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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Kathy Liebert

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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.

Thankfully in this day and age the sight of a woman poker player doesn’t evoke shock like it once did not so long ago.  However, the truth is that when you are looking at the entire history of the game it is men who have played since the invention of poker, hence giving them the chance to complete all the “firsts” in poker.  So, what makes today’s profiled player, Kathy Liebert, so impressive is the number of “firsts” she has completed in her professional poker career.  Her play in tournaments has not only put her atop the list of all women who have ever played the game, but it’s also right at the top of the list of everyone that’s anyone that has ever played the game.
Kathy Liebert was born October 1, 1967 in Nashville, Tennessee, but as a baby her family moved to Long Island, New York, where she lived until adulthood.  Her family put on poker games throughout her childhood, inviting friends and neighbors, but nothing more than .5/.10 blinds.  They played poker the same way they may have played another board game like Monopoly or Scrabble, not putting any additional emphasis on the gambling of the game.  Liebert enjoyed poker night, but at that point in her life never considered making a living from the game.  Liebert instead became interested in learning how successful businesses were run, thinking she would want to start one of her own one day.
Liebert attended the private Liberal Arts College, Marist, in Poughkeepsie, New York.  After four years she graduated with a degree in business and finance.  Right out of college she got a job as a business analyst at Dun & Bradsheet, a corporation that oversees data for over 150 million companies worldwide.  Liebert excelled at her job, but after only about a year of working at the company she started to grow restless.  She knew that she held a job that most people would covet, and tried to fight back feelings she had about quitting the job.  At the same time Liebert had started investing money in the stock market at a really young age, and some of her investments were starting to pay off.  If she chose to take some time off she could do so without worrying about a heavy financial burden, but she also knew the chance of getting another job in the industry of that status would be quite difficult if she chose to quit Dun & Bradsheet.
Somewhat reluctantly, she went to her parents to talk about how she was feeling.
To her surprise her mom told her to quit and do something she really wanted to do; adding that she would never be happy doing something she didn’t truly want to do.  Feeling relieved, Liebert quit the job at the global company, and took some time off to travel before figuring out what she was going to do for a living.  While figuring out where to travel to next, she felt a calling to the Colorado Rockies.  She thought she was being called there for the skiing.  Little did she know that another calling waited for her when she arrived.

When she arrived in Colorado in the early 1990’s the state had just legalized gambling.  With only so much skiing to be done, Liebert walked into a casino for the first time in her life.  Entering she remembered how much she enjoyed playing poker with friends and family during their game nights.  She sat down at a small stakes limit game, and enjoying herself, had already made plans to come back before she left that night.  In the following months she began playing almost every day, and started reading every book available on poker, which wasn’t a lot at the time.  She started playing so much that she was asked to take a job as a “prop” player, which is a person hired by the casino to keep a particular game starting, or starting another.  As a prop player she gained even more experience, and it helped her learning curve to know she was getting paid at least a little something even if she has a bad day at the tables, but there weren’t many bad days.

On the advice of a friend, Liebert headed to Las Vegas to try out some tournaments.  In the very first tournament she ever entered, a $100 Hi/Lo Omaha tournament, she took second and won $9,046.  Less than a week later she finished second in another tournament, this time earning $14,091.  In one week she earned just over $23,000.  I’m not sure if her friend got any reward for her advice.

Over the next couple years, Liebert continued to play in relatively small buy-in tournaments, but continued to place well in a large majority of the ones she entered.  In 1997 she made her World Series of Poker debut, finishing second in the $3,000 No Limit Hold’em event.  She not only won $123,690, but also started to make a name for herself as one of the best tournament players on the regular circuit in Las Vegas.  That same year she also finished in the money of the $3,000 Pot Limit event, finishing 18th.
In 1998 Liebert gained attention on an even bigger level by making the final two tables of the WSOP Main Event, finishing 17th and earning $30,000 in the process.  In 2000 she accomplished the same feat, finishing 17th again in the WSOP.  Unable to sneak up on anyone anymore, all her competitors brought their top game when they played her, but she continued to have high finishes in the premier events on the tournament calendar every year.  

In 2002 Liebert became the first woman ever to win a million dollars in a tournament when she won the inaugural Party Poker Million event.  The final table was a tough one.  Liebert had to out-duel the likes of Phil Hellmuth (3rd), Chris “Jesus” Ferguson (6th), and Mel Judah (9th).  Because of the “Poker Boom,” which had just come into fruition, Liebert became one of the “faces” in poker after this historic victory.

In what has been called “The Year of The Woman,” Liebert won her first WSOP bracelet in the $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout, winning $110,180.  Others ladies to win bracelets that year were Cindy Violette and Annie Duke.  Since this WSOP victory, Liebert has come very close to winning another bracelet, including finishing 3rd at the 2008 $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha Championship, earning $306,064.  Her 29 money finishes at the WSOP put her atop the list for most cashes for a woman.  Also, her prize winnings of nearly 6 million dollars put her number one in the female category, and in the top 40 of all people who ever played the game.  Her biggest cash recently was $550,000 which she earned in March at the World Poker Tour’s Bay 101 Shooting Stars event, where she finished second.

In her free time Liebert continues to travel.  She has also stuck to the stock market, and apparently has done very well despite the economic downturn in recent years.  She also has a black belt in Karate, just in case things ever get a little crazy at the poker table!

*Read Billy Monroe's Blog*

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