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Kasey Lyn Mills Heats Up With Two Circuit Rings And World Poker Tour Final Table

All The Pieces Come Together For An Impressive Run

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A cash game player to start, Kasey Lyn Mills has since caught the tournament bug. The Oklahoma poker pro came out of the pandemic with a renewed focus on multi-table tournaments, and the move has paid off.

Mills started to see results in October of 2022, taking second in the WPT Steps mystery bounty event for $42,968 at Texas Card House. A couple months later, she narrowly missed out on her first WSOP Circuit ring, finishing runner-up at Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma.

Several final tables later, Mills took fifth in the WSOP Circuit main event at Tulsa for $35,539, before finishing her summer in Vegas with a deep run in the WSOP main event. The poker commentator came close again at Choctaw in July of 2023 with back-to-back final tables, and one-upped herself in a big way in January when the tour returned.

First, Mills took down the $1,000 Monster Stack event, banking $66,009 and her first piece of WSOP gold. The next event she entered was the $400 no-limit event, where she once again found the winner’s circle and another $22,433.

Then in April, she embarked on the inaugural World Poker Tour Voyage Championship, ultimately taking seventh place for $42,000.

Card Player recently caught up with the Poker Now ambassador to talk about her recent success and how she was able to find a balanced approached to tournament play.

Craig Tapscott: When did poker first come into your life?

Kasey Lyn Mills: My grandmother introduced me to the game as a little girl. She was a fierce competitor in anything and everything she ever did. She had such an amazing spirit.

Two Circuit TitlesI grew up in Oklahoma, where you could play at 18. This was around the Moneymaker boom. I would see some top pros playing at Choctaw [Casino], such as Clonie Gowen, Todd Brunson, Scotty Nguyen, Mike Matusow, and TJ Cloutier. They would be there for some of the bigger tournaments.

I played Clonie once during a heads-up promo event, and I won. It was a magical moment for me. I caught the poker bug around that time. I convinced myself I was so good, but I was actually pretty terrible. (laughs)

CT: What did you do to improve your game?

KLM: I read all the books; I’m a reader. I was just watching all the content, such as High Stakes Poker, and I loved it. I had various jobs at the time to make a living. But about 12 years ago, I started to take it much more seriously. I had some unique talents that gave me an edge early regarding live reads. Then I began to study ranges, etc. Back then it was more for cash games. I avoided tournaments like the plague.

I would visit online training sites and check the forums. I started to improve and play more and more high stakes, and eventually, I put together a good bankroll and turned pro. Then I moved out to California.

CT: Clearly, you were very serious about making it as a professional.

KLM: I was. The games were great out there, and I started playing on a live stream called Stones Live. Eventually I did some commentary as well. That was fun.

CT: When did you start playing tournaments, and what was your approach there?

KLM: I had always thought that the MTT pros were crazy masochists who just love pain. I’d just play a few, you know because I love cash. It’s so much more stable and not as high variance as MTTs. Players can make a real living at cash games as compared to tournaments.

That’s what I mostly thought at the time. But after going through Raise Your Edge courses and playing online more, the pandemic shut everything down. So, I focused on tournaments.

Obviously, I wanted to win, so I put in a ton of volume online. I was using Poker Tracker to see where I was making mistakes and where my leaks were, constantly running through those hands. I put in massive volume. And then [the poker world] opened back up.

I was able to combine everything I had learned from online MTTs with what my strongest edge had always been and what I call my superpower, which is being able to read people. I studied and watched for micro-expressions, body language, etc. I was able to combine that with player types and newfound skills. I had much stronger fundamentals and was better at hand reading analysis, hand ranges, and reading board textures. By combining all my skills, it just happened, and I started to just crush.

Poker became more fun. I actually started to feel like tournaments might even fit my skill set even better than cash.

CT: What were your biggest mistakes transitioning from cash games to MTTs?

KLM: Coming from cash games, I was very aggressive. I was already great at building up a stack, but wasn’t great at stack preservation late in the ICM stages. I needed to recognize how my range required to tighten up and how to play appropriately late in an MTT. It’s just a different style and [mindset] shift that I learned to transition to. I was beginning to trust and believe in myself.

