Last month, we reported that PokerStars would be issuing a Platinum Pass to a special woman who either “has made an impact on poker” or “is an inspirational woman in poker.” A tremendous amount of nominations poured in over the ensuing weeks, highlighting poker playing women from all over the world, so much so that rather than the originally planned six finalists, it has just been announced that nine finalists have been shortlisted. There are, in alphabetical order:

  • Daiva Byrne – Professional poker player (UK)
  • Meichelle Culhane – Volunteer poker teacher for senior citizens (USA)
  • Giada Shiyan Fang – Professional poker player (Malta)
  • Jan Fisher – Partner in Card Player Cruises (USA)
  • Terry Hatcher – Business owner, tournament director, and dealer (USA)
  • Christina Read – Bank sales executive turned semi poker pro (USA)
  • Aurélie Reard – Professional poker player (Wales)
  • Alexis Sterner – Registered nurse (USA)
  • Katie Stone – Professional poker player (USA)

The promotion’s original plans called for a live Sit & Go to take place among the nine finalists, with the winner of the poker competition receiving the Platinum Pass. As per a PokerStars spokesperson: “Due to the current global situation, we can’t put a date on the live final, but we will arrange this to happen before the PSPC takes place. As for the PSPC itself, we continue to monitor the situation and will keep players updated in advance if there is any change to current plans.”

In the meanwhile, we connected with one of the finalists, Alexis Sterner. The 30-year-old Orlando, Florida native has been playing poker since she was 18 and has over $70,000 in lifetime live poker earnings, with results dating back to the summer of 2014. On the front lines in the war being waged against the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re especially grateful to Lexi for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope you enjoy the brief Q&A below, as we get to know a very special woman a little better.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a registered nurse and poker player. I was born and raised in Florida and I am currently practicing as a registered nurse full time while playing poker. I have always been an extremely competitive person, but I always knew I wanted a career where I could help others. Nursing and poker allow me to fulfill both of these desires.

How does it feel to be a Platinum Pass finalist?

It’s such an honor. Poker has been such a huge part of my life for over a decade. I genuinely love everything about this game, and to be chosen for something as prestigious as a Platinum Pass would be a dream come true. Working as a nurse in this current time has been difficult and news like this really brightened my day. This game has given me so much and I would love nothing more than to use poker to give back.

How did you get into poker?

In 2008, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given a 5% chance of five-year survival. My uncle would come over and play poker with him to keep him busy. I started playing with them and instantly fell in love, I couldn’t get enough. My dad ultimately beat the odds and is still with us, we say he hit the one outer.

This inspired me to go to nursing school and I played poker throughout college. I studied and worked my way up in stakes, all while meeting so many amazing people. Then my mom’s kidneys failed in 2019 and a dealer from my local casino, who had never met her, got tested to see if he was a match and without hesitation donated a kidney to my mom.

This game has done so much for me, and I’d love nothing more than to win a Platinum Pass and have a platform to donate a percentage of my earnings to pancreatic cancer and organ donation charities. I would also love to share how amazing our poker community is.

What do you enjoy about poker?

I’ve always been extremely competitive. Poker is the ultimate mind game and competition and it fills that need for me. I love that the game is always evolving, you’re always having to adjust, learn, and grow. I love the complexity of it and how challenging it can be. I also truly love the community. Working as a nurse during COVID-19 hasn’t been easy but I cannot begin to tell you how supportive this community has been for me.

How do you think we can encourage more women to get into poker?

I think women are often intimidated at the thought of sitting down at a table full of men, so I think overcoming that is a huge obstacle. However, I think women are just as competitive as men and many would fall in love with the game if they began playing. I think it’s important to keep the environment welcoming if we want more women to play and also show more women in poker in mainstream media.

Alexis Sterner

Do you think there are any advantages to being a woman playing poker?

I definitely think there are advantages to being a woman in poker. I know that when I sit down at a table, I’m often initially underestimated. I also know that sometimes I’m able to pull the trigger in some spots that some players think “a woman wouldn’t do”. I play a very aggressive style of poker and I think this gets a lot of men off of their game. I also think women read people very well and are extremely intelligent and competitive and all of these qualities translate very well to poker.

What would you say to women who are intimidated by the game of poker?

I would tell them that anything new is always intimidating but you can’t let that stop you. The majority of this community is very welcoming and understanding and it’s often a very fun and social environment.

What is your advice to future female leaders in poker?

One of my favorite things about women in poker is the camaraderie. I have met so many great women in poker and were all so supportive of one another. I think it’s extremely important for us to stay this way. Rather than being competitive with one another it’s important for us to unite together. There aren’t many women who play and we have a unique perspective to share.

What more can women and men do to create better gender balance in society?

I think we’ve come a long way in gender balance but for me the best thing we can do is pursue our passions and interests regardless of whether or not they fit the stereotype for our gender and also to be accepting when others do so as well.

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