Interview with a female professional poker player Athena Cate

Interview with a female professional poker player Athena Cate
Dec 30, 2016 NEWS

We had a chance to interview Ms Athena Cate (Twitter @athena_cate), a female professional poker player with a full-time career. Find out what her view is on managing her passion for poker and a full-time career in finance, and read about her advice to the players to improve their game.

Athena started playing poker about 7 years ago when her friends introduced her to the game. Since then, it became her passion and she has been playing tournaments for the last 2 years. Her goal is to win the main event in Vegas. She loves the game of poker and the psychology that goes with it. Outside of poker, Athena's passion is law, fashion, and to spend time with family. She lives in California and regularly plays at local casinos such as Bicycle in the Bell Gardens and The Gardens in the Hawaiian Gardens.

How do you prepare for the big games? Do you meditate, practice your skills, study opponents or do something else?

I usually study opponents, have a good night sleep, make sure I try to alleviate any stress. Also, I believe good diet is important which includes: food choice and juicing (lots of vitamins C).

Do you know of any poker books you would suggest to beginner players?

I would suggest to look up Doug Polk, he also has a website

It doesn't hurt to read as many books as much as possible. Reading multiple times to have the information sink in is useful. As long as it's a poker book, no matter who is the author will be helpful to the new players. You can always see a different perspective and observe in the games. Pick and choose what strategy may work best for your style of play. 

What is your opinion about playing poker online vs playing in live casinos?

I like live casinos better. It is better to do a table selection, you can see the players (sometimes there are really action players, tourists, new or advance players, etc.). You can see who's titling, what type of players are available. You can have a better tales about players, you can have a better idea how long the game will last. 

How do you recover from playing a bad bet? 

I go home to get a good night rest. Then I take at least couple of days off so that it's out of my system and also to be mentally stronger and recoup stamina. I know it works for some people to run the scenario over in their head when they get home. For me, I take notes, and come back to it when I'm not playing, perhaps a few days later. I can have a more logical analysis and I have cooled off already and would not be emotional. 

What are the poker tournaments you prefer to play at? 

I preferably like to play higher buy ins and higher guaranteed games. I like this field better even though it may be tougher. But the tougher field they are, the more predictable players can be than in the lower buy in games. This is because those players are all about trying to get lucky, trying to hit it big, or still new to the game. I like a more skill game similar to playing chess vs getting lucky and trying to win a black jack hand. However, I still play smaller buy ins because it's a good practice to deal with all type of players. Also, the games are shorter day of plays which suits me since I work and I do have a career and cannot always take time off to play poker.

What tournaments you plan to join next year?

I want to try and play the series in Vegas in the summer. Whether the main event or the 888. Depends on my work schedule and if I can get the time off.

Do you play other casino games apart from poker and if so what games do you like to play?

Yes, unfortunately, the baccarat. Don't ever start. Lol

Can you think of any other games in general that may help in poker skills training?

Chess, any video games or computer games that requires a lot of strategies.

What do you like to do when you do not play poker?

I work and I am a bit of a workaholic and spend time with family.

Do you think there are enough women in poker?

I don’t think there are enough women in poker, however this may change over time.

What advice would you give to women who want to start playing poker?

Need to have really thick skin. If you can't handle men needling you, put you down, don't do it. With that being said, not all men are like that. There are some nice ones too. 

Who are your favorite players to play poker with or against?

I really don't have a favorite. I play because I like the sport and the game. Everyone is a competitor. And I like to play against anyone I can learn from (whether to be like them or not to be like them lol)

Are there any real friends in professional poker world?  

No, there are no real friends. Real friends would never take each other’s money. If someone says there are real friends, then it is to make people believe they are.

Do you believe there can be genuine friendships and how could that affect the game?

I met a really good friend thru poker. We did not want to take each other’s money and did not want to play against each other. That's why I try not to play at the same table with friends, and if we do it, it becomes a really awkward situation. It is hard to play your own game whether it is to play aggressive, to bluff, check raise, etc or to take it down or to the river. So, it's bad for the game. But if there are no other choice like there’s only 1 game going then sometimes it happens that we play together.  You just have to make clear to each other that it is only poker and that we have to play a real game.

How much of poker success, in your view, is talent, practice, skill and luck?

For Cash games, I believe it is 60% skills, 20% luck, 20% money management. 

For Tournament games, it is more 60% luck, 20% skills, 20% chip management. 

Which win and also which loss is the one you remember the most and why?

The win I probably remember the most was a 12k pot against a guy. I remember this because it was such a thrill to be able to finally win against this person in a big pot. This person who always tried to tilt me and was needling me to tilt. I call raised with 10,9 hearts (very action game with Mississippi straddle), I had value and pot odds to call. I flopped the straight draw. On turn I made a nut straight with flush draw also. The river I also hit the flush draw, and the opponent gave me maximum action with his 2 pairs. 

The loss I remember the most was when I first started playing poker. I lost $6k pot flopping set of Kings, turning a full house and losing to quads of deuces. I went all in on the flop with the set of kings. Action player called with pocket deuces, he turned a 2, river 2. 

Let's just say that's how I learned to play the limit poker after that bad beat.


You can also read other interviews with female professional poker players. You can read an interview with Maria Ho as well as interview with Melanie Weisner. If you wish to sign up and play online you can click on the banner below to play with Poker Stars or you can click on the news section to read about top poker players of 2016. Feel free to comment and engage with us.