PokerMoments Interview with Jennifer Harman

Jennifer Harman is often referred to as the best female poker player in the world (watch her play on High Stakes Poker). So you can imagine how excited I was when she agreed to answer some questions for PokerMoments.  First, some background, which is taken from Jennifer’s website:

Born and raised in Reno, NV, Jennifer Harman got her start in poker at the tender age of eight, when she’d help her father out in his poker games.  When she turned 21, Jennifer started playing full time. She specializes in Limit Hold ’em, and now plays in the biggest cash game in the world, the $4,000/$8,000 mixed game at the Bellagio.

Though she spends most of her time in cash games, Jennifer has had excellent tournament results. She has won two World Series of Poker bracelets, one in Limit Hold ’em, the other in Deuce-to-Seven Draw.  Other recent tournament successes include a second place finish at the WSOP Circuit event at the Rio, Las Vegas, and a fourth place finish at the WPT Five Diamond Classic at the Bellagio.

She lives in Las Vegas with her husband, fellow poker professional Marco Traniello. The recipient of a kidney transplant, Jennifer is now an advocate for the cause, speaking on the importance of becoming an organ donor and founding CODA, “Creating Organ Donation Awareness”.

Now to the interview…

Suber: I think that you prefer limit over no-limit. True? What do you like better about that?

Jennifer: I do like limit better than No limit. I just feel I’m better at limit and can make more money from it. There are also so many other games that are limit and I really like to play mixed games.

Suber: I assume you’ve played in the WSOP main event. What was that experience like? How did you do?

Jennifer: The Main Event in the WSOP is very exciting. It’s not like any other tournament. It’s hard to explain, but there is a certain energy about playing in that tournament. I’m really never nervous to play in any kind of poker game, but I feel the butterflies in my stomach when I walk into play the main event at the WSOP. I would recommend it to everyone to play.

Suber: Who do you think the really good poker players are?

Jennifer: I’m sure there are a lot of good players out there, but I can only comment on the ones that I have played with. In my opinion: Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, David Benyamine, Barry Greenstien, and Ted Forrest.

Suber: Do you play online poker? If so, what stakes? And in what poker rooms?

Jennifer: I play a little at Full Tilt Poker but usually don’t play very high.

Suber: If you’re in a cash game or playing online, how long will you normally play? Do you set goals for how much you want to win? Or do you play until you get bored or lose a certain amount? How much can you feel comfortable losing?

Jennifer: I usually play around 6 to 7 hours. After that my game isn’t as sharp. I don’t set goals for myself everyday on how much to win. My goal when I sit down is to play the best I can. If I’m losing around 35 big bets, I try to quit. I don’t really like to take big losses, and when you are losing, you usually aren’t playing your best, so I like to get up. If I’m winning, I like to keep playing because my table image is pretty good and other players are not playing as well against you.

Suber: Do you think playing against women is different than playing against men? If so, who do you prefer to play against?

Jennifer: I do think it’s different playing against women than men. I think women are more instinctual and can pick up certain tells on you. I prefer playing against men because I simply have more experience with men at the table.

Suber: Any advice on how to become a professional poker player?

Jennifer: I would suggest to just put in a lot of hours at the table. I would keep very good records. If you are up a considerable amount after 2000 hours, you probably can make it as a professional.

Suber: How do you give other players the impression that you have a hand stronger than you actually have?

Jennifer: I try not to give any information in a hand. If you don’t give away anything when you have a strong hand or a weak hand then your opponent will have a hard time figuring you out.

Suber: Are you good at reading people’s tells? Any stories you’d like to share about tells you’ve figured out?

Jennifer: I’m not sure if I’m good at reading tells, but one of my strengths is being able to put players on certain types of hands. Every poker hand has a story. If you can figure out the end of the story before the hand is actually turned over then you probably will do pretty good. Watching your opponents and their betting patterns will help a lot to fill in the blanks.

Suber: Do you recommend any poker books, either strategy or stories?

Jennifer: I recommend Super System and Super System 2, Dan Harrington’s books, David Sklansky’s books and Barry Greenstien’s book.

Suber: What do you think “luck” in poker means?

Jennifer: I think there is a short term luck factor, but after so many hours that luck is almost non existent.

(Thanks for a great interview, Jennifer! – Suber)

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