Arden Cho Reflects on PGT Controversy, Continuing to Learn and Her Future in Poker

Last week, Arden Cho finished as runner-up to Daniel Smiljkovic in the PGT Championship, winning $200,000 in the process.

Cho is no stranger to the PokerGO studio, having previously gambled with Phil Hellmuth on No Gamble, No Future and has played in several cash games at the venue. But this result felt like a step forward in the actress’s poker career, and she spoke with PokerNews about her experience and where her poker journey would take her next.

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Cho’s Tournament Experience

Thanks to tournament sponsor Eat Mezcla, Cho found herself seated in a star-studded field and played on Day 1 with the likes of Chance KornuthArtur Martirosyan and 2023 WSOP Main Event Champion Daniel Weinman.

“Everyone in the field was a top pro,” she told PokerNews. “So every situation was tough! I had to make so many tough calls and tough folds. When it got down to about 14 players, I felt like I folded my way to the final six.

“But I was having a great time watching, learning as I was going and adjusting to the game. I spoke with Maria Ho before the tournament, and she gave me a ton of advice and a lot of help. I almost gave up multiple times when I got down to like 15 big blinds, but the support was tremendous, and somehow I held on and got doubles when they counted.”

Making it through Day 1 was “unreal”, says Cho, but with Day 2 seeing Cho make her first major final table, she says that nerves played a huge part.

“I didn’t have much of a game plan, I just didn’t want to bust first,”

“I didn’t have much of a game plan. I just didn’t want to bust first,” she admitted. “Brian Kim went over some scenarios with me and explained ICM, and gave me as many final table tips/advice as he could.

“Initially, I planned to play fairly snugly. I was coming in as a shorter stack with very little final table experience, so I was just hoping to make the pay jumps and let the guys battle it out.”

The advice worked, with Cho working her way through the final table and showing real tournament know-how to make the most of her deep run.

Arden Cho

“As the blinds were picking up, I felt like I really had to pick some spots to survive. I also just adjusted to how I felt everybody was playing [against] me. I knew I was the weakest player at the table; my blinds were always attacked, and everyone played fairly aggressively.

“This is what I love about tournament poker, I’m learning so much every single time I play”

“There was a KX4X four-bet bluff when we were three-handed – that was my first time ever trying something like that, and I never knew you could do things like that with certain combinations of hands and apply pressure to players because of ICM. It was so exciting to try! Probably more exciting that it was successful. After the tournament, I spoke to Brian and told him that if I hadn’t spoken to him, I think I would’ve gotten 5th or 6th.

“But again, this is what I love about tournament poker, I’m learning so much every single time I play.”

Cho says the heads-up against Smiljkovic was a “mental battle”, and although it didn’t go her way on this occasion, she says she was always realistic about her chances and is looking forward to taking what she’s learned and applying it to future occasions.

“I knew I had no shot unless I got super lucky,” she confessed. “He’s too good. I have no heads-up experience. I’m sure my play was atrocious. I made a bad call in the end when I thought he only had 11 big blinds to actually double him up for over 17 big blinds.

“But he deserves the trophy. He’s a better player, and I’m so glad to have had the experience because I definitely learned a few things from playing Dan heads-up!”

Arden Cho

Dealing with Adversity at the Tables

An incident on Day 1 of the PGT Championship got the poker world talking, with many believing that Jeff Lennon had gone too far with the way he interacted with the former Teen Wolf and Partner Track star.

While appearing intoxicated, Lennon quizzed Cho on everything from her status as an amateur player to whether she had a boyfriend, even going so far as to question her sexuality. When asked, Cho said that this happens “just about every time” she sits down to play poker.

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“This was just a small glimpse of what it’s like being a woman at a poker table,” she said. “So you can just imagine how bad it can get. Hopefully, moments like these being caught on stream and people voicing their opinions will change the way men act with women at the poker table.

“As someone who loves poker and hopes more women play – I’m thankful for the allies speaking out and having our backs in those spots. I’m a bit immune to it, but I do hope for change and see it slowly happening.”

Cho told PokerNews that Lennon had, in fact, reached out to her in the aftermath to apologize.

“I believe his intentions weren’t malicious, and he might have just had a few too many tequila shots!” she said before adding: “There are also a lot of really stand-up men in the poker community who are very welcoming to recreational and women players.”

Looking to the Future

Cho says that going forward, balancing life with poker and her career in acting will become more difficult as she heads off to film her next project, but she insists that her poker hobby will still provide her with ample learning experiences.

“With acting, I put in an insane amount of preparation and work prior to filming, and even while filming, I’m constantly putting in work. I suppose if I want to keep playing tournaments, I should do the same for poker — but can you blame me for wanting to keep it fun and exciting?

“I think I put the chips in bad at least four times this tournament and said ‘Oops’. Because there’s always a chance to get lucky! I still try to learn from my mistakes every time I play, but it’s more of a “learn as you go” style. I’ve had so much fun playing a bunch of tournaments in 2023. I can’t promise a tonne of tournaments, but expect to see me on the felt on my days off – especially if I’m invited to any other cool tournaments!”

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