IN THE CARDS: Chatting with PokerStars Women’s Day Platinum Pass Qualifiers

May 11, 2020
IN THE CARDS: Chatting with PokerStars Women’s Day Platinum Pass Qualifiers

PokerStars recently announced the qualifiers in the site’s International Women’s Day Platinum Pass competition. In March, PokerStars announced a contest for one deserving woman to earn a Platinum Pass.

The company received nominations from around the world. The finalists range from poker pros to business owners to a registered nurse to a volunteer with senior citizens. One thing they all have in common is a love for poker.

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They also now have a shot at one of the biggest events in poker. A Platinum Pass has become one of the most-coveted items in poker. A pass guarantees a $30,000 all-expenses paid trip to Barcelona, Spain, for the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC). The tournament will be held Aug. 20-24.

The first PSPC was held in January 2019, and became the biggest $25,000 buy-in live poker tournament in history

In April, USPoker spoke with two finalists – Oklahoma’s Meichelle Culhane and Las Vegas resident Jan Fisher. After highlighting these two women, here is some background on two others hoping for a trip to Barcelona.

A Q&A with two Women’s Day Platinum Pass finalists

Christina Read

Flowery Branch, Georgia (originally from Pine Prairie, Louisiana)

Profession: Bank sales executive turned semi-pro poker player

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I love poker and helping to grow women in the sport. I come from a small town in Louisiana and growing up could never even imagine all the opportunities that poker has opened for me. After moving to Atlanta when I was 18, I basically worked my way from the ground up to becoming a vice president of sales at a very large regional bank.

Being successful and doing it with enthusiasm and passion has always been very important to me. I feel that I have made my mark in the corporate world, and now would love to make my mark in the poker world.

I’m an advocate for Georgia for the Women’s Poker Association (WPA) which gives me the opportunity to do live interviews for our Facebook page.

I also serve as an admin/founder of a ladies’ poker group named Poker Queens, where we cheerlead for our fellow female poker players’ successes and share training and tips. I have a wonderful husband, three children, and two young granddaughters.

I’ve put in lots of time and study on my tournament game the last few years. In April 2019, I played in the Irish Poker Open and finished in second place in the ladies championship. I now have seven final tables in WSOP Circuit events and four final tables in WPT DeepStack events and numerous other cashes. I have faith that a ring is coming soon.

How does it feel to be a Platinum Pass finalist?

I am so amazed and humbled to have this opportunity that I never would have had otherwise. I literally jumped up and down when I received the email. Thanks so much PokerStars! I hope to represent my fellow female poker players in a way that makes them proud. 

How are you going to prepare for the final?

I already eat, drink and breathe poker. I will continue to play online single table satellites while quarantined and study as much as possible. 

How long have you been playing poker?

I’ve been playing cash games for about 15 years. I started seriously playing tournaments within the last three years. 

How did you get into poker? 

As a child I watched and played poker and booray with my grandpa and other card games with parents and family. When I met my husband 15 years ago, he was playing in a bar league and invited me to join – I was the first one out that night.

I then went home and studied all week and watched it on TV and the next week I got 12th. I was introduced to cash poker and played it a lot more. Years later I played my first casino tournament in Tunica, Mississippi, and won it. I’ve been hooked ever since.

What do you enjoy about poker?

Getting my Kings cracked! No really, everything. I look at poker as a prism to the world. There are so many lessons we can apply from poker to everyday life. Poker teaches us patience and resilience. It teaches us that in order to succeed we must stumble and fail many times.

Poker teaches us that we will never know everything and teaches discipline. Poker teaches that everyone needs a little bit of luck. And poker teaches us that with hard work and perseverance we can overcome any odds to be successful.

I also really enjoy all the unique and wonderful relationships I have developed through the years with the many wonderful, giving women in this sport.

How do you think we can encourage more women to get into poker?

We can start teaching girls that they can play complex strategic games such as poker at a young age. Traditionally these type games are taught to boys and I often see the results at the poker table.

Even in my own play sometimes I still want to be “ladylike” and not too aggressive, often to my detriment. Working on that and letting women know it is fine to do your best in all areas of life no matter the gender of your competition.

For young women, we should be encouraging them to learn the game and not just sit behind their husbands or partners at the table.

