Meet Sandy “Pants” – Purveyor of Pearls and Poker Player
What role does poker play in your life? How are poker skills “relevant in so many aspects of life?”
Poker is a hobby that I enjoy a lot. I would actually like for it to be more than a hobby, but that’s not where I’m at just yet. But the dream is still alive. This may sound strange, but when I enter a casino and sit at a table, nothing else is going on in my world except what is going on with those other eight players. It’s relaxing in a sense, but on the other hand, it’s not an escape. If there are a lot of heavy issues weighing on my shoulders, my play will be affected by it. I do like the social aspect of poker, but I also play better when I’m quiet and focused. The way I present myself depends on the vibe of the table.
There are two major aspects of poker that take a lifetime to master. One is the math involved, and the other is people reading skills. I understand enough of the math to know when I’m making a call that is worth my money or betting the right amount to outplay my opponent. I love reading the other players, though. They give off so much information from the way they talk or body language to the way they perceive me. There is a lot to learn from people watching. A really good way to study people is to step outside yourself and try and understand the motives as to why they make certain decisions. A great book (non-poker) I read on this is How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer.
How did you get started playing poker?
I grew up just north of Atlantic City, NJ, so casinos have always been a part of my life. When I lived in New York City, I would take the bus to Atlantic City to play. I later moved to Florida where I began playing in the card rooms, at the dog and pony tracks and at the Indian casinos. My ultimate destination was either Las Vegas or Los Angeles. Because I could still work as a designer, enjoy the beach and nice weather and play poker in L.A., that is where I ended up!
I assume that you are good at it. Was it just practice, practice, practice that made you so good?
Practice, practice, practice is necessary to learn and become good at anything in life, and it is beyond true in poker. I’ve read a dozen poker books, study the players on television and in casinos, but nothing compares to actually sitting at a table and playing (or playing thousands of hands online). You can study a foundation of skills, but there is nothing like logging hours at a table and seeing various hands and situations play out. You really do not know what you would do in a situation until you are actually faced with it.
Is there a correlation between poker and designing jewelry? If so, what is it?
Well, I don’t think poker and jewelry design have anything directly in common, but I will say that understanding people and how they make decisions has come into play when considering marketing ideas, brand development, target customers and what turns a window shopper into a paying customer. I also want to understand how my customer perceives my jewelry line, the pricing structure and me, as a person (through social networking and blogging). It has helped bring a connection through my understanding of my customers. The mathematics of poker helps into any form of business when deciding if, for example, an ad campaign is worth the money based on the sales or visitors you receive from it. Comparing the statistics and analyzing the value works the same.
How do you juggle your two passions?
While I was working as a full time apparel designer for a company, I would go to the casino after work or on the weekends. (I’m a single woman with just a couple of cats who understand why I come home so late). I frequented Las Vegas and played in many tournaments and cash games. When I was laid off from my last design job in February 2009, I thought of many ideas of what I’d do to make money while unemployed. I considered playing poker full time, but after trying it out, realized that there was too much pressure on my game for things like food money. I could not afford to lose and didn’t have the bankroll needed to play comfortably. So, I stuck with what I know best – designing – and built my own jewelry line. For now, I have put poker on the back burner, but I still read, play small stakes online and follow the poker community through podcasts, twitter and blogs.
Anything else you would like to add?
I played in the World Series of Poker Ladies Event in 2007 and did decently for my first major tournament – placing 200 out of about 1,270 players. I was happy with my play, but you can’t change the luck factor that still will show up in poker, regardless of skill. You can just reduce the odds against you by playing a lot and causing your opponents to make mistakes (and not making any yourself). If you can do that, in the end you will come out ahead.