Poker Jobs: PokerStars Women Community Manager “A Poker Journalist...in 140 Characters”

  • Mark Bonington
Kristalina Steininger

"Literally everything I do is poker," laughed Kristalina Steininger when we met, fresh from a run of bad beats at the Aria Casino in Las Vegas.

"It's funny, actually, because I'm recently single and my friends were talking to me about dating. I think I need to get some new hobbies because whenever I go out with someone poker is all I can talk about. I work in it. I play it. I like to talk about it. And mostly they don't get it. I could only date guys in the poker industry, but that's a pretty narrow pool ... Maybe I need to stop being such a degenerate poker freak?"

But a 'degenerate poker freak' seems to be exactly what it takes to become Community Manager for a website like PokerStars Women. As the woman at the controls of the website's content and social media, Steininger must stay on the cutting edge, informing the site's followers of the victories and movements in women's poker from around the world in real time. Not to mention getting them as excited about the topic as she is.

Inspired by players like Vanessa Selbst and Adrienne "talonchick" Rowsome, landing her current Community Manager role is, Steininger says, her "crowning achievement." But something which took many years of work and dedication both on and off the felt.

Like many modern online roles, Steininger describes hers as an "all the time job." And clearly, it is not the occupation for anyone who just wants to work the regular 9-to-5.

"As long as I have this," she says, brandishing her iPhone, "then I'm working."

But, what does it take to land a role like Community Manager for PokerStars?

"I had a digital marketing and social media background through working for the MGM Casino, and I'm a female who plays poker, so when this position came up I told them they didn't have to look any further. But I live and breathe social media, so I love it."

Living and breathing poker is, naturally, a pre-requisite of the role too. Although she describes her obsession with the game as both "a blessing and a curse," as any player will know, the relationship with the cards can be a deeply conflicted one.

"There have been lots of times when I've said, 'That's it. I quit. I hate poker. Poker sucks. This game is torture! Why do I do this to myself?'" says Steininger.

But she concedes that "It's like anything. You have to study and you have to do your homework. I have studied poker for hours and I've read load of books. If you dedicate yourself to the game, you will get there."

Travel is something else inherent in so many roles within the poker industry, and Kristalina has done her share of globetrotting in the name of work. Not all of it, she is quick to point out, is glamorous.

She enjoyed her time in Dublin, and relished traveling to various cities round the world to play events. She loved playing poker in Morocco, but describes living on the Isle of Man as “hell.” Any opportunity to live abroad, she admits, is an opportunity to soak up new experiences and cultures.

But aside from the jet setting, I was curious as to what the day-to-day duties of her role are?

In short, "making a really cool community for women," says Steininger.

"I thought PokerStars had done an amazing job of providing stellar content, but the site and social media needed more of a voice. I've tried to develop a character that is a genuine female poker player. I'm trying to offer something that is a fun and light way to connect people to their passion. I have to strike a balance between letting it become too feminine and baffling people with industry talk."

As a marketer of the game as well as a player, she must appeal to both the seasoned professionals and those new to the game. As such, Steininger sees it as her goal to provide a "safe" space for potential female players, in the same way that ladies events (something she is regularly involved with) make the same offering in the live setting. As such, using the right language in roles like these is paramount to transfer information in an easily digestible way to the right audiences.

"Before I started, you wouldn't have seen phrases like 'ship it' or 'sick bad beat,'" she points out, but it is all part of her ongoing communication strategy for the site.

Yet what Steininger loves most about the job, she says, is the freedom and creative expression it gives her.

"I once read that when you're passionate about your work it's no longer job, and I truly feel that way. I'm a poker journalist, but in 140 characters. I get to do my homework on who is doing what and these female wins.

"Whenever there is an event and Victoria, Vanessa or whoever wins, I tweet about it on @PokerStarsWomen. I get excited about it, and I love seeing how many other people the post can reach and seeing other people celebrating that win. It's a feel-good feeling. It's winning all the way."

So what advice would Steininger give for someone wanting to follow in her footsteps?

"Really sticking to what you're passionate about and not being defeated," is her first pearl of wisdom. She is also quick to warn that poker is still a testosterone-fuelled world and not for the faint-hearted. She was warned away herself, initially, and told that landing a job in such a male-dominated environment would prove difficult at the time. Refusing to be defeated, she has carved her own path and developed a passion for promoting female players and encouraging other girls to get involved with the game.

Naturally, it's a trait that makes her ideally suited to her current Community Manager role. "I've never met someone who said 'I truly dedicated myself and I didn't get there,'" she finishes proudly. "You just never hear that."

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