I am an advocate of women-only tournaments also for many reasons. I believe if every woman in poker would take a few women under their wing and help mentor and coach them we would see our numbers surge. 

What would you say to women who are intimidated by the game of poker?

I think we can all be intimidated by poker starting out, male or female. While it is true that men have been ugly or overly aggressive to me at the table as part of their strategy to put you on tilt overall, you can find ways to use your gender to your advantage.

When we see any of this intimidation or disrespect in any way happening at the table we should speak up for ourselves and other women immediately. Dealers and floor staff should be trained to spot this also.

What is your advice to future female leaders in poker?

Go for your dreams. Don’t be afraid to fail because I am here to tell you even with my successes, I have had lots more failures. You never truly fail; you either win or learn or both. Be open to opportunities for growth and approach every table as a new adventure!

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Terry Hatcher

Austin, Texas (originally from Montreal, Canada)

Profession: Business owner, tournament director, dealer

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I grew up speaking both French and English. My French side of the family played cards at the kitchen table, and I found an affinity for cards early in my teenage years. Today, I’m a US citizen, living in Austin for the past 20 years.

I have three grown children who fully support my decision to play poker. I’ve always had a competitive edge to my personality. I was female athlete of the year in high school and played on numerous sports teams – hockey, softball and skiing. For the last 10 years I’ve been training my horses. 

In 2018 I joined the WPA, an organization focusing on women’s poker, a passion that I discovered while hosting a ladies league in my home. I am now the Texas regional representative and take my role on the road supporting women in both casinos and card rooms.

In 2019, I decided to get my TDA certificate and took a position in Austin’s largest card room as a tournament director. I feel fortunate to be working in an industry that I’m passionate about.

How does it feel to be a Platinum Pass finalist? 

To be rewarded for the support I give to women in the field of poker is humbling. I truly enjoy railing, highlighting and supporting women.

How are you going to prepare for the final?

I’m going to focus on getting in shape both physically and mentally.

How long have you been playing poker?

In 2013, I started developing my skills in home games with friends, and 2014 was the beginning of my “poker career.”

How did you get into poker? 

In 2014, I won a Carnival cruise ship tournament, which allowed me to play in their yearly $100,000 event. I didn’t win but I got the desire to play at a higher level. A few months later, I took a WPT training class in Las Vegas.

Then right out of the gate, in my first WSOP event, I placed 39th out of 4,500 players and from then on I was hooked! 

What do you enjoy about poker?

I would say the social aspect of sitting with friends or strangers for eight hours at a table, sharing and playing the game. But the truth is there are times when you don’t say a word for hours, so I guess it’s mostly the competitive edge the game offers.

I enjoy outplaying the competition and striving for better success and deeper runs. It’s a challenge and I accept it.

How could more women be encouraged to get into poker?

Continue to create fun social ladies’ leagues, discover the interest, then help them turn it into a passion. Teach and grow the skills to play in open fields with continuous support.

We also need to share that the game of poker will help develop business skills to use in the workplace.

Do you think there are any advantages to being a woman playing poker?

Advantages and disadvantages, I think you must take what you’re given and leverage it, see it as a positive and not a negative. 

What would you say to women who are intimidated by the game of poker?

Become part of a group that supports women’s poker, they will offer materials, forums and an outlet to discuss issues. Knowledge is power, the more you know about the game and the rules the more confident you will become at the tables.

What is your advice to future female leaders in poker?

My advice would be to always be approachable regardless of your position or success, always have an open door.

You often hear professional poker players say in interviews that they live with other pros or they are best friends with successful players. It’s a community where they share, live, and breathe poker.

They help and support each other throughout the journey – before, during, and after their success. Same as for female leaders, it’s a community no matter what level one is playing at. Lift each other up and share.

What more can women and men do to create better gender balance in society?

Make sure everyone has a seat at the table. Gender equality is seeing males and females as equal status and value. It is judging a person based on their merit, and not viewing them as inferior or superior purely based on their gender. 

As a female tournament director, I encountered some of the prejudice. I was often seen as “softer.” I needed to express more conviction in my delivery, so I could change the mindset of some of the players. My answer to your question is: know yourself, your value and exude more confidence.

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