The day before she was set to play the 2023 World Series of Poker Main Event, Alexandra Botez took a lap and walked around the Horseshoe Events Center – taking in the sights and sounds of one of the biggest tournaments of the year. Today, she’s seated as part of the WSOP Main Event field on Day 1D, playing the event for the very first time.
“I’m having a good time so far,” Alexandra said. “At Level 1 it was a really nice start, I was running hot, my bluffs were getting through and I ended up with 82K. This [Level 2] I was pretty card dead then I ended up getting a flush against a guy who had pocket kings who hit a set on the flop and now I’m at around 90K…so it’s been a really nice start.”
It’s been a big year, poker-wise, for the Woman FIDE Master. She captured her first tournament win earlier this year and, more prominently, made reoccurring appearances on Hustler Casino Live where she is reportedly up more than $500,000 lifetime. But it’s not her cash game experience that she’s relying on for her early Day 1D success.
“I think more than anything I’ve played a lot of tournaments this year. I’ve played in the Bahamas, in Monte Carlo, in Barcelona, and then I’ve played in Vegas as well. So I think just getting experience in tournaments, because you gotta put in the hours, has been really helpful and I just haven’t had it in me to grind tournaments online yet, so I need to do it in person.”
Even players with some experience have a tendency to get nervous when playing the Main Event, there’s just so much on the line. But with her extensive chess resume and expanding experience in tournaments, Alexandra clearly has any potential early nerves under control.
“I definitely get nervous in certain situations where I think I might be getting coolered or something like that. Or just when I’m making a big bluff…but no, I’m just trying to do my best and have fun with it,” said Botez who was put in the event by a sponsor. “In the worst case, I lose nothing but I’m so competitive I really want to do well anyway, obviously.”
Her background in chess could have prepared her for any pressure of playing in the Main Event, but it turns out, when it comes to the hordes or people and the pure spectacle of the WSOP Main Event, there’s nothing really in that game that can compare to the spectacle of the WSOP.
“There are some really big open chess tournaments, like the World Open or the Las Vegas festival. They tried to do the Millionaire Chess event a while ago so those big open tournaments are probably the closest thing to [the WSOP], but it’s nothing that is just everyone in the same group who all feel like they have a chance [to win it] and that’s what’s really special about poker.”