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Shirley Rosario

Autobiographical profile by Shirley Rosario

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Shirley Rosario SirenI have lived in Southern California all of my life. I was born in San Pedro, grew up in Torrance and then moved to Downey so I could be close to the casinos.

The casino business was something that I stumbled on accidentally, but it has been great for me and I can't imagine working in any other profession now. I was introduced to the business more than fifteen years ago when one of my Aunts who worked in the casino business pulled a few strings to get me a job as a cocktail waitress at the Commerce Casino. I had been a waitress since I was sixteen and worked at almost every restaurant in the South Bay, but I had no experience serving cocktails. The bar manager decided to take a chance on me even though I was rough around the edges. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that my Aunt was very well liked and probably the hottest chick in the casino. I worked four nights a week while going to school at L.A. Harbor College. I was taking my general education classes and was going to transfer to Cal State Long Beach to get my teaching credentials. I worked really hard for two years (even made the honor roll), but as soon as it was time to transfer, I changed my mind. I was making a lot of money in the casino and I knew that I would be taking a pay cut if I pursued a teaching career. I took a break from school so I could decide what I wanted to do with my life. It was during that time that I discovered poker.

A few years after I started the job at Commerce, I started learning the game of poker. I would often stop and talk with specific customers in the midst of their hand and they would help me understand the game. There was one player I talked to most and he was a regular in the $6-12 Omaha Hi/Low game. By talking with him, I met Steve Badger. Steve and I bonded instantly and he suggested that I play an upcoming Omaha event. He asked that I get there a little early so he could discuss some tournament strategy with me. I did exactly that and ended up finishing in the money (ninth place). I played a few more Omaha Hi/Low tournaments after that and made the money in a high percentage of them. I think I placed in five of the first seven tournaments I played (yeah. I know. I was spoiled). During all of them, Steve was there to watch me and help me with any weaknesses in my game. To this day, he is still my mentor and my best friend.

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Steve was not the only professional I met during my time at Commerce. I met some of the greatest players in the world and many of them were happy to help me out. I had strategy discussions with  Mark Seif, Amir Vahedi, Mel Judah, and Men the Master to name a few, but it was Steve that spent hours on end with me. I finally had my "break through" in 2003. I finished work early on a Saturday night and decided to play an Omaha satellite. I won it and pocketed $1,000. I jumped in another satellite and won it too. I called Steve on my way home and told him what happened and admitted that I wasn't sure if I could part with $1,000 of the $2,000 I had just won for the next day's Omaha Hi/Lo event. I had never played a tournament with a buy-in that large before and $1,000 seemed like a fortune. He suggested that I go the casino early and play one more satellite. If I happened to win, I should put myself into the tournament. If I didn't win, then I could skip the event. I didn't win my satellite the next day and went to tell Steve about it. The tournament was only 20 minutes away and he was sitting at a table with a few guys most of who I hadn't met before. He told them the story about me winning the night before and one of them really tried to encourage me to play. That guy was the Prince of Docness. Steve told him, "If you want her to play, then why don't you put up $100 for her." All five people, including Dennis Waterman, at the table ended up putting $100 up for me and I paid the other $500 to get into the event. I finished in second place ($27,740) losing to Phil Hellmuth Jr. and I was hooked.

Shirley RosarioDuring that series of tournaments, Steve and I came up with the idea about a poker website that would promote women in poker. I also thought it would be a good idea to do profiles of well-known tournament players because there was virtually no information on the web at that time besides their results stats (What a change now!). I knew many of the players from playing or working at the Commerce and I thought people would be interested in reading about their favorite players from someone who knew them, especially since the World Poker Tour just started airing. So that is how Poker-Babes.com was born.

I left my job as a cocktail waitress shortly after my second place finish and spent the next year and half making most of my money playing online poker. In 2003, I accepted a job as a prop player at the Bicycle Casino. Robert Turner had been asking me to work at the Bike for about six months and I finally decided to give it a shot. I spent hours and hours at the casino playing a wide variety of games and the experience helped me fine tune my game. During my time as a prop, I started playing No Limit cash games and eventually took on additional duties as one of the No Limit Hosts.

The Bicycle Casino started a live Internet broadcast in the beginning of 2005 and asked me if I wanted to be one of the commentators. The show would feature one cash game (usually No Limit Holdem) and two commentators would discuss the hands while they were being played out. I accepted the job and performed this duty in addition to my prop duties. The show eventually got picked up by the Poker Channel and was edited and aired under the name "The L.A. Poker Scene." At the end of 2005, I decided to focus more on playing and working on my website, so I left my job at the Bike. Unfortunately my plans were slowed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2006. I was fortunate that I caught my cancer early, but I still had to go through chemo and radiation. It was a long year, but I came out of it on top and have been cancer free ever since.

I play H.O.R.S.E. and No Limit Holdem tournaments, but I consider my best game to be Omaha High-Low and have several final table finishes in the game. Besides finishing second to Phil in the 2003 LA Poker Classic Omaha event, I won the 2005 Legends of Poker Omaha Championship and the 2007 Big Poker Oktober Omaha Hi/Low event. I also have a first place finish in No Limit Hold'em at the 2004 Grand Slam of Poker No Limit Holdem Shootout, and I won a HORSE event three years in a row at the 2009 California State HORSE Poker Championship2010 California State Poker Championship, and the 2011 LA Poker Classic. I've done pretty well in tournaments, but I know I've made a lot of mistakes too that have cost me shots at the final table. Fortunately my game keeps improving so I know I'll have more chances. I am proud of myself though for being one of the few women players to actually win multiple events, rather than just make it into the money.

When I am not playing, I make money on the business side of poker. I started this website in 2003, sold it to PokerStars in 2010, and then continued to run the site as a consultant for a couple of years. During the time I was consulting with PokerStars on my website, I also consulted with them on SEO and helped write their guidelines. In addition to this site, I have started a couple of others including Poker Vibe, Poker Journeys and ShirleyRosario.com. I have also written several articles for poker publications, and appeared in the Poker for Dummies video along with Chris Moneymaker.

See also this 2005 interview with Casino.com Magazine

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