Poker Coverage: Poker Tournaments Casino News Sports Betting Poker Strategy

Poker Stories Podcast With Kelly Minkin

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Jan 16, 2019


Poker Stories is a long-form audio podcast series that features casual interviews with some of the game’s best players and personalities. Each episode highlights a well-known member of the poker world and dives deep into their favorite tales both on and off the felt.

Age: 31
Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Live Tournament Earnings: $1.3 Million

Top Five Tournament Scores

Date Tournament Place Winnings
Feb. 2015 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open 3rd $262,912
July 2015 WSOP Main Event 29th $211,821
July 2018 WSOP Main Event 50th $156,265
Aug. 2013 Arizona State Poker Championship 2nd $151,983
Oct. 2018 WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble 3rd $146,973

Kelly Minkin missed the poker boom completely, and has only been playing tournaments for the last five years, but she has already established herself as a top competitor on the circuit. Minkin was twice the last woman standing in the World Series of Poker main event, taking 29th in 2015 and 50th last summer. She also has two World Poker Tour final table appearances, taking third in both the 2015 Lucky Hearts Poker Open and the 2018 bestbet Bounty Scramble.

In total, the 31-year-old has racked up more than $1.3 million in live tournament earnings, and she’s done so mostly while holding down a full-time job. Minkin had her sights set on a career in medicine as a surgeon, but after taking the LSAT on a whim, she got into law school. She decided to finish it out, and eventually took a job with a Phoenix-area law firm, spending her days working with clients and her nights at the poker tables.

Highlights from this interview include spelling bee words, having very specific goals, heads-up in front of Hellmuth, science’s lack of fluidity, being the green M&M, completely missing the poker boom, playing tournaments for dad, lawyer by day-poker pro by night, electrocuted strippers, last-minute trips to South America, two WSOP last-woman-standing titles, $25,000 pots at Commerce with Danny Wong, getting fired from Abercrombie & Fitch, busting from a tournament with three cards, listening to ‘cool guy’ music, arm wrestling for cash, and trimming the end for free.

The Highlights

On how she decided to get into law…

“So I decided, let’s just go to law school for fun, for a year. (You had been studying molecular biology this whole time. It’s not like you could just cold take the LSAT and get into law school. That would be crazy, right?) Yeah, that’s crazy, but that’s kind of what I did. I took a practice LSAT at the University of Arizona for fun, because I heard it was something like an IQ test. I went in blind, but scored high enough to get into law school. So I took the [real] LSAT… and realized that law school just wasn’t that hard. I figured, I’ll just finish this.”

On working two jobs, at the law firm and at the poker table…

“This is the sickest part of this story. I was working full-time as an attorney, my first year as a full-time attorney. It was a lot [on my plate.] I would leave work early on Friday, fly to a tournament stop, fly back Monday morning at 6 a.m. with my work clothes packed with me and go straight to the office from the airport. I wasn’t messing around. I was a hustler, let’s just say that. I was hustling hard.”

On the most horrible job she had before poker…

“In high school, I worked at Abercrombie & Fitch. It was miserable. I was paid $5.25 per hour. And then I got fired because they accused me stealing! Or, [more accurately], being a lookout for a girl that was stealing. I would never steal. The job was a lot of work for not a lot of money. We had to constantly spray the perfume on all of the clothes, and that would really bother me. The worst part was the dressing rooms. Yikes. I don’t like folding and putting away my own clothes. What makes you think I want to do that for a 14-year-old girl?”

You can check out the entirety of the interview in the audio player at the top of the page or download it directly to your device to play on the go from iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Justin Bonomo, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Bryn Kenney, Mike Sexton, Brian Rast, Scott Seiver, Freddy Deeb, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho and many more. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes automatically when they are released.