WPA Spotlight – Carolyn Grad

Meet the wonderful Carolyn! She managed to play online in the LIPS “Girls Night In” game every Monday night and made it to the top of the leaderboard in both 2019 and 2020. She played in the Tournament of Champions Invitational and guess what? SHE WON IT BACK TO BACK! Amazing job and congratulation Carolyn!

Carolyn Grad
Medicine Hat Alberta Canada

1) How did you first get started in poker?

My family had to contend with my journey of becoming a poker player. Along with 35 yeas as a school teacher I worked part time in the casino industry, dealing all games, pitting and supervising mostly black jack and roulette. As a player it was impossible to beat the house consistently playing black jack. So about 15 years ago I started playing poker recreationally and online for fun money. Since both my husband and I were teachers we knew the value of education and decided to improve our knowledge and skills. After taking our first basic tournament WPT Bootcamp, I became a fierce contender, winning my first major tournament for over 90 grand. In my stats it shows me as second place cause I sold the title along with a mans watch for 10,000 dollars! That took me to a CPT invitational where I placed 3 for 2009 and went on to a 4th place finish in the WPS. I was on a roll. So I resigned from teaching and started playing poker seriously, travelling the world at the same time. Playing in the Aussie millions, EPT, Caribbean poker tour and a few card player cruises as well as 3x a year to Vegas has all been a blast.

2) Tell us about an unusual or unique experience you’ve had while playing poker.

I was due to fly home from Las Vegas on the morning of the inaugural Ladies Venetian Tournament back in 2009. Instead, I sent my husband on his way home alone, missing my flight and I told him that my work wasn’t done yet and wanted to play in the Venetian ladies tournament. At that time men were still allowed to play as they considered us ladies an easy target. Many would dress up in drag encouraged by friends and even their mothers. In this tournament one man in particular was very aggressive. He went in to Day 2 in first place, and I was in 12th out of 12. When day two started we were at different tables and I accumulated a few chips. When we went to the final table the best thing that could happen was that he was seated on my right. So I could wait in anticipation and trap. There were two other women at my table who really targeted him and wore him down. Together we managed to knock him out in 5 th place… phew that was a close one. I battled some fierce competitors and took first place. I received my beautiful marble trophy in a red velvet box. As I didn’t want to pack it into my checked baggage I took it out of the box and put it into my carry-on. As I boarded the plane, it was whisked away from me and stowed, as the pilot was in a hurry to get us off the runway since the president was due to land. Unfortunately my trophy broke during this ordeal.

3) How can you describe your poker play? Any poker experience you are most proud of?

I would say I am Tight Agressive, however my game has loosened up from my early years. My biggest glory was my first major win in 2008. I was still very much a rookie player but had taken my first WPT Bootcamp And really just absorbed all that information. I played at CASH Casino in Calgary usually just for small stakes. I won a $100 Buy in which also awarded me a ticket into a $750 tournament. It had three day ones with 175 players each day.Since I would never have outlaid that kind of cash in those days I decided that I should play it rather than sell it to the many people wanting to buy it from me. In preparation I studied hard and visualized myself winning the tournament. Again I went in to Day 2 as an underdog, short stacked and in 47 th place. That night I studied Harringtons short play strategies. I was ready. A big tournament moment came when I went all in on the button, after it folded around to me with my now favorite 69 suited hand. The small blind called with AQ and my heart sank. We were down to the final two tables and there was a crowd of onlookers. I became the new sensation when I managed to get a full house. That and give me the confidence and the chips to back it up to take me to the win. This is the tournament where I sold my first place claim to the second place player for $10,000as he wanted his picture on the wall and the Movado mens watch.

4) What were some of the unexpected hurdles in poker?

I think the psychological game is the biggest hurdle. You have to get past yourself, be able to handle bad beats and move on. If I can just tell one person my bad beat story then it seems like it it’s off my chest and onto the next. I often jump out of one tournament and into another. During one 6 week stint at the WSOP, I played 42 tournaments and saw more than my share of bad beats…. but I also had 7 first place finishes and more cashes.

5) Have you ever played against a Poker Pro, and how was that experience?

I have played against many pros. The first one that intimidated me was Chris Moneymaker. It was during a very busy time at the Venetian during the World Series and I decided to move up in my cash play. They seated me in a nice quiet room at the back and who should sit down at my table and Buy in for the max was Chris money maker. First hand out, a player on my left who had also only bought in for the minimum , gets It all in against Moneymaker preflop with AA. Chris’s 10 10 turns into quads. I just saw all my chips melting away and asked for a table change. Many people said they would’ve paid me for that seat! On another instance, I was fortunate to win my seat into the $10,000 poker masters at the Aria. The room was full of young men and only two other women. I was not proud of my play that day, but it got my jitters out and hopefully now I’m ready to play in the WSOP Main Event.

6) Looking back at where you were when you started your poker journey, what are your poker goals going forward?

My goal is to continue representing and supporting women in poker. I would like play in the WSOP main event. It would’ve happened in 2020 but the pandemic shut that all down. I hope to continue playing on cardplayer cruises and travelling the world. *

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