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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Karina Jett

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

There is a running discontent among some poker professionals who suggest that one of the major reasons women get poker sponsorships has very little to do with their skills, as has been previously discussed.  However, as was the case with Cyndy Violette, Karina Jett also made her name in poker long before these new pretty faces ever came along.  

Poker is also home to quite a few “power couples,” where both husband and wife, or girlfriend and boyfriend, have been known to play together, and often dominate the competition.  A lot of these poker playing couples started playing together because well, if they didn’t they wouldn’t see much of each other.  Karina and her husband, Chip Jett, actually break that trend, as they actually met each other while playing poker, making their relationship a match made in heaven, or in this case, a casino.  In other words, what Jett has accomplished in poker was all due to her own doing.

Karina Jett was born Karina Mikelis in Saigon, Vietnam on August 16, 1974.  Her father, a member of the Air Force, was transferred to Las Vegas when Jett was just two years old.  When they arrived their family opened up a restaurant in order to make ends meet.  It was here that Jett’s mother also began taking up poker.  Over a short period of time she became a proficient seven card stud player, and worked to become better at all the other forms Vegas had to offer.  To this day Karina’s mother continues to do very well in low to mid stakes games.  Predictably, Jett’s mother began to teach the game to Karina when she was around 10 years old.  While Karina enjoyed the game, she didn’t really think there was much of a future in it.  Instead she was concentrating on her education.  She moved away to college and started a program to earn her degree in Political Science.  

A couple years into college her parents called her, seeking her help at the family restaurant, and a new jewelry business they had recently opened.  Reluctantly Jett returned home.  While working at the restaurant, Jett began getting interested in poker again, mostly because of her mother.  Often times while she was waiting for her mother to finish a session, Jett would take a seat behind her, waiting after many “last hands,” before her mom would actually relinquish her spot at the table.  

Over time Jett grew bored, and eventually would go find another seat in the poker room to play while she waited for her mom.  Once again, she picked right up where she did as a 10 year old, taking the game in almost as naturally as it was to breathe.  Eventually she began playing with the same group of friends, where they would play a session, and later talk about certain hands, in a way to accelerate her game.  Jett has said that she wished she would have had all the internet websites and books that are available today to help make your game better, but that didn’t stop her from becoming a successful cash player seemingly over night.

While her mom was a solid player at the levels at which she was playing, Jett soon found herself sitting at some of the bigger games Vegas had to offer.  Also like her mother, her game of choice early on was Seven Card Stud, the first game she had ever learned.  Throughout the 90’s Jett made a very good living playing cash games, originally starting with Stud, but eventually making Hold’em her game of choice, just in time for the poker boom.

As the old century ended, and the new one began, Jett to began a new chapter in her poker career.  Tournament poker was all the new rage, and rightfully so, with expanding fields making huge prize pools.  Jett started spending most of her time playing in smaller tournaments in Vegas, occasionally traveling to the East Coast.  It was during one of these trips east, in Mississippi, that she met the man that would eventually become her husband.  Chip Jett is arguably one of the top five tournament poker players in the world, and while Katrina has worked hard for everything she has in the poker world, her husband most certainly gave her a few tricks of the trade, as evidenced by her beginning to cash in some of the bigger tournaments.  After a few years of what could be described as the minor league, Jett was ready to move up to the pros.  

Between November 2001 and February 2003 Jett made a handful of final tables in a series of events ranging from a buy-in of $100 and $1,000.  However, in April 2003 she made her first big splash on the grand scale of poker when she finished 14th of the $1,500 Seven Card Stud event.  In fact, the next two years were a bit of a coming out party for Jett, as she cashed in four events over that time period, including finishing 4th for $12,800 in the $1,000 Ladies Limit Hold’em event.  

While 2003 was quite the year for Jett, one of the most remarkable things that happened to her didn’t involve a big cash at all.  In the year 2000 Annie Duke finished in 10th place of the WSOP Main Event while eight months pregnant.  Jett can most certainly relate.  In 2003 she was the chip leader of the Four Queens Classic when she went into labor.  It’s kind of fitting, because Jett knew when she had children she would have to change her poker playing schedule, and the child reminded her of that by taking her away from the table in an event she was bound to finish well in.  Of course she has no hard feelings about that, but it is ironic that that’s the way it all played out.  Jett has two children with her husband Chip.

A poker first happened in 2005 when she and Chip became the first couple to ever reach the final table of a $10,000 buy-in event.  The event was the London Open No Limit Hold’em Event.  Karina was unfortunately outlasted by her husband, finishing in 8th position, but that was good for $45,000, her biggest cash to date.  Chip would go onto to finish in 4th for $150,000.

When she isn’t raising her kids, which has taken part of her time away from the poker table, she writes a column in CardPlayer magazine with her husband, where they each address a question from a reader, and answer it in a “he said/she said” format.  Jett also has a poker inspired clothing line.  Jett was also one of the poker pros featured in the Drew Barrymore movie “Lucky You.”

When it comes to Jett it seems her best is yet to come.  As the below results indicate, she has certainly had success, but if a few hands have gone her way she could be known as among the best in the world.  When Jett isn’t honing her skills in live games, she can be seen at Full Tilt Poker, where she is one of the poker pros that represent their site.

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