Jennifer Shahade: More Women and Chess Players Should Try Poker

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Published on 27 June 2014 by Pokerlistings 8018

As a woman and a chess grandmaster, Jennifer Shahade says that more women and chess players should try their hand at poker since it offers a unique financial and competitive opportunity. Jennifer Shahade is a Woman's Grandmaster and two-time American Women's Chess Champion but nowadays she spends most of her time on the poker felt. PokerListings.com caught her on a break at the 2014 World Series of Poker to find out how chess and poker compare.

My name is Jennifer Shahade. I used to be a professional chess player and now I also play poker. I am the Mind Sports Ambassador for Poker Stars. In chess and in poker, we see more women kind of coming into the game. A lot of times, it's role-models. Seeing women succeed at the highest level, I think, excites people and inspires them. We definitely saw that in chess, Judit Polgár, she is the strongest woman player in history. Ever since she kind of rose to the top, so many more women are succeeding at the highest levels. But, I think in chess and in poker, it's still really imbalanced, so there's a lot of work to be done. I think in chess, you definitely see both girls and boys.

It doesn't really matter who you know as much or what city you're located in, you don't have to necessarily be in a hotbed of poker or chess activity because online is blossoming so much. In chess, you can really learn a lot just from playing and studying online. So, yeah, there's definitely some parallels there, as well. Absolutely, I definitely think that chess players have a good starting point to get into poker, just because their approach is less likely to be a gambling one and more of, "This is a fun game that I need to try to master." There's becoming a little bit more money in chess though so that's hardening and I think we'll see more and more people kind of combine chess and poker in the coming years.

Yeah, I know it might seem scary to play live poker, but generally it's good to be a little bit scared. I find that if you're a competitor and you work hard, actually, if you're a little bit nervous, sometimes you perform the best. So, don't worry about some nerves. It's probably a good thing. You're probably going to be paying more attention and playing better than the people who aren't nervous.

I think that in any field which is mostly men, on one hand it's intimidating to get into but then if you succeed, you'll probably find even more opportunities, so I definitely encourage women to do that. One thing I've noticed in poker is that the friendships and the atmosphere in ladies events is getting so, so great. You really see women supporting each other and rooting for each other. You don't see as much competition and jealousy at least on the surface, and I think it's a great thing. It's really a very positive atmosphere in women's poker now, so I encourage you to come on in!