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Kathy Come Home.

The poker world may be still dominated by men, but the women who rise to the top are often among the very best, and Kathy Liebert is certainly in that bracket as one of the best overall tournament players. This was emphasised most recently with her nationally televised victory in Poker Royale: Battle of the Sexes, where she showed that indeed women can be the superior sex in poker by beating eleven other men and women in a show that aired on GSN – Liebert claimed a $100,000 first prize and lots of international recognition.

But this is nothing compared to her moment of crowning glory in 2002, when Kathy won the PartyPoker Million WPT and the accompanying $1,000,000 first prize. Liebert became the first woman ever to win a poker tournament with a buy-in of $5,000 or more, and the first woman to win $1 million in tournament poker. Over the years she has placed in (and won) countless events, and she is ranked third for women on the all time money list at the World Series of Poker.

This recognition comes at a time where poker is booming, and Liebert is ecstatic to be part of it; although it wasn’t always that way: “At first, I really didn't like the idea of playing poker on TV. I hated the idea that people could see how I play, especially if I lost or didn’t get called, I never envisioned people coming up to me saying ‘I saw you on TV’, or ‘can I have your autograph’. While I would still prefer playing without showing my hole cards to the world, being on TV has its advantages – it’s kind of cool being treated like a celebrity, and I get enough attention for it to be a treat without getting so much that it is an invasion.”

That’s not all, as the money available has skyrocketed: “TV is bringing in a lot more players to the games and to the tournaments, which is great. It used to be there were very few tournaments where you could win a million dollars or more, now there are dozens of tournaments where you can win over a million. I finished 3rd in a $10,000 buy-in WPT event and it paid over $400,000. There used to be one or two tournaments a year you could win that much money in, now there are one or two a month.”

Similarly, poker’s growth helped increase the number of women in poker: “The growth of poker on TV has certainly brought more women in to the game. I am one of very few women who regularly travels the circuit playing most of the WPT and WSOP events. However the few women who do play are getting a lot more attention on TV. We will see many more successful women over the next couple years. Some you have heard of already, but I predict many women you have not yet heard of will also become well known in the next couple years.”

So that’s the future taken care of, but what about the past, and how Liebert came to the poker world? Born in Tennessee, but raised on Long Island in New York, Liebert attended Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, graduating with a degree in business and finance. After graduation, she worked as a Business Analyst for Dun and Bradstreet but, becoming dissatisfied with the job, she took the advice of her mother who encouraged her to do something she loved – telling her that the money would follow.

During her time at D&B, she had played the stock market, doing well enough to quit her job and follow her mother’s advice. But undecided about what precisely to do, Liebert decided to head to the West Coast, making a short stop in Las Vegas where she played casino poker for the first time, having learned the game when her parents invited friends to their home for occasional nickel-dime poker nights.

Eventually, she ended up in Colorado, attracted by the prospect of skiing the Rockies. Central City and Blackhawk, two mountain towns, had just legalized gambling, and Liebert went up to play $5-limit poker. She learned the rudiments of the game playing weekly, and was soon invited to become a “paid” player by the casinos to keep the action going on the poker tables. She improved her game reading books by top pros.

Then a friend encouraged Liebert to try her hand at tournament poker, so she headed for Las Vegas. She surprised even herself, finishing second in her first tournament, Omaha Hi-lo. A week later she entered her first Texas Hold’em tournament—and took home another second. After one week of tournament poker she had won $34,000. Other victories followed further building her bankroll until she was able to buy houses in Las Vegas and California, and to invest in the stock market, which gives her a safety net from the swings of tournament poker. She also gives poker lessons (including serving as poker coach to actor James Woods), and has a lucrative sponsorship deal with interpoker.com.

But it’s a rare soul that can make it in professional poker, and her former career has served her well: “I play poker as a business. I try to balance risk vs. reward and take high risks for high rewards and low risks for low rewards, just as in the stock market. I view myself as a businesswoman who will take risks for an expected return or reward for that risk –just how any good business person must make decisions, so must a poker player.”

This is reflected in her choice of poker tournaments over cash games: “I used to play both cash games and tournaments, but now I focus more on tournaments, because the risk vs. reward ratio is better in the tournaments. I can put up $10,000 and can win hundreds of thousands or even a million or more in just a few days, where I would have to risk a lot more money to have that same potential return in the cash games.”

However, there is still some way to go in the tournament world, which Liebert hopes to develop into a recognised sport: “Being a TV star is fun and the money is great. But we are not getting paid to be on TV - in fact we are paying to play. It would be nice if we got paid like actors or sports figures instead of just by the prize pools where we put up all the money. Hopefully, more sponsors will come in and there will be added money in the televised events, and players will be paid by sponsors to endorse them just like NASCAR and many other sports.”

In the current climate, this situation looks likely to come about sooner rather than later and its undoubtedly the case that, alongside Annie Duke and Jennifer Harman, Liebert is one of the front most recognised female poker faces. How will she continue to set herself apart? “Ultimately I would like to win many No Limit $10,000 buy-in events. In the last two years, I have had a very high percentage of cashes in the big buy-in events. Over the next several years, my ambition is to win several WSOP and WPT titles.” And, judging by her prolific career so far, this may certainly be on the cards.

Kathy’s Top Tournaments Tips.

1. Watch how your opponents play.
2. Play selectively aggressive.
3. Play the players not just the cards.
4. Think before you act.
5. Plan to win.
6. Do not be afraid to take a calculated risk.
7. Vary your game.
8. Watch your own play to avoid falling into patterns.
9. Use your opponent’s weaknesses against them.
10. Play to win.


