It’s hard enough to play online poker and stream at the same time. PokerStars PA ambassador Jennifer Shahade not only does that, but is usually also playing a game of chess on the side.
It’s not as random as it may sound, seeing as Shahade is a two-time US Women’s Chess Champion and accomplished poker player. Twitch, as a streaming platform, offers a unique opportunity for Shahade to showcase both passions while catering to a wide audience.
In her first week of streaming on her Twitch channel, Shahade got some new streamer rungood. Her viewers got the treat of watching her close out the final table of the PASCOOP $200 Sunday Special on April 12.
Of 422 entries (including 127 re-entries), she came out on top after making a deal three-handed to split the remaining prize money evenly and play for an additional $1,250. The win was worth $11,527. The inaugural PA Spring Championship Of Online Poker continues this weekend with the main events running on Sunday.
We asked Shahade about the PA SCOOP victory, streaming, and tips for other online poker players.
Final tabling on stream
PlayPA: Congrats again on the Sunday score! Can you tell us how the tournament went for you and any critical hands that helped propel you to the end?
Jen: I regged the tournament thinking that if I ran up a stack, I’d stream the final two tables live. Otherwise, I’d pop in the last PASCOOP of the night, the Super Sonic event and stream that. I am new to streaming and I prefer to create highly intense and interactive streams even if shorter.
The plan couldn’t have gone more perfectly as I was a massive chip leader going into the final two tables and started streaming on the final table bubble. I picked up kings on the very first hand of the final. I also ran very well on flips, thanks to my twitch supporters no doubt.
PASCOOP win, giving back
PlayPA: There’s so much variance in tournaments, especially in the late stages. Can you explain the decision to chop three-handed and tell us how that went down?
Jen: I had a huge chip lead for most of the final table, but I lost a critical hand at some point three-handed and now was at a very small deficit to both players. The “Make a Deal” box had been clicked by both players for a while, so I saw an opportunity to click on it and see about an “Equal Chop.” This gained me around $400 in equity, so I decided to round that up to 500 and pledge it to charity to support COVID relief. I gave most of that to the Double Up Drive, which is giving cash directly to families in need in Las Vegas (and the donations are doubled.)
As Program Director of US Chess Women, I’m also going to definitely give a donation to the weekly US Chess Women fundraiser series I help organize on twitch.tv/BotezLive, one of the most popular chess channels on Twitch. The goal is to raise money for US Chess to support online chess seminars for girls and youth. All live chess events and seminars have been canceled due to COVID-19 so we want to give an opportunity for kids to learn and feel connected to the chess culture.
Watch the clip of her final hand via PokerStarsUSA twitter here:
Taking the Twitch streaming plunge
PlayPA: How and when did you decide to start streaming on Twitch and what is the reasoning behind streaming both poker and chess together?
Jen: I have only been streaming for a week on Twitch but I love it so far! I resisted Twitch for a while as I’m usually more partial to highly produced content, like my podcasts the GRID and Ladies Knight. But once PokerStars PA launched, I had in the back of my mind an idea to carve a niche: play poker and chess at the same time, so that devotees from both sides of my life could learn the basics of the other game, with the comfort of seeing a game they knew a lot about on the screen too.
I was traveling a lot in early 2020 so didn’t get to it, but obviously all my trips got canceled. So last week I just dove right in. I have to thank my friends at PokerStars as well as Alexandra Botez, Eric Hollreiser, Chaedoc and Chessbae for inspiring me to launch a channel with this niche!
Twitch platform perfect for connecting while social distancing
I think the final push for me to engage with Twitch (finally!) was when I co-hosted a very special online event a month ago called Isolated Queens. We celebrated all the awesome female chess players all over the world who were practicing social isolation but still hungry for engagement and fun. We had an online chess tournament with over $2,000 in prizes (no entry fee).
Over 30 female chess champions and devotees streamed for the first time during this event, allowing for channel surfing a single event from multiple perspectives. The incredible former World champion Alexandra “chessqueen” Kosteniuk took it down, while my friend, the legendary Grandmaster Irina Krush, tied for second place while in recovery from COVID-19.
I think it sent a really strong message early on in social distancing journey for many of us. It is possible to find new ways to be productive and social through this terrible time. So I had a mental breakthrough during this event that drew me closer to Twitch. It’s akin to the humbling experience you can get from meditation. There are so many other perspectives than your own and our consciousness is just one channel of billions. It’s easy to know that intellectually but forget it spiritually.
PlayPA: I noticed you keep your cards face down and reveal them after the hand. Can you explain the reasoning for this set up?
Jen: If I have sessions where I only play poker, I’ll do cards-up on a delay. The advantage of my system now is that I can engage in real time chat, while viewers get a chance to see what I had immediately after the hand is over.
Tips for playing poker online – all about fundamentals
PlayPA: What tips can you give to people who may mostly play live but are now making the transition to playing online because of the current casino closures?
Jen: Work on your preflop ranges. Without live tells, it’s particularly important to have good fundamentals preflop. A lot of live players are so used to leveraging great instincts to make marginal raises or calls or folds but that may just lose a lot of money online.
I’d just review what the theoretical ranges are and make some serious attempts to internalize the most frequently occurring ranges, while of course being open to tweak and exploit.