It may make me sound like a sexist to say this, but Jennifer Harman is one of the cutest female players on the world poker circuit.
She has blond hair, a pixie smile, and she reminds me of Goldie Hawn.
Born in Reno, NV., Jennifer is one of the top women poker players in the world. She has won two bracelets in World Series of Poker competition and has finished in the money at 12 final tables. Her bracelets came from her play in a $5,000 limit Holdem event and in a no limit two to seven lowball tournament.
Her life has not been without setbacks. Since childhood...
...she has suffered from kidney problems and was forced to undergo two kidney transplant operations. Now 54, she is divorced and lives in Las Vegas with her two twin sons.
Doyle Brunson thinks highly of her poker play. He asked her to contribute the section on limit Texas Holdem to his revised book, 'Super System Two,' another best seller in his list of published poker strategy books.
Doyle says, "I'm convinced she's not only the best all-around female player alive, but also ranks among the elite poker players of the world."
She has appeared in the final table at the WSOP in seven-card stud, pot limit hold'em, and twice in limit hold'em events.
While I have never had the pleasure of meeting Harman, I do remember playing in a couple of past tournaments where she competed.
Her advice to players is to play limit poker in a straightforward manner, and no limit in a way to take all the chips of your opponents.
She also suggests:
Players, especially females, to play in a way that is not predictable. In other words, girls, use your feminine wiles and that includes bluffing!
"When people who are new to poker ask me for pointers, I usually tell them to play fewer hands," she says.
"If you are a beginner, stick to strict guidelines with your pre-flop hand selection. This will teach you the importance of patience and discipline, and your daily swings won't be nearly as large."
The position is also important to Jennifer, who says she won't play from early position unless she has a premium hand. When she is behind the button in an unraised pot, though, it's a far different story.
She always raises with a premium hand in early position, saying it actually gives away less information about the strength of her hand. Those premium hands include A-K both suited and nonsuited, A-A, K-K, or Q-Q.
Such raises build the pot and when you hold premium hands, she says, you need to get as much money into the pot as possible!
As you become more comfortable with the game, you can sometimes limp in with a top hand just to deceive your foes. This pre-flop deception can pay off on future hands. Her only exception to this is when she holds kings. As Jennifer puts it:
"If someone is going to beat me with an ace rag hand, I want to make sure I make him pay for it before the flop."
Her favorite drawing hand is A-K suited. She mixes up the way she plays the hand...
...and says she will sometimes just call a raise with the hand in a loose game with plenty of action. With just a smooth call, you might lure others with lesser hands to come into the pot.
Jennifer is an aggressive player. When she is the first to enter a pot, you can pretty much count on a raise, since aggression pays off in poker.
If someone has raised in front of her and she has a raising hand, she will usually re-raise to narrow the field. Re-raising will also give you a better picture of the raiser's hand.
A-Q is a hand that can cause problems, she said. If a rock-solid conservative player raises and she is holding A-Q, she will often dump it. But if the raiser is a loose aggressive player, she will sometimes re-raise in order to isolate the player.
In late position, she will often raise with J-10 if nobody else has entered the pot. That will help you pick up blinds in uncontested pots.
She says there are few absolutes in poker and all of her rules are subject to changing gears. In a passive game, she opens up with her marginal hands. It makes the game more exciting and helps her win fringe pots. She will raise with all of her big card and small pair hands like K-J, Q-J, 10-9 suited or pairs of sixes or fives.
If the game is liberal with plenty of callers and few raisers, she plays marginal hands, but not aggressively. In this kind of situation, she wants to get full value on her hand. A raise will only kick out players with poor hands and may run into a player with a premium hand.
Jennifer Harman is a class act who is highly respected in Las Vegas. Our prayers are for her health to improve and for this cute blond to keep winning!
Author: Geno Lawrenzi Jr.
(Geno Lawrenzi Jr. is an international journalist, magazine author and ghostwriter and poker player who lives in Phoenx, AZ. He has published 2,000 articles in 50 magazines and 125 newspapers. If you want to share a gambling story or book idea with him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org ).