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Poker Stories Podcast With Jennifer Harman

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Sep 09, 2020

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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.

To listen, visit www.cardplayer.com/poker-podcasts or download it directly to your device from any number of mobile apps, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or Spotify. 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, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho, Joe Cada, Freddy Deeb, and many more.

Age: 55
From: Reno, Nevada
Live Tournament Earnings: $2.6 Million

Top Live Tournament Scores

Date Tournament Place Winnings
March 2005 WSOP Circuit $10,000 Championship 2nd Place $383,840
March 2008 WPT $10,000 Bay 101 Shooting Star 3rd Place $330,000
Dec. 2004 WPT $15,000 Five Diamond World Poker Classic 4th Place $299,492
May 2002 WSOP $5,000 Limit Hold’em 1st Place $212,440
June 2010 WSOP $10,000 Stud 8/OB 3rd Place $173,159

Jennifer Harman is one of the most prolific card players in history, having competed for higher stakes than nearly anyone else in poker. The Reno-native used to play card games around the family dinner table, before becoming hooked on poker while working her way through college. After moving to Los Angeles, she began to grind her way up the cash game ranks, determined to play the biggest game available. She eventually made her way to Las Vegas, and found her place at table one at Bellagio, and later Bobby’s Room among some of the most legendary players of all time.

Harman was one of the most important players for The Corporation, which was a group of poker players who pooled their money together to take on billionaire banker Andy Beal in a series of seven-figure heads-up matches. At one point in the series of games, Harman beat Beal three consecutive sessions, winning $3 million each time, and even took him on at stakes of $100,000-$200,000 when he returned for more action. Harman has two World Series of Poker bracelets, the first coming in the 2000 $5,000 no-limit 2-7 lowball event, and the second coming in the 2002 $5,000 limit hold’em event. The accomplishment made her the first woman to win two open events in WSOP history. In 2015, she was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.

Highlights from this interview include the acoustics of live poker, mom’s bar room pinochle games, burying the printing press in the backyard, not using her degree in biology, the recognizable cadaver of Reno, hand shakes, using her fake ID to play, finding poker in an LA grocery store, setting her eyes on the biggest game in the room, the non-issue of gender, Phil Ivey’s struggles at $400-$800, Doyle Brunson’s nickname for her, Chip Reese’s $300k practical joke, investing in the Corporation while in surgery, proving Amarillo Slim wrong, losing her bracelets twice, the rigorous filming schedule of reality TV, the Poker Hall of Fame, seven-figure pots at $100k-$200k, profiting off of Daniel Negreanu’s tournament success, being cheated in a New York home game, betting the wrong side with David Oppenheim, working as a “songwriter,” and the perks of Air Force One.

The Transcript Highlights

On Why She Chose Poker Over A Career In Medicine

Julio Rodriguez: What was the plan in college?

Jennifer Harman: I wanted to be a doctor. I got a degree in biology, and then… You know, I had an anatomy and physiology class, and they brought the cadavers in, and I just couldn’t handle it.

I remember one cadaver being brought in… he was actually a local from Reno, and half of the class knew him. They were just freaking out, and it bugged me.

JR: Well maybe they do that on purpose, to weed people out, but it seems a little early in the process to scare [potential doctors] like that.

JH: So I just had a hard time dealing with [death], patients dying, and things like that. I just had to scrap it. I couldn’t do it. And also, I wanted to be a surgeon, and I have this tremor in my hand where I always shake. It’s helped me in poker, but my hand just shakes, and I don’t think anybody would want me operating on them. So what I really wanted to do was actually impossible for me to do physically.

But I remember a hand of no-limit deuce. I made a big hand, and this guy bet and I just moved in. My hands were shaking so much that he insta-called me. He thought I was bluffing. There are other players in the game (more familiar with me) that will now just take their hand and put it on my hands to calm them down.

Chip Reese’s $300,000 Practical Joke

JR: In the book [The Professor, The Banker, and The Suicide King], Michael Craig mentions a moment when you flew back to Las Vegas from your vacation in Italy [thinking that Andy Beal had come back to town], but it ended up being a practical joke, and Andy wasn’t actually there. I’m wondering if you ever found out who put you up to that.

JH: I think it was Chip [Reese]. But you know, it really didn’t matter because when I flew back, there was an amazing game, and I think I ended up winning $80,000. That whole week, I think I won over $300,000.

So it worked out well for me, and I didn’t even find out it was a joke until later. I had no idea, because they never told me. But I did so well that week… play as many practical jokes as you want on me.

JR: Well that’s brutal that you had to spend New Years alone, but I guess if you got a quarter of a million in your pocket out of it, then it’s all for the better.

JH: Exactly. It puts things into perspective.

On Investing In The Corporation While In Surgery

JR: During one of [Andy’s trips] to Vegas, you weren’t there because you were in surgery getting a kidney transplant. But while you were under, they called (ex-husband) Marco [Traniello] to make the decision on whether or not to invest. That seems crazy to me that he would have to make that decision while you were indisposed.

JH: Yeah, because Marco really wasn’t a risk taker. He had a really hard time making that decision. Also, one of the requirements when Andy came was that you had to post up your money. It had to be there. Obviously, he couldn’t do that, so another player in The Corporation said they would post it for me.

It was a really hard decision for him, and thank god he made the right [call]. I remember I was in recovery for a while. I had just woken up in a fog, they had just wheeled me back into the room. I don’t even know if my new kidney works. Marco says, ‘Andy’s in Vegas,’ and I said, ‘Are we in?’

JR: What would you have done if you had woken up and found out he decided to pass?

JH: I would have killed him. He would have had to deal with my wrath, and my wrath can be harsh! ♠

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 Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.