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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Susie Isaacs

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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.

It’s hard to believe that in this day and age that heads still turn when they see a woman sitting at a poker table.  With everything else that has been accepted in our culture, it’s apparent that some men still get awkward feelings knowing they will be competing with a member of the opposite sex.  This is a sight that Susie Isaacs has seen thousands of times over her historic poker career, which has now lasted over twenty years.  Actually, the sight that she has seen over the last two decades was her looking down at the big pile of chips in front of her on her way to another big tournament finish.  It’s funny to think though, that this once southern belle of a housewife originally probably also scoffed at the idea of a lady playing poker, and now she’s recognized as “Ms. Poker.”  My, how times have changed.

Susie Isaacs, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, had an early life that can be called traditional, with a big emphasis on family and church.  As you can expect with a family with these values, gambling was looked down on, and therefore Isaacs didn’t even dream of a career in poker until much later in life.  Her only experience in poker as a child was being the lookout for her cousins playing poker during family outings.  If Isaacs saw a grownup coming, it would be her job to alert her cousins so they could quickly make it appear they were doing something else.  Isaacs did want to get in on these games, so she did what she could to earn a few dollars.  She sold her comic book collection to her cousins for $2.35.  Imagine what those comic books would be worth now.  She’s probably more than made up for that at this point.

Even at an early age Isaacs knew she wanted to get out and see what else the world had to offer.  However, perhaps because of fear from her parents, her early adult life was spent much the same way the rest of her life had gone up until that point.  She got married young, just like her mother, and also like her mother, was a stay at home wife and mother while her husband was the breadwinner.  Soon after giving birth to her son, they divorced.  By 1978 Isaacs had remarried and it was here that poker started becoming more of a part of her life.

The couple and her step daughter moved to Las Vegas, and it was here that Isaacs started playing poker again, but at first, just for fun.  Her husband fancied himself the real player of the couple, but would bring his wife along for the social aspect of it.  It was while at different casinos Isaacs noticed that some of them offered “Ladies Only” tournaments.  At first she started playing in these with her friends, with the thought of gaining additional friends.  Soon though, she found herself enjoying the game on such a high level she began to wonder if she could take over for her husband as the poker player in the family.  Overtime she found herself thinking more and more about the game, and in return she routinely started being the big winner in both their social games, and at the casino.
 
Isaacs, also an established writer, wrote her first book in 1986, titled “A Lady’s Not Supposed to Sweat!” after winning her very first poker tournament.  While the prize money wasn’t extraordinary, the experience was.  Isaacs continued to play in smaller buy-in tournaments for the rest of the decade, but unfortunately in 1990 her second marriage came to an end.

Isaacs was at a crossroads at her life.  She loved the game of poker, but didn’t know if she was good enough to actually consider being a professional.  She had been a winning player, but never on the level where she would be able to provide for herself solely on the game.  After some soul searching she made the decision to devote her life to poker, and become a professional poker player.  As you can expect, her family didn’t take it well, especially her father.  Her mom was still supportive of her, and eventually became her biggest fan at the poker table.

For the first couple of years in the 1990’s, Isaacs had some marginal success, even placing in the $500 Women’s 7-Card Stud event at the 1991 World Series of Poker .  In 1992 Isaacs had her first major score when she finished in first place of her first major tournament, the $500 Limit Hold’em event at the Queens Poker Classic II.  The victory netted her $13,800, and was just a sign of things to come.

The end of the decade started a run of great success for Isaacs.  In 1996 she won the $1,000 Women’s 7-Card Stud event at the WSOP for $38,000.  The following year she duplicated this feat, taking down the same tournament, this time for $40,000.  With that victory she became the first woman to win that event in back-to-back years.  Despite that historic achievement, she almost made more history in 1998 when she was the last woman eliminated in the Main Event, earning an additional $40,000.  During this string of success her mom became her personal “mascot” appearing at all of Susan’s biggest events.  Even her father, who by this time was suffering from a variety of illnesses, accepted Isaacs’ career choice   From Southern Belle to Poker Queen, the transformation was complete.

All said, Isaacs has finished in the money of 12 events in the WSOP, making her ranked in the top 10 of all women in that category, including finishing in the top five percent of the Main Event in 2006.  Over the last few years she has cut back on the number of tournaments she plays in because she has been concentrating on her writing career, but when she does play she is still a force to be reckoned with.  In November she finished first place in the $300 No Limit Hold’em event at the Fall Poker Round-Up, finishing $41,294 richer.  In fact, with the exception of the $42,000 she won as Women’s champ at the WSOP, showing she is still going strong.

Her books are some of the most read in the industry.  “Queens Can Beat Kings: Broad-Minded Poker for Winning Woman,” is a guide written for women to help them get involved in the game.  “1000 Best Poker Strategies and Secrets” is a collection of tips she has learned in her 20 years as a professional poker player.  Most recently she wrote “White Knight, Black Nights: Poker is Skill, Life Is the Gamble,” is her newest book, published at the beginning of this year.  Her latest effort is also her first foray into fiction.

On top of book writing, Isaacs is a regular contributor to many top magazines, including Card Player Magazine and Poker Digest.  She also keeps a regularly updated personal website at www.susieisaacs.com.  Here you can read her blog, which she generally updates a few times a week.  She also provides poker training and poker tips through this website.  Also, you can buy any of her books or her poker inspired jewelry and clothing from this website.

In 2008 Isaacs was one of the four inaugural inductees into the Women’s Poker Hall of Fame, along with Linda Johnson, Marsha Waggoner, and Barbara Enright.  From poker “lookout” to Poker Hall of Fame member, she did certainly get that chance to go out and explore the world.

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