Jennifer Harman: “Negreanu is like a brother to me”.
Jennifer Harman is over 50 now. You certainly remember her. She was an often guest in the company of regulars for the first four seasons of High Stakes Poker. She still play at the very high level at Bobby’s Room. She has WSOP bracelets and WPT final tables. She is one of the most famous cash players in the world. So what has changed in her world and what she has been up to lately? The information is below.
You are from Nevada, been living in Vegas for many years. Poker has always been the part of your life. How does your average day look like?
Nothing special. I have two kids, divorced. I spend every other week with them in turns with my husband. It goes on and on. So I have to take them to football studies, help with the homework, set up their meetings with friends and stuff like that. So I’m no different to other single moms and spend the rest of my time playing poker.
You usually play at Bobby’s Room. What are your stakes and who are your opponents?
I play a lot during WSOP as game selection is much better during that time. I try not to play when I don’t see a fish at the table. I’d rather play at lower stakes– like 200/400, 300/600 or 500/1K, sometimes 1K/2K and 1,5K/3K. It makes more sense in terms of profit. Regulars are Doyle Brunson, Nick Schulman, Brian Rast etc. Sometimes there are Elior Sion or David Oppenheim and others. They aren’t too famous but they are the best players in the world.
You’ve been playing at high stakes for quite some time, and that is the rollercoaster ride. You’ve started early and now you are a single mom. How do you manage to combine all these and where do you get inspiration from?
I don’t have any strength left in me! Really. I’m trying to combine all this for 10 years and made zero progress. I’ve given up long time ago. Just going with the flow. I take kids to school in the morning, this is really hard for me as I prefer being awake at night time. I’ve never had a certain schedule. This is not for me…
When the kids are at my husband’s I play a lot at night. When they’re with m, I need to get up early. So I have to switch from one mode to another. In result, I’ve decided not too worry too much about it and let it be. Should there be a good table – I’ll play. If not – let it be.
It’s always easier for me in summer: kids go to Italy. This is the hottest time in course of year for me.
You are a role model for many people. You had serious health issues and you’ve successfully got through two surgeries on kidney transplant. Did it have any impact on your career or the way you going to keep on living?
I’ve got health issues when I was a little girl. My mom died from kidney failure and I ad similar problems in my youth. After the first transplant I’ve decided that living the today is the most important thing for me. I usually don’t build any plans as this is hard for me. I just try to live my full life and don’t think about the rest. I perfectly realize how valuable life is.
I probably don’t raise my kids right. I let them make their own choices, not building any limits for them. I want them to realize everything on their own and become stronger after that realization. I have my own views on politics and want for my kids to form their own opinion. I don’t want their thinking to be standard. I don’t know if it is correct or not, but life’s too short to prohibit everything. If they ask my permission for doing anything not so criminal, I often say: “Sure, no problem”.
What is the thing you’re most proud of?
I thing this has to be my kids. They are my life. Speaking of poker, I am proud to achieve everything I did. I like to compete with others and when I was at the beginning I’ve always wanted to be the best. There weren’t too many chances for that but my stubbornness and commitments allowed to reach the highs. I play with the best of the best. And I want to be the best mom in the world – just for my kids.
I’ve read a lot that you are an example of cold mind at the poker table. You deal with emotions in ease and that is one of the most important qualities for professional players. For instance, you’ve played against Andy Beal just several days after your kidney transplant surgery.
Poker is always about emotions and the pressure. Sometimes you deal with it, sometimes you don’t. I’ve always admired the skill of some players to remain calm in any situation but I’m pretty sure it is not like that inside of their minds. I can’t I’ never nervous. I just don’t let emotion to get control of me.
Several years ago at night during WSOP I’ve drank too much alcohol. Johnny Chen that told me to keep playing. I was objecting but he responded like this: “You’re drunk but your chips aren’t!” This is how I deal with my emotions. Sometimes they take over me but not my chips. I don’t let my feelings play instead of me as I am a very emotional person. Everyone has problems and obstacles they have to deal with. This is what I’ve learnt not so long ago.
Have you ever considered quitting poker?
I’ve always loved and continue to love poker. I like to learn new things, study the game, compete. I will be playing forever. There are other thought of course. For instance about running my own business. But I have to find something I’ll be loving. I am looking for something else all the time but poker is forever going to be the part of my life. This is a unique game. My brain is constantly in suspense and I like it.
When you were at the beginning of your career, poker wasn’t as popular as it is now. Yu were the only women at high stakes world. Was it harder then to make it to the top in comparison with nowadays environment?
I started to play when I was 16. I used to sneak to the casinos but they were always welcoming. No one ever offended or lay a hand on me. Later I moved to Los Angeles and I felt I was at home at the very first table I sat to. Since then I live in the world of poker and feel great.
I’ve never had to play more aggressively because I’m a female. I just played my poker and should someone wanted to feel more like a man with my help – I didn’t care. I was sitting there to earn money, not to care about other people’s opinion.
Who are the best representatives of the poker community to you?
I’ve got lots of good friends. They’ve become a part of my life. Daniel Negreanu is like a brother to me. Phil Ivey, I love him very much. Matt Glantz, Nick Schulman… we are a big family.
When I was interviewing John Monnette three years ago, he told me that cash games world in Vegas, especially at high stakes is a very private zone, He didn’t know what was going on in tournaments and who rules there now. Do you understand what he has been talking about?
Cash games are close to a private community, that is true. Everyone knows each other. However, tournament players also have their groups. There are separate group of players – high rollers, middle takes regulars etc. I don’t follow tournaments. Bobby’s Room is like a cave for us. When there is a new face at the table, I most certainly don’t know him and try to get to know this person as soon as possible.
What are your plans for the nearest future?
I’d like to shoot a documentary – not about poker, about something else. I’ve always wanted to discover something new from the world of cosmetics and beauty overall. I also might consider running my own blog, like Daniel Negreanu does. I’ll be telling about how it is to be a mom in poker and how to find time to raise kids.
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