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Poker Stories Podcast With Jamie Kerstetter

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Feb 13, 2019

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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: 36
Hometown: Monroe Township, New Jersey
Live Tournament Earnings: $645,000

Jamie Kerstetter has been a rising star in the poker world for the last few years, but her path to the profession was anything but typical. The New Jersey-native was a two-sport athlete at Rutgers University, and then earned her law degree from the University of Michigan. Her timing, however, couldn’t have been worse. Kerstetter passed the bar exam and landed a job, but the recession caused layoffs, leaving her without employment.

Rather than submit some more resumes, Kerstetter instead turned to poker, a hobby she had picked up in law school. Her original goal was just to win enough to extend her vacation, but soon, she was taking home enough to make it her full-time job. In addition to playing tournaments and cash games, Kerstetter has also appeared on Friday Night Poker, and Poker Night In America, and has done commentary for events at the Seminole Hard Rock, the Heartland Poker Tour, WPT Deepstacks, and even the World Series of Poker.

Highlights from this interview include a playful croutons, soccer at Rutgers, running a five-minute mile, jumping into law school blind, inter-tube water polo, why someone would be drunk at 8 a.m., witnessing a mental breakdown at the bar exam, the blessing of being fired, prolonging the poker vacation, splashing around in the private games, convincing mom that poker is a good idea, the $2 burrito diet, playing her ’husband’s chips,’ big pots on Poker Night In America, overcoming shyness with live poker commentary, a karmic payout for a late night, poker couple note sharing, envisioning a life of dog hoarding, and lap cats vs. jerk cats.

Top 5 Tournament Scores

Date Tournament Place Winnings
Sept. 2018 WPT Borgata Poker Open 12th $44,937
July 2016 WSOP Main Event 325th $32,130
June 2012 Venetian Deep Stack Omaha 8/ob 1st $26,530
June 2016 Wynn Summer Classic 7th $25,669
July 2011 WSOP Main Event 590th $21,295

The Highlights

On Choosing a Career in Law and Passing the Bar

Jamie Kerstetter: I was just like, “I’m going to take the LSAT.” I decided to do it right at the deadline.

Julio Rodriguez: This is your junior year of college? You were that far along and didn’t know what you wanted to do?

JK: I was so into [soccer] that I just didn’t care about anything else. I attacked the LSAT as you would a game. I studied last-minute, for the last few weeks. I think I got a couple practice tests and did them. Took the test and got a good enough score to get into the University of Michigan. And it was like, “Oh, I got into a top 10 school, I guess I’ll be a lawyer then.” This is how stupid I was when I was 18 and 19.

JR: Did you at least enjoy law school?

JK: No. I never had a lawyer in my family or anyone to warn me about what was going to happen. The first year of law school is awful. I had no idea. I had no idea that it was going to be so hard, and so competitive.

The people in my classes were all very smart, so you are having an identity crisis. I was no longer the smart kid, I was now an average person in this school. And I had to work really hard just to be average. They were all smart, hardworking, AND this was their dream. That’s what makes this so crazy. Everyone I talked to had been planning [a law career] for years, and their parents were lawyers… I was just like, “School is cool. I’ll just come here and read some more books, and I’m sure it will be great.”

JR: So you passed the bar in New Jersey?

JK: Yeah, that was a nightmare. That test… it’s like three months of studying for that test. That sucked. Got it out of the way. Some people graduate from law school, and never pass the bar. That’s the risk of going to a [bad] school.

JR: So the test was really a nightmare?

JK: Yeah! A guy across from me cried. This guy was sitting across from me at a long table, everyone was there for two, maybe three days actually. There’s multiple choice, and then there’s essays. This was a long time ago, I’m trying to jog my memory. But the one thing that stood out was that guy that sat across from me. We got five booklets we had to fill out in essay form, and he must have filled out three full booklets. You are just writing until your hand is numb. He gets to the fourth one, reads the question, and just stares at it. I noticed that this guy wasn’t doing anything, so at this point, I was interested. He closes the book, puts his head down and starts sobbing.

You can’t say anything because it would be cheating, but I wanted to kick him and tell him to just write anything. You’ve been here for two days, literally just write down buzz words you’ve heard from your classes. Who knows? Even if they give you one out of ten points, you still might have a chance. He didn’t, he sobbed, and he never opened his last booklet. That was it for him. ♠

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, Freddy Deeb, Joe Cada, 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.