CT: You came close to some bigger wins in 2023. Then, you seemed to hit your stride at the beginning of this year.

KLM: I kept getting closer and closer to a significant cash. I kept laddering and putting myself in an excellent position to win during the late stages of events.

It was all a mental shift. Back in 2023, I was scared to win. I had some self-confidence issues and didn’t believe in myself. I felt like I should have won a couple of times, and I got second. At least one time, I self-sabotaged with false beliefs about myself, wealth, and money.

CT: How did you overcome that mental hurdle?

KLM: I started to put in a lot of work with mindset practices. I did affirmations every single day. I focused on my confidence and my thoughts about abundance and wealth in my life. It started to rewire the negative tapes in my head. I did other mindful practices, such as meditation, and I also started doing cold plunges. (A practice that has become popular with some in the high roller community.)

CT: That sounds intense.

KLM: I was determined to overcome these negative beliefs within me. I started making choices that affirmed that I was a winner. And it was then that things began to change. Those shifts in mental focus changed everything for me.

I started to see players I knew hadn’t studied all of the solver work as I had, yet they were crushing. They were not just solver bots. I watched different styles of players and how they navigated the MTTs, and they were winning. Then, all the pieces seemed to come together for me.

I began to understand that I didn’t have to know everything right now to be good enough to win. I started following my guts, instincts, and belief reading abilities – all of the knowledge I’ve attained over these years. I’m good enough now. I think when I finally started to believe that, things changed. It was a big shift for me.

CT: Tell me more about the big week where you won two WSOP Circuit rings within a few days at Choctaw.

KLM: At the core of it all, I’m a grinder. I felt these events were soft and had a lot of value. I resisted the prelims and went home to reset first. I did all my mindset work, meditations, affirmations, cold plunges, and stuff, and then I came back the following week.

I blocked everything out. I went solo. I didn’t go with any friends. I stayed by myself. I had played with these players at Choctaw for the last year or two. I felt like I had a really good read on the field.

A lot of these players are super recreational, and I felt like I was able to shift into exploitative strategies at the tables. I was using a lot of exploitative play, sometimes almost having to forget GTO in order to mass exploit the field. I stayed focused and locked in and came in prepared to win.

CT: You won your first event and then a day or so later won a second.

KLM: Well, after I won the first ring, I felt so aligned, balanced, and confident. I put that first win behind me. I went into that next event saying I had not proved anything to myself yet about my game, anyone else, or the world.

So, we’re starting over from today. I have done nothing. And I have to play this next event one hand at a time, one street at a time. I was able to reset and went for it.
I made a massive mistake in the final stages and had to reset. On each break, I was doing my mindset and meditation work.

CT: Do you have an issue focusing at times, like most of us?

KLM: I’m ADHD or ADD, I would say. I don’t have hyperactivity, but it’s been a big struggle in my life. But in poker, it’s been like my superpower because it allows me to focus on 100 different things at once. That happened as I struggled and overcame my mistakes and got it done.

CT: It’s great seeing more women succeed on the circuit. What do you think needs to be done to encourage more women to play?

KLM: That’s a tricky question to answer. Women are so different, and are all looking for different takeaways from the game.

I don’t love playing ladies events, but I’m happy we have them. They introduced so many women to the game, and it’s a place where they feel comfortable, especially in these lower buy-in ladies events. Then women can go and laugh, have some camaraderie, drink champagne together, and learn the game.

CT: Why don’t you love the ladies events so much for yourself?

KLM: I am a fierce competitor and have always wanted to be the best, and not just the best ‘woman’ in poker.

Poker is a mind sport. Our brains are different than men’s. We are designed differently. Women have so many special skills that are so amazing for poker. If you combine that with some study, I think women will excel in poker. I hope to see a lot more women get into the game.

I must tell you, so many men play terribly against me. It’s just the truth. They get terrified of me in a way that they’re not scared of each other. I don’t know precisely what that is, but I love it. I love terrifying men at the tables. (laughs) It’s probably one of my favorite things when a good male player tells me how scary they find me to play against. ♠

Find Kasey Lyn Mills on Twitter/X and Instagram @PokerMommaa

*Photos courtesy of WSOP, World Poker Tour, and Kasey Lyn Mills