Jennifer is unquestionably one of the world's best high stakes female player, and one of the top high stakes players in general. She currently wears two WSOP Bracelets and is the only female player at the inauguaral Professional Poker Tour Final table.
In addition, Jennifer is the only female player who regularly participates in "The Big Game" at the Bellagio in Las Vegas- regularly battling it out against the best of the best, including Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Howard Lederer, Chau Giang, Barry Greenstein, Ted Forrest, Gus Hansen, Lee Salem, John Hennigan, Lyle Berman, Phil Ivey and Johnny Chan. Players who let Jennifer's attractive appearance affect their play with her soon learn that she is a fierce and worthy competitor. Jennifer was recently featured on the WPT "Ladies Night," the WPT Final Table of the Ultimate Poker Classic.
At 5 feet 2 inches tall and barely 100 pounds, Jennifer isn’t exactly the most intimidating poker player you’ll ever come across, but she is one of the best poker players in the world and makes up to a million dollars on a good year. Harman says she's a perfectionist when it comes to poker and the hard part for her is realizing that it's a game that you can never play perfectly. She first fell in love with the game of poker at the age of 8 when her dad and his friends used to play at their house, and she always watched. Sometimes when he was losing two or three hundred, he’d put her in the game to get him even - and she usually did. Since then she has climbed all the way to the top of what traditionally has been a man's world. She says: "It probably helps me to be a woman. In general, most men don't think women can play. So, what often happens is that they try to run over me. They bluff their money off to me. I guess they see me as a meek little girl and think that I'm easily bluffed. I'm not!" When asked if it is difficult being successful in a man's world, she says: "Kind of. I wouldn't say it's difficult, really, but earning respect as a player and being a woman at the same time probably is. That's not really important to me, though. What's important to me is to be respected by my husband and my close friends. I couldn't care less if my opponents don’t respect my play. In fact, that could only help me in the long run."
The road to becoming a professional poker player is never an easy one and she had obstacles to overcome just like many players before her. In 1993, it appeared that Jennifer would possibly quit playing professionally, but she persevered and the whole experience made her that much stronger. "I had one losing year in poker back in 1993. It was a tough time for me. My life was going through some changes, and I guess they affected my focus at the poker table. I didn’t go totally broke, but close enough. I was playing $50-$100 hold’em at the Mirage at the time, so just to be safe, I borrowed $50,000 from a friend so that I had an adequate bankroll to continue playing in that game. I started to do much better after that, and paid the loan off pretty quickly. Since then, I haven’t had to worry much about my bankroll. I’ve always tried to stick to limits I can afford. "
She didn’t officially start playing poker for a living until she was about 21. Before that, she worked odd jobs, mostly as a cocktail waitress. She loved poker so she decided to try to started playing for a living. Back then, she played mostly $10-$20, and a little later moved up to $20-$40 and $30-$60. She spent about seven years playing $20-$40, and no higher than $50-$100, then about another eight years playing from $75-$150 to $200-$400. She would build her bankroll and take shots at the bigger games and eventually move up to $3,000-$6,000 games. When she would lose, she would go back down in limits. It was a cycle that lasted a long time, but was worth it in the end. Even though poker has been her only source of income since she was 21, she has been investing her money the whole time and this has helped her bankroll.
When she isn't playing poker she likes to stay home and playing with her dogs as well as going to movies and hang out with friends. She is married and her husband also plays poker sometimes, which has made it easier on her, she says: "I think the fact that he plays sometimes now makes things easier on me. Sometimes when I have a big loss, I come home in a bad mood and can be really cranky. I think now that Marco plays poker sometimes, too, he knows how I feel and lets me vent my frustration without taking anything personal. Poker can be very frustrating, and I wear my emotions on my sleeves, but Marco has been extremely supportive of my career."
Like many poker players who make a lot of money but keep a lower profile, she is a cash game specialist and she can regularly be found playing in the biggest live-action game in the world at Bellagio in Las Vegas where she plays up to $3,000-$6,000. In this game, she holds her own: "In a cash game, you always just make your decision based on the way the hand was played and your read of your opponents. In tournaments, there is so much other stuff to think about, like conserving chips, avoiding marginal situations, playing aggressively against short stacks, and so on. They are just so different."
But she has decided to also try to improve her tournament play: "Well, basically, I just want to be the best player I can be, and continue to improve. Other than that, I've decided to play a few more events at the World Series this year, rather than the cash games I normally play. I've also been working hard on my no-limit play, because I'd like to win the "big one" one day. Tournaments are completely different, but I think I'm getting the hang of them". Although she doesn’t play many tournaments, she has had some success over the years at the WSOP. She won the prestigious deuce-to-seven no-limit draw title at the WSOP in 2000, overcoming a huge chip deficit heads up against favorite Lyle Berman. The most incredible part of this story though was that she won that title having never played the game before. She has also made it a goal to learn how to play other poker games, rather than specializing in one game, because at her level if you only know how to play one game well then you will get crushed as well as becoming a better player overall: "I still learn something new every day. I enjoy the challenge of playing with the best. It’s a constant learning experience. I make mistakes, but as long as I learn something from those mistakes, they can actually be good for me. Of course, when I do make a mistake in a hand, though, my immediate reaction is to go nuts! I’m pretty tough on myself when it comes to things like that. I guess I’m a perfectionist when it comes to poker. The hard part is realizing that it’s a game that you can never play perfectly. "
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