14-Jan-06

$10,000 Main Event - No Limit Hold'em
Crown Australian Poker Championships 2006, Melbourne

13th

$50,160

$36,762

30-Nov-05

$6,000 Championship Event - No Limit Hold'em
Caribbean Poker Classic, St. Kitts

18th

 

$21,750

28-Nov-05

$500 No Limit Hold'em
Caribbean Poker Classic, St. Kitts

1st

 

$23,600

13-Nov-05

$10,000 WPT - No Limit Hold'em
2005 World Poker Finals, Mashantucket

108th

 

$11,000

23-Oct-05

Quarter Final 1
Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament Season 2, Cabazon

4th

 

$15,000

18-Oct-05

$10,000 2nd Annual Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship
Bellagio Festa Al Lago IV, Las Vegas

13th

 

$34,485

04-Oct-05

$9,700 Main Event - No Limit Hold'em
2005 United States Poker Championship, Atlantic City

13th

 

$28,372

19-Sep-05

$9,700 Championship Event - No Limit Hold'em
2005 Borgata Poker Open - WPT, Atlantic City

3rd

 

$427,115

18-Sep-05

Final 16 - Group B - Match 2
Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament Season 2, Cabazon

1st

 

$15,000

22-Aug-05

$10,000 Championship Event - No Limit Hold'em
2005 WSOP Tournament Circuit - Grand Casino Tunica, Robinsonville

12th

 

$24,310

20-Jul-05

$3,000 No Limit Hold'em
Ultimate Poker Challenge, Las Vegas

2nd

 

$20,955

16-Jun-05

$1,500 Limit Hold'em Shootout
36th World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2005, Las Vegas

7th

 

$24,840

12-Jun-05

Heat 14
Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament Season 2, Cabazon

1st

 

$10,000

17-Apr-05

$2,500 Super Satellite to Main Event - No Limit Hold'em
Third Annual Five-Star World Poker Classic, Las Vegas

13th

 

$25,700

10-Apr-05

Heat 5
Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament Season 2, Cabazon

1st

 

$10,000

19-Mar-05

$10,000 WPT Event - Limit Hold'em
PartyPoker.com Million IV, Cruise

98th

 

$10,426

13-Mar-05

Heat 1
Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament Season 2, Cabazon

1st

 

$10,000

06-Nov-04

$2,000 Limit Hold'em
2004 World Poker Finals, Mashantucket

4th

 

$21,725

19-Oct-04

$10,000 The Doyle Brunson North American No Limit Hold'em Poker Championship
2004 Festa al Lago III Poker Tournament, Las Vegas

8th

 

$48,000

08-Oct-04

$4,900 WPPA Championship of Poker No Limit Hold'em Championship - Final Day
WPPA Championship of Poker, Las Vegas

6th

 

$17,285

10-Sep-04

$1,000 No Limit Hold'em
2004 Plaza Ultimate Poker Challenge, Las Vegas

1st

 

$11,500

07-Jun-04

$1,000 Pot Limit Hold'em
California State Poker Championship 2004, Los Angeles

3rd

 

$15,840

07-May-04

$1,500 Limit Hold'em Shootout
35th World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2004, Las Vegas

1st

 

$110,180

01-Nov-03

$500 No Limit Hold'em
2003 World Poker Finals, Mashantucket

3rd

 

$23,355

03-Oct-03

$5,000 No Limit Hold'em - Main Event
2003 Four Queens Poker Classic, Las Vegas

4th

 

$32,930

26-Jul-03

$500 Limit Hold'em Main Event
2003 Orleans Open, Las Vegas

3rd

 

$13,240

01-May-03

$1,500 Limit Hold'em
34th World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2003, Las Vegas

2nd

 

$91,700

19-Apr-03

$2,000 No Limit Hold'em
34th World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2003, Las Vegas

9th

 

$12,160

15-Mar-03

$100 No Limit Hold'em
2003 Winnin' o' the Green, Los Angeles

1st

 

$18,070

21-Feb-03

$10,000 No Limit Hold'em Championship - WPT
2003 L.A. Poker Classic, Los Angeles

17th

 

$16,015

14-Nov-02

$10,000 No Limit Hold'em - Main Event - WPT
2002 World Poker Finals, Mashantucket

7th

 

$35,600

30-Aug-02

$5,000 No Limit Hold'em Championship - WPT
2002 Legends of Poker, Los Angeles

6th

 

$22,575

22-Aug-02

$1,000 7-Card Stud
2002 Legends of Poker, Los Angeles

2nd

 

$11,000

17-Aug-02

$1,000 No Limit Hold'em
2002 Legends of Poker, Los Angeles

3rd

 

$13,440

16-May-02

$3,000 No Limit Hold'em
33rd World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2002, Las Vegas

6th

 

$34,740

17-Mar-02

$8,000 Limit Hold'em - Final Results
Party Poker Million, Cruise

1st

 

$1,000,000

07-Nov-01

$1,000 No Limit Hold'em
2001 World Poker Finals, Mashantucket

3rd

 

$13,320

15-May-00

$10,000 World Championship No Limit Texas Hold'em
31st World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2000, Las Vegas

17th

 

$39,120

20-Feb-00

$1,000 No Limit Hold'em
2000 L.A. Poker Classic, Los Angeles

1st

 

$36,400

23-Aug-99

$500 7 Card Stud
1999 Legends of Poker, Los Angeles

2nd

 

$10,400

17-Aug-99

$500 Half 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo & Half Omaha Hi-Lo
1999 Legends of Poker, Los Angeles

2nd

 

$10,900

11-May-98

$10,000 No Limit Hold'em World Championship
29th World Series of Poker (WSOP) 1998, Las Vegas

17th

 

$30,000

08-May-97

$3,000 No Limit Hold'em
28th World Series of Poker (WSOP) 1997, Las Vegas

2nd

 

$123,690

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