I learned how to play 5-card from my Grandma when I was in kindergarten. I probably logged a thousand hands on my grandma’s handheld poker game by the age of 6! This is my second SIG tournament, and my favorite part about playing is the table talk. Chatting and making jokes with others at my table. I work on SIG’s Security team in Bala. When I’m not at my desk, you can probably find me in SIG’s gym – I love powerlifting – or planning my next trip across the world.

I came to SIG about two years ago, and once I got the job, I knew it was time to start learning how to play Hold ‘Em. Based on a little World Series on TV and some time with a handheld poker game, I was pretty much already a pro, right? Last year’s tournament was the first time that I played poker in a true “tournament” setting, and man, was I nervous. I don’t remember too many details of what happened – except that I was in my car on my way home before the dinner break.

At the start of this year’s play, I knew that I had to push myself outside of my comfort zone and be more aggressive, which is not my nature. In the first tournament, I was too sheepish, and let bigger stacks push me around until I was whittled down to 3 or 4 blinds. With one tournament under my belt, I knew it wasn’t a big deal if you lost – turns out people didn’t laugh or boo you after bad hands! – so I played a lot more loose and had much more fun. I was lucky to sit at some great tables and enjoyed the table talk and banter of my fellow employees. Sitting at a poker table is a great way to meet people at SIG that you wouldn’t otherwise meet in your day-to-day.

Somehow between all of that chatting, I did manage to actually play some poker, and I found myself still playing up until the final day. OK, so here were the nerves that I didn’t have earlier in the tournament. I tried to maintain the “aggressive” style from my earlier rounds – at least what felt “aggressive” for me. Overall, I am happy with how I played, but I definitely got bailed out by the cards more than once. One hand in particular comes to mind – calling a player putting me all-in when all I had was a Queen High, with two pairs (4s and 5s) on the board. I had no business calling that hand – I was 100% acting on a hunch. Luckily, my opponent also only had Queen High and we ended up splitting the pot, so I lived to see some more cards.

Getting down to the final two players, I saw that my inexperience with a “heads up” style of play beginning to show. I could see Eric, the chip leader, taking down my stack bit by bit – what I had thought was “aggressive” was not nearly aggressive enough. By the time I had a hand I felt comfortable working with – AdQd – Eric led me by around $600K. I went all-in, and he immediately called with an Ac4h. When the turn came up with a 4c, I knew I was toast.

Maybe before next year’s tournament I’ll spend some more time playing poker one-on-one, should I find myself heads up in the future. Either way, this tournament has been such a fun experience. I have been quickly reminded of how big my network at SIG has grown with the number of the hallway high fives and emails cheering me on the last few days. This really is such a special place to work!

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