Speaking with Tennessee Razz Queen, Trisha Peña

published on 09/03/09 at 4:24 am

Trisha PeñaCashing in one of her first World Series of Poker events (the 2007 World Championship Ladies Event No-Limit Hold’em), Trisha Peña (formerly Trisha Webb), has shown the determination and skill to win in a variety of games since that time. A regular at the American Rounders poker league in Nashville, Tennessee, she has won tournaments 36 times since Fall 2006. Here tenacity and results are consistent, making her a tough opponent, both live and online.

How did you first get started playing poker?
I found it on TV like so many other people, and asked someone to show me the rules. I started playing online at microstakes in November 2005. The next summer I found out about the free bar leagues in our city and started playing live in the late summer of 2006.

What types of mistakes were you making in the beginning?
Over-valuing pocket aces. I busted out of my very first live tournament with pocket aces that were cracked by an inferior hand and went to my car and cried. I also assumed that the players I was playing free poker with were trying to play “correctly” and it took me a while to realize there is “free poker” play and “real poker” play. Even though I play the same either way, I keep in mind that most people are not, and will chase because what does it cost them to do so?

What is your interest in Razz? A lot of poker players do not know it and the ones who do, don’t like it!
I don’t know why I gravitated to it, but I did. I had to read the rules then I started playing it online and I loved it. One of the draws was that most people do NOT play it as you said, and so I thought it would be good for me to get good at something other than NLHE because the competition would be less, not necessarily easier but fewer in number. I don’t mind being a big fish in a small pond as opposed to being a small fish in a big pound.

Could you give us some tips on a beginner trying to learn Razz?
Realize that, esp. online at low limits, there are a number of people who literally do not even know the rules but are just throwing $5 away to see what this game is. I’d see people in the chat boxes ask what the rules are while they are in a razz tournament! If you are not getting much resistance, it’s okay to bet 7th street if you have anything that looks like a decent hand because people chase too much. If you make a rule to almost always start with all three cards 8 or under, it’s hard to go too wrong because unless you just keep hitting bad because most players do not have that discipline.

You play a range of games, which ones would you consider your favorites and why?
Razz is of course my favorite. I was second to last woman standing on Day Two of the 2008 WSOP Razz event, and I loved every minute of it except busting out of course! I play all the HORSE games and was fortunate to play HORSE in the WSOP Circuit event in 2009. I made it into the top 20% of players so I think that was good. I can appreciate the difference between limit and no-limit Holdem, and sometimes players cannot do that. I play limit Holdem when I play in casinos mostly because of my available bankroll but I don’t find it boring like a lot of aggressive young online players do.

How much time do you spend playing online poker? Live? How many live tournaments do you play in a year?
2009 has been a bit different that the last couple years because I went through both a divorce and lost my job of 20 years, so I did not have the money and mental energy that I had before when I was playing 20+ hours online on the weekends and a couple hours each weeknight as well. As for live, I currently play two days a week, two tournaments each day for a total of four a week with American Rounders. I have consistently come in the top three spots each session for at least the last two years and have won at least one of my “nights” more often than not. There had also been some small cash games in there as well as monthly HORSE tournaments that I used to host but again, this year I have not done that many. I hope to be throwing myself back into poker soon.

Any tricks or tips for keeping your head in the game for long periods of time?
I have always been a disciplined person so it is not hard for me to sit at a table for 12+ hours at a time. I rarely if ever drink alcohol while I play so I’m sure that helps. I do know that if I start running bad and just cannot get any traction, I will walk away before I lose any more because sometimes, no matter what you do, it’s just not going to work that particular day.

What’s is the worst thing anyone has said to you at the table?
There was a drunk player early on in our league that bluffed me out of a pot (I had top pair but the board had straight and flush textures) who threw his cards at me as he raked in the chips, saying “THAT’S how you play 7-2 offsuit!”

What professional has given you the best advice?
I haven’t been fortunate enough to really talk to pros in person about poker, but I did have an online pro sitting next to me tell me, deep into Day One of the 2008 WSOP Razz tourney, that I was playing “exceptionally” and he couldn’t recall any mistakes that I had made all night. That certainly made my confidence soar! In books though I have gotten a lot of good advice from Phil Hellmuth, Phil Gordon, Mitchell Cogert, Ed Miller, David Sklansky and Arnold Snyder.

If you had to offer advice to a beginner, what would you say to them?
I do a little tutoring here and there, and the biggest thing beginners do not seem to do is look at the texture of the board to see what hands are possible and have little concept of position. Also it is very important not to change your style of play because you see “bad” players hitting miracle hands on the river because they play, for example, any king and it hits two pair. Remember, bad flops hit bad players. Anyone can win one tournament or cash big in a home game once, but it’s consistent correct play, regardless of a bad run here and there, that will pay off over the long run.

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2 Responses to “Speaking with Tennessee Razz Queen, Trisha Peña”

  1. trey still

    Sep 3rd, 2009

    Wow I knew you before you were famous.haha.Great interview Trisha.

  2. Mark (@_Depserado)

    Sep 3rd, 2009

    Nice interview Trisha, welcome to the #tpt, and its been a pleasure sharing the virtual felt with you. I think I speak for everyone when I say we apprieciate your experience and hope to see more of you in the future. BTW, it must be horribly creepy to be interviewed by a known sex offender…

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