fD Interview


fD Interview: Erica Schoenberg

August 22, 2008
by Isabel Cowles
FindingDulcinea’s weekly feature offers interviews with intriguing people on the cutting edge of business, the arts, technology and journalism. This week, we talk with Erica Schoenberg, a professional poker player whose winnings exceed $600,000.

Before discovering the joys of blackjack, Erica Schoenberg was a professional model and personal trainer. But once she learned to count cards, nothing could come between her and the chips—except the Internet. In addition to playing at live tournaments and other casino events, Erica plays for Full Tilt Poker, an online poker service. FindingDulcinea talks with Erica about some of her most memorable moments around the poker table, and how she navigates being a female card player in a male-dominated game.
fD: What are some of your favorite poker memories?

ES: One was winning a satellite (a smaller tourney whose prize is a buy-in for a larger tournament) to play in my first ever $10,000 World Poker Tour event. Another was winning my first tournament, of course! (A $2500 WPT prelim event in 2007.) And making my first World Series of Poker final table last year.

fD: What’s your favorite part of the game?

ES: The thrill of competition and the adrenaline burst that it provides. And, of course, beating all the men.
fD: Were you very nervous before your first tournament?

ES: Absolutely. I think it would have been a little worrisome if I wasn’t nervous. No sane woman should feel completely at ease walking into a crowded, all-male poker room at the local Indian Casino.

fD: How do you prepare for a big competition?

ES: I try to get a decent night’s sleep and I usually like to go for a jog or get some sort of exercise to run out my nerves.

fD: Do you do research on your opponents—or does that even help?

ES: If I have time, yes. I think any additional information you gather can be useful. Within the first 30–45 minutes of playing with your opponents, however, you should be able to ascertain their playing style; but it never hurts to have a heads-up on your rivals.

fD: Have you found that some men are threatened by your poker skills?

ES: No, because I believe almost all men really believe that they are better than women at poker.

fD: Do you have any advice for women in a traditionally male-dominated field?

ES: My advice would be to have thick skin! You need to be ready for the inevitable leers and lewd comments from the degenerates that loiter around poker and casinos. When you expect these unpleasantries, it makes it easy to let them bounce right off you.
fD: How different is it playing in real life versus playing online?

ES: You have a different set of obstacles when sitting in a male-dominated card room. At home, I’m surrounded by dogs and family, so it’s much more comfortable, but sometimes more distracting.

fD: How do you think that the Internet has changed poker?

ES: It’s drastically improved the number of good players. People have access to poker 24-7 and can play multiple tables at a time, so everything is faster, including the rate of improvement.

fD: Is blackjack still your favorite card game?

ES: No, but it is the only casino pit game I would EVER play. While I’ll always have a soft spot for blackjack, poker is my true love!

fD: Have you ever hustled anyone … just for fun?

ES: I plead the Fifth!

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