagson took her first trip abroad to play online poker, traveling down to Mexico with Cristos.
Tolagson says she had mixed feelings about the trip because she enjoyed the traveling part of it but ultimately felt it was a bit too dangerous given the political climate in Mexico.
“We got pulled over by cops and harassed and extorted,” she said. “I couldn’t even drive to the grocery store without being terrified. That said, I really did like La Paz and would recommend it to online players.”
Tolagson said that she loved the poker part of the trip. Having access to online MTTs 24/7 was a welcome change.
Her online experiences seem to have helped her at the 2013 WSOP where she’s already pulled off two cashes including a 15th place finish in the $1,000 Turbo Event for $12,373.
It helps that unlike a lot of online poker players, Tolagson really enjoys live poker.
“I love live poker,” she said.
“You have to play differently and I think the skill set is really different too. There are a lot of kids who are really good online because they can play 10 tables at once but live it’s more about reading people and you can make huge folds because a guy is a nitty old man or breathing heavy or something.”
It helps that Tolagson is able to often discuss her game with her boyfriend Cristos.
“I think it’s crucial to have someone you can talk to who will be completely honest with you,” she said. “You need someone to tell your you’re terrible at certain times and also to encourage you.”
It appears Tolagson is here to stay in poker and is already making plans to take a trip to Canada to play online poker after the WSOP.
Tolagson isn’t done with the WSOP, however. At the time this article was published she had a top 10 chip stack in the $1,111 buy-in Little One for One Drop.