PokerStars Ambassador Georgina James might be more comfortable playing online but, as we found out this week, she’s able to perform in poker’s hottest location.
CardsChat spoke to GJReggie during the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC). Fresh off a win in the women’s event, she told us that being part of a friendly community has helped her transition from online to live events.
For context, James plays the majority of her poker in front of a camera. As one of poker’s new generation of Twitch streamers, she’s used to putting on a show and making friends in the process. However, as we discovered, she’s learning to love live poker events.
“It’s been really good here at the PSPC. I got here early just to make sure I got over the jetlag and was well rested. I played some practice tournaments before the big one, so it’s been great,” James told CardsChat.
Practice makes perfect for PokerStars Ambassador
The practice certainly paid off because James got her first live win registered on the Hendon Mob. Despite registering late, she beat a field of 79 entries in the Bahamas.
“I registered late and played until 4am because we were eight-handed for what seemed like hours. I got heads-up and we agreed to come back and finish the following day. That was Day 1 of the PSPC, so we agreed to do it after the first session,” said James.
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The logistics of being in two live tournaments at once didn’t faze the online specialist. Once she’d successfully made it through Day 1 of the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship, she grinded out a win in the women’s event.
“We were reasonably shallow heads-up. I knew it wouldn’t take that long. However, it was still a long day overall, so I was kind of relieved after I won,” James continued.
Getting a win just before the biggest poker tournament of her life was the confidence boost James needed. Taking down the $25,000 PSPC wasn’t going to be easy, James knew that, but the experience alone made it worth the trip.
“The PSPC kickoff was unbelievable. I made sure I was there for the start to experience it all. The atmosphere was electric. You could tell everyone was so excited to be here,” James explained.
PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is unique
I’ve waxed lyrical about the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) and PSPC, so it’s good to see I’m not alone in thinking it’s a unique event. James thinks the COVID-induced hiatus may have actually helped to make this year’s PSPC better than ever.
“It feels different to any other live event I’ve played in before. I think it’s been such a long time coming. Some people have been waiting for this one $25K event for three years. I think that long build up has really increased the excitement,” she said.
Unfortunately, James couldn’t parlay victory in the women’s event into a PSPC title. She’ll be back though, and not just because she tasted victory in the hottest poker event of the year. James has found her people. She loves poker, not least because of the friends she’s made both on Twitch and in person.
“I love playing online. I love the social aspect of it. Knowing you have allies at any event you go to you is great,” James said.
Georgina James finds friends in poker
However, as we discussed, the community spirit in poker isn’t always obvious to outsiders. Where some see a game fueled by the desire to beat opponents at all costs, those in the game see a community of friendly, like-minded individuals.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere without the community I’ve built through streaming. It almost feels like, once you find your poker family, you’re going to have a lot of fun going to events and bumping into people you know. I think that’s the nice thing about poker, the fact it’s really social,” James said.
Women are a minority in poker, that’s a fact. Fortunately, more women are taking to the felt, and ambassadors like James are contributing to these changing dynamics. However, for all the positive changes we’ve seen in recent years, things are far from perfect.
James is a fantastic advocate for women in poker, but even she can’t see a single solution to the problem of equality.
“I don’t know what the single biggest obstacle for women is. I think I’ve played live in a casino by myself, not at a PokerStars event or with friends, maybe two or three times. Casinos can be intimidating. Even though I love the game, I always feel more reassured when I’ve got my friends there,” said James.
Multi-faceted problems require multi-faceted strategies. Things won’t change overnight. Bringing more women into poker and showing them that, overall, it’s a friendly community will take time. James believes there are plenty of things we can all do both in terms of educating women and offering practical solutions to real problems.
“There are a lot of great women’s communities out there where you can chat, make friends, and get help. I think it helps if you can build a solid community of women,” James explained.
We all need to make poker appealing for women
Poker companies can also play their part in making the game more accessible to women. James won the women’s event at PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, and she wants to see more tournaments like it at other series.
“I’m always advocating for women’s events at every EPT stop,” she continued.
Then, of course, there are role models. James might have been modest in assessing her own contributions to poker, but we’re not. She’s a winning player online and in the live arena. Those achievements count in more ways than one.
Indeed, as James herself acknowledges, “highlighting the great women we have in poker” is something she does regularly. However, as much as she highlights others, James also deserves some recognition. She stepped out of her online comfort zone and won at the PCA. She’s mixed it up with poker’s elite and she’s found her place among a community of friends.
Live or online, James is winning, but she believes the latter is a great medium for women who want to try poker for the first time.
“I would like to think that my presence helps encourage other women. I predominantly play online, which is a place where you have your anonymity. People don’t have to know you’re a woman. You can just play in the comfort of your own home, which is nice,” she said.
Of course, as the PokerStars Players No Limit Championship has shown us, there’s a lot of fun to be had if you (literally) step outside. However, what might be a small step for some is a giant leap for others. James wants women to know that there is help out there. Someone in a casino will always have your back, regardless of whether you’re a newbie or a pro.
“Just knowing who to speak to if something goes wrong in a casino is important. Knowing that something can be done about it and that there’s going to be someone on your side can get more women to play,” she said.
PokerStars setting standards for events everyone wants to play
The advice here is to know your rights. Use your voice and be assured that people in a poker room, whether male or female, will have your back.
“I think people let things slide and don’t go back when they have a bad experience. However, if you know there is a support system in place, and that bad behavior will be punished, it can give more confidence to play,” James continued.
The unfamiliarity of a random casino can be disconcerting, but the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship isn’t. In fact, every major event organized by PokerStars is welcoming, regardless of who you are. With that in mind, we asked James a final piece of advice for anyone wanting to ante up in a live event.
“If you play online, there are a lot of great satellites you can take part in. If you win a prize package for a live event, PokerStars’ player liaison team is fantastic and they’ll definitely look after you. They’ll treat you like a VIP,” said James.
Using satellites to bridge the gap between online and live poker is a solid strategy. However, as James said, sometimes you’ve just got to take the plunge.
“I would just go for it and use the bring a friend strategy. Poker can be volatile, so having a friend there to offer comfort and support if poker isn’t going well is important. Other than this, speak to people, make friends. Find your people and poker is great,” James concluded.