Poker Skill Sharpening: PokerStars Ambassador Jen Shahade Offers Three Tips to Get Your Game in Order

26 Apr 2023
Sean Chaffin 26 Apr 2023
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  • Be aware of what's going on
  • Plan occasional big moves for the river
  • Rest your body well
Jen Shahade (credit: PokerStars/Eloy Cabacas)

Jen Shahade's Top Tips & Poker Strategy

Pennsylvania-based online poker player Jen Shahade has worked with PokerStars for eight years. The Stars ambassador advocates for the game’s growth and additional legalization in the U.S. – and is a pretty good player as well.

The Philadelphia native is a regular at the live and online tables as well as games of the mind. Along with her skills at the poker felt, Shahade also scores big at a chess board. She’s an Olympic chess champion, a two-time U.S. women’s champion, and the first female to win the U.S. Junior Open.

Her 2021 book Chess Queens: The True Story of a Chess Champion and the Greatest Female Players of All Time also earned some nice reviews. Shahade also hosts The Heart of Poker podcast.

Shahade recently spoke with PokerWired from the PokerStars Players Championship in the Bahamas. She gave players three tips to  help ramp up their poker skills, which can work at both the live and online tables.

Be Aware of What's Going On

This may sound obvious, but taking in elements of the game some players might not consider can pay dividends in the long run.

“I think players can try in between hands to make sure they're aware of how many chips people have,” Shahade says. “It's really exhausting. There’s a lot of fatigue in poker. And just so many times I've seen people raise and then be like, ‘Oh my God, I didn't realize you had so little.’

“That can change everything with what you open with. Really be aware of that mental fatigue. One thing I do is when I go on break, I always check the stats right then because I know that I'm then going to have 15 minutes to relax, and I'll remember when I get back. So that's pretty useful.”

Plan Occasional Big Moves for the River

Always be a move or two ahead. That’s the idea Shahde hopes to get across with this next concept. Some deep planning when considering a flop may send a pot your way that you might not have otherwise won.

”I also think that people should try thinking about how they can get all in by the river, especially if they're putting their opponent at risk, because a lot of people really don't like to call off all their chips,” she says. “So you can have a lot of really successful bluffs and also eventually get a lot of credit for your value bets if you are calculating in advance about how to get your opponent all in by the river.”

Many high-level players make these kinds of moves, Shahade adds, and much of this is already thought out beforehand.

“You can watch how the pros are able to do it and look at how they're betting a certain amount on the flop, and then a certain amount on the turn and the river,” she says. “And somehow they're all in on the river. They've actually planned that from the beginning of the hand.

“I think people don't always realize that. It's actually all planned and every sizing is constructed in order to try to do that, from both a theoretical point of view, but also a practical point of view. People really do not like to call off their tournament life, it scares them. And conversely, if you're not going all in, people like to call a lot. So I think there's that really important dynamic.”

Rest Your Body Well

Even long hours at the online poker tables can be tiring. Live tournament players also experience hours and hours at the table. Shahade believes some quality time in bed is imperative for poker players to perform their best.

“I think when you're playing a tournament, you really have to prioritize sleep,” she says. “Try to figure out in advance when you go to a tournament how to get good sleep. If there's a nightclub, request a floor that's not close to it. Find a white noise machine because the research coming out about the correlation between your cognitive powers and sleep is just so compelling. So you’ve really got to do anything you can to be rested.”

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