Interview: Melanie Weisner
Hometown: Houston, Texas
I caught up this week with Melanie Weisner, an up and coming young online tournament player who is participating extensively in this year's WSOP. She was nice enough to fill us in on how things are going for her this year.
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PokerTips.org: First off, how long have you been playing poker and what got you started?
Weisner: I've been playing poker for four years now (probably 2 of them well) and I've been playing full time for one year. I got started in poker when I was 18 and my younger brother won the tournament leaderboard on Pokerstars, along with around $50k in tournament winnings. I thought to myself, "Wow, I should be doing that." So I deposited some money and spent a bunch of time losing it all at micro stakes cash. I'm really stubborn, though, so I kept at it until finally I started learning and things started clicking.
PokerTips.org: How's the WSOP going for you so far?
Weisner: Welllllll....the WSOP is not going exactly as I planned :( I've played about 17 bracelet events and a few of the Venetian 1k+ events and bricked them all except for the 10k Heads Up Championship, where i took 18th. I was really disappointed about that because heads-up is my strongest game and I felt like I was really playing at the top of my capability. Everything else has unfortunately been a pretty brutal string of beats and I'm weathering it as best as I can, but I'm definitely disappointed that I'm not having the WSOP I hoped for. There's still time, though, so we'll see if I can turn it around.
PokerTips.org: Do anything fun away from the tables since you've been in Vegas?
Weisner: I've actually been playing so much I haven't had that much time off to have fun, but I'm a huge fan of this place called Stoney's. It's a bar with pool, beer pong, line dancing, and a mechanical bull! And I'm from Houston originally so I know a lot of the line dances and it's a lot of fun. I've also been meaning to ride the stratosphere coasters and go sky diving, so we'll see if I can get that in before I leave.
PokerTips.org: Who are some players you credit with helping you with your game the most?
Weisner: I'm pretty independent when it comes to poker learning and I find that I develop the best through my own experience. However, poker is a game where so many different approaches can be successful, and there have definitely been a few very smart people who have helped me understand different thought processes and gotten me out of mental ruts. One of these people is Eric "Avril Sharapova" Ladny. I feel like he's one of the best players in the game today both live and online, and also one of the few people that thinks completely differently than me but understands exactly how I think...he's taught me a lot about being able to play every street well, and making the plays that are going to give you the greatest ev, not just making plays that are going to let you avoid making difficult decisions on later streets. He''s also someone who's a great model for always thinking, learning, and developing at the highest levels that you possibly can. Another one of these players is Kevin "ImaLuckSac" MacPhee. Kevin is an inspiring tournament player and has been an amazing friend to me and my first friend on the live circuit; he's been one of the people that has really helped me in the "life" aspect of poker and given me a lot of confidence in my play and perspective on playing professionally.
PokerTips.org: Do you ever play cash games or non-hold'em variants or is it strictly tournaments?
Weisner: For a long time, my main games have been multi-table tournaments and heads up sit-and-gos. They're pretty polar opposites (especially full ring tournaments), but I've found that the combination of the two has made my tournament game really well-rounded and given me a lot of different ways to attack my opponents. I have been thinking for a while about switching to heads-up cash and moving into other NL cash variants as well, because I'd like to feel as comfortable deep-stacked in well-structured tournaments as the good cash players do. I think that I've been adjusting much better as I get more and more deep-structured events like EPT mains under my belt, but I'd like to develop that even further because I feel that the strongest and smartest poker players are cash players because of the huge range of situations they face without the parameters of tournament structure. I think accumulating more knowledge through cash play will also ultimately make me a better tournament player. I'm definitely also interested in working on some of my other games--I played the 2-7 NL event at WSOP and loved it! So exploring the other games is always really fun and it's a nice break from no-limit, and I'd like to play more mixed games in the future.
PokerTips.org: Do you find any added challenges to playing poker on account of being female? What about benefits?
Weisner: The biggest challenge I face is adjusting to how my opponents are going to view/play against me based on the female stereotype. For instance, in most events in Europe that I played, I literally could not bluff a single person and every value bet I made got paid off insanely light. I got the general impression that no Euro guys wanted to be bluffed by a girl, and generally viewed me as really aggressive and crazy, no matter what I had showed down at the table. In a lot of tournaments in the U.S. I've noticed people making absolutely absurd folds to me, and I can get away with a lot more because of the "tight female" stereotype. The benefits really depend on who's at the table, but I've had a lot of people show me their hands because I ask, and I get a lot of cool opportunities as one of the few young females in poker to sort of pave the way for other smart women to play poker, so it's cool to pioneer something that not a lot of people are doing at the moment.
PokerTips.org: As a female in a male-dominated arena, you must hear some pretty awful pick-up lines. Care to share any with us?
Weisner: Well, it's not really pick-up lines per se that I get, but more like, funny situations/ propositions that come up. For instance, once I had a hand in a NAPT side event where I shoved 15 bets with AJ, and the guy in the big blind said he had KQss and would call if I was willing to have dinner with him. I just started laughing (partially because I wasnt sure if I was all that excited getting it in as 55% instead of picking up the blinds and antes which were significant at that point, and partially because I really didn't want to go to dinner with him!)
PokerTips.org: What's the plan for the next few years?
Weisner: It's still pretty open, but I have been thinking about moving to Europe after the series so that I can play the entire EPT circuit this coming year. I feel like there's a lot of great opportunities ahead of me and a lot of great things happening in poker right now with the additional tours Pokerstars is putting out so I'm really excited to play live as much as possible.
PokerTips.org: What's the best poker-related memory you have?
Weisner: The first time I ever won the ten rebuy on stars! At the time I hadn't been playing tournaments for that long but the ten rebuy was like this elusive tournament that I was just dying to win and I played it every day and had a ton of ft bubbles in it. I won it for like $13k and that was the most amount of money I had ever seen in my account. I remember thinking I was such a baller when I bragged about it to all my friends and just felt like I was on top of the world!
PokerTips.org: Finally, do you have any advice for our readers hoping to make their way to the WSOP stage in the future?
Weisner: I'd say the most important thing for players looking to develop their game is to just play as much as possible and learn to trust yourself. Experience is the best teacher and when you get enough to finally feel comfortable enough with your capability that you trust yourself to make the best decision in any given situation, it's a great feeling, and that feeling of readiness to take on any opponent and scenario that comes your way is really what poker is all about.