Sam Cohen Goes from Business School to WSOP Final Table

For the past few years, Sam Cohen has been popping up in tournaments and payout sheets all across the world and earlier today she made her first WSOP final table.

While it was Cohen’s first WSOP final table (she ended up finishing ninth), it’s far from her first deep run.

Cohen has amassed close to half-a-million dollars in live tournaments earnings and scored her first six-figure cash last year, when she final tabled the Aussie Millions main event and won $126,684 for finishing 8th.

More recently, Cohen finished 3rd in APPT Seoul and won $81,829. It’s been quite the change for someone who didn’t even take the game seriously a few years back.

“I never played tournaments and I wasn’t good at them and I never had interest in figuring them out,” Cohen said. “If there was a [Miami] Heat game that day but I wanted to go play, I’d go and then if I had chips I would just walk off.”

“It clearly wasn’t a game that I was taking seriously.”

Cohen: Learned from WSOP Champion Tristan Wade

Tristan Wade
Learning from the best.

Things have changed.

Cohen is now fully focused on winning her first bracelet while the Miami Heat -- who are playing in the finals for an NBA Championship -- game takes a backseat.

The change, Cohen says, happened in 2011. Cohen -- who lives in Pompano Beach, Florida-- frequented $230 buy-in tournaments at the Hard Rock and ended up befriending a fellow basketball fan on the felt: Tristan Wade

“[Wade’s] into basketball too so we’d go to some games and I ended up putting him in the $10K six-max that he final tabled [at the 2011 WSOP], and using that money we went over to Europe,” Cohen said. “I put him in [€3,200 NLHE shootout], he won his bracelet and it kind of like snowballed.

“Now here I am.”

But Cohen’s bankroll wasn’t the only thing that benefitted from Wade’s deep runs, her game did too.

“I was good friends with [Wade] and we were travelling while he was playing bigger buy-in events,” Cohen said.

“And I’m not the type of personality that just watches other people do things. So I was like, teach me, and he started teaching me. It’s been a long learning process and I have a long way to go but I’m doing OK.”

Logic, Game Theory Came Easy to Cohen

Stacking rich old men since 2010.

Cohen, who majored in Economics at Tufts University, turned out to be a good student and took to the game quickly.

“I’ve always had an analytical mind,” Cohen said. “Logic and game theory and math is always something that came easily.”

Another thing that comes naturally to Cohen is being a woman, something that tends to stick out on the international poker scene. 

“The major difference, especially in Australia and in the English-speaking European countries, is there are a lot of older men that are playing and they are very aggressive — because they have money and power and stuff — they think that younger women are drawn to that,” Cohen said.

“So it took me a little while to adjust because I’m just not used to that.”

But that doesn’t necessarily translate to how she gets treated on the felt. In fact, Cohen says that their attitudes seem to reverse as she plays against them.

“As far as the poker goes, it actually helps because they won’t necessarily soft play,” Cohen said. “But if there’s gonna be someone at the table that they won’t go out of their way to three-bet light or something, I often will get that.

“But maybe after they read this all of the sudden these rich men all over Europe are going to start 3-betting me like crazy so I’ll have to adjust again.”

Australia, Macau Among Future Poker Stops

Cohen will continue to encounter rich men throughout world.

“I want to continue travelling. Ideally [my goal is to] be able to do well enough during the summer to kind of fund it,” Cohen said.

“My only trip I have booked so far is [WSOP] APAC, I went last year and it was great, it was a great experience. After that, Macau.”

This is Cohen’s first cash of the summer but she plans on playing all the NLHE events priced $5,000 or under. Despite her blooming poker career, Cohen still has plans on returning to school, just a bit later than expected.

“After school I worked for my dad’s company. He has a staffing company and the plan was always to go to graduate school but I just wasn’t really ready for that yet,” Cohen said.

“I wanted some more time and experience. Now [poker] has delayed business school a bit, but that is the eventual plan.”

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