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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

CarmenSinCity Introduces The O’Donnells

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A few months ago I was walking through the Amazon Room at the Rio hoping to find my next great story when I saw a beautiful brunette watching the 5K LH Final Table. It was obvious that she knew a player because she had the chair pulled up and she was staring intently as her friend raked in a huge pot. When the players went on break I introduced myself and was pleased to meet Jennifer O'Donnell . Little did I know that she was a fellow female poker player and the daughter of Kevin O'Donnell!

Fast forward a few months and I'm sitting at work when the sales manager comes in and sees a picture of Kevin O'Donnell on my computer screen, "I know him!!" she exclaims and I'm shocked. She lives in Arizona, I'm pretty sure she doesn't know the first thing about poker, and we aren't anywhere near a casino. What a small world - looks like I've found my next great story!

Kevin was born in San Francisco, CA and he's been living in Arizona for the past 16 years. Like a lot of successful players, he's been involved with the game for most of his life, but he didn't start off playing Texas Hold Em. A friend of his ran a game in California and he started playing there when he was much younger. Kevin explains "At first, we played lowball, because in the State of California at the time lowball was legal and Hold Em wasn't. They said that lowball was a game of skill and holdem was not. However, it wasn't too long before I found my love of Texas Hold Em."

Playing poker was a lifestyle for Kevin and he never thought he'd give it up, he even ran his own game. But when Jennifer came along, he found himself a single parent raising a beautiful, baby girl and something had to give. "The game I ran was basically a bunch of guys who got together on Friday nights and played until Sunday morning when everyone went back to work. Those were pretty wild days!" He gave up poker for a few years and took care of things at home.

Kevin didn't just "take care of things", he was extremely motivated and opened two successful businesses. He owns Great Southwest Mortgage, with a partner, and he opened a sports bar in the Scottsdale area called K O'Donnells. They boast the best grilled chicken wings in the world!! The food service industry is a lot of work and the hours are long, but somehow he not only managed to carve out a great life for him and Jennifer but also built a great relationship with his daughter in the process.

Amazingly, Kevin O'Donnell was able to return to his roots and started playing poker again with unbelievable results. In June of 2007 he placed third in the Bellagio Cup (winning 22K), during the WSOP this year he took 14th in the 2K PLHE Event, and he placed 33rd in the 5K World Championship Heads Up No Limit Event!! These three events are just barely touching the surface of what Kevin has accomplished.

So, how does he feel about his daughter following in his footsteps? "I like it, I love having her around and it is nice to have a common interest with your daughter. I hope after she graduates college, that she has a great poker career if that's what she decides. My only fear is if she ends up making a lot of money, she is going to come to me and say I'm done with college. Besides that and all the boys hitting on her, I love having her in the poker world".

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