PASADENA – Beginners’ luck doesn’t begin to describe World Poker Championship contestant Euna Jee. The 25-year-old aspiring real estate agent walked into the Commerce Casino last week having never played a professional hand of poker. Two days later, Jee won the Los Angeles Poker Classic’s Ladies No Limit Hold ’em tournament – and $15,000 in prize money. “She proves that it doesn’t take years of experience to win a top tournament in poker,” said tournament director Cheri Dokken, “just passion for the game.” The big win has guaranteed the Pasadena resident a spot in the World Poker Tour’s celebrity invitational – a haunt of stars such as James Woods, Mimi Rogers and Jennifer Tilly. But perhaps the biggest prize of all for her is that Commerce Casino will now sponsor her $25,000 buy-in for entry into April’s World Poker Championship, one of the most prestigious events in the game. Coming from what she describes as a traditional Korean family that looks down on all forms of gambling, Jee said she never expected to be in this position. “If I go to a casino I didn’t even put a dollar in the machine,” she said of her previous attitude toward gambling. Jee said she wouldn’t have picked up poker if she hadn’t met her husband – professional player Michael Yoshino. A San Marino native who honed his skills while on a tour of duty in Iraq and Kuwait with the Marine Corps Reserve, he has won as much as $100,000 in a tournament. When they met, Jee said she was skeptical about his line of work. “But I see he always wins and is putting away savings and is able to make a living out of it,” she said. “I was thinking, hmm.” Once they began dating, Yoshino taught her to play poker so she would have something to do while he played in tournaments. She read book after book on strategy and skill. Then she started playing cash games at casinos – and winning. “I found out poker is about a mind game. It’s very involved in a lot of psychology. You have to stay on top of the other person’s head,” she said. Yoshino said he never doubted Jee’s ability. “She is very smart woman. She picks up on things very quickly,” he said. But Yoshino might soon wish he’d never taught Jee to play. He will also be playing in the World Poker Championship. “Hopefully, we won’t be at the same table,” Jee said. [email protected] (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4494160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!