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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Jennifer Harman

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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.

When tournament poker started becoming a mainstay on many television stations there were a few players that seemed to be showing up more often than not.  In the early 2000’s, when poker started making regular appearances on television, there was still a pretty big disbelief that women were not only playing poker, but playing poker at a very high level.  Luckily, the sight of a woman at a poker table is causing less head shaking, and the sight of a woman deep in a major poker tournament is growing comfortably common as well.  One of those women that have been a feature on both the televised poker tournaments and final tables is Jennifer Harman.  For a number of years she grinded the poker circuit more than any man or woman, but in recent years has settled down to have a family with her husband, fellow poker-pro Marco Traniello.  Don’t let her decision to slow down a bit confuse you into thinking she’s not taking poker seriously anymore.  As you will see, she’s still a favorite at any poker game at which she sits down.

Jennifer Harman was born November 29, 1964 in Reno, Nevada.  Harman was introduced to the game of poker by her dad through his weekly home game.  By the time Harman was eight years old she knew the basics of the game just by standing tableside.  Her dad began letting her play some hands for him now and then, and over time let her actually sit in on the game.  Before Harman was even out of elementary school she was no stranger to a cash poker game.
 
At the time Harman didn’t think she would go on to become a professional poker player, but the game did hold a special place in her heart.  In the meantime she concentrated on her studies.  She decided to go to the University of Reno to study Biology.
 
Shortly before Harman had gone away for college the family was devastated when her sister died from a kidney disease.  Learning the disease was hereditary, Jennifer had herself checked for the disease, and sure enough she had it.  As a young adult she had one kidney transplant, and again in 2004 she was forced to have another, which kept her away from the poker tables for almost a year.  As of now she has a clean bill of health, but will always have to keep a close eye on the condition.

While attending college she needed to find some ways to help her family pay her tuition, so she got a job as a waitress at a nearby Indian casino, where she only had to be 18 to work. Harman always hoped she got to serve the poker tables because she loved watching the action. Wanting to be part of that action Harman got a fake ID so she could play at another nearby casino where she needed to be "21" to play.

Most of the stories in this series seem to mention the poker player in question quitting college to pursue their poker goals, but Harman finished her degree.  However, it wasn’t all easy for Harman, especially in her personal life.  After giving a half-hearted attempt at finding a job in biology, she decided to go after the career she knew she really wanted to try – poker.  Despite her father showing her the game of poker many years earlier, he didn’t like Harman’s career choice.  The dispute unfortunately went on for a number of years, and eventually Harman showed her father that she was both successful and happy in her choice.  Not only did Harman face an uphill battle trying to make it as a professional poker player as a woman, she also had to pursue it knowing her family wasn’t talking to her because of it.  Thankfully the entire family gets along well today.

Harman started playing low to mid stake cash games in the mid-80’s, and for about a decade that was her main source of income.  In the local Reno and Vegas games she started developing a reputation as a very solid player.  By the mid-90’s she began to move up in stakes and also began participating in more poker tournaments.

Harman tasted her first bit of success at the World Series of Poker in 1996.  That year she cashed in two events, including final tabling the $2,500 Pot Limit Hold’em event, finishing 6th for $15,750.  Four years later she earned her first WSOP bracelet when she won the $5,000 No Limit 2-7 Draw event for $146,250.  Just two years later she would become the only woman in history to win two WSOP bracelets when she took down $5,000 Limit Hold’em Event for $212,440.  Harman’s prowess in Limit Hold’em drew the attention of Doyle Brunson.  Brunson asked Harman to write the chapter on Limit Hold’em for Super System II.
 
For her tournament career she has cashed in 24 WSOP events and 11 World Poker Tour Events.  She has made over 2.3 million dollars in tournament earnings, but amazing as this is, its peanuts compared to some of the cash games she has played in.  In fact, she was one of the main opponents of billionaire banker Andy Beal, which was chronicled in Michael Craig’s “The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King.”

A group of professional poker players known as “The Corporation” took on Beal in a series of heads up games between 2001-2004 with blinds that reached as high as $50,000/$100,000.  It was Beal’s goal to find a price that would make even poker professionals nervous and force them to play their best.  For a while Beal got the better of The Corporation, but at the end he ended up losing.  One of his biggest losing sessions came against Harman, in which he lost $9,000,000.  Shortly after, Beal gave up his experiment.

Harman is also one of the only woman regulars at the “Biggest Game in Town,” at Bobby’s Room in Bellagio.  Harman says that she is probably the most “poor” of the regulars of the game, poor being a relative term, and in a good year she clears about a $1M.  When she isn’t there, she is a sponsored pro at Full Tilt Poker, where she plays the biggest cash games online under her real name.

As mentioned, Harman is married to poker professional Marco Traniello, in which they have two children together, twins.  In addition to being a mom she is also heavily involved in charity work.  Shortly after her second kidney transplant in 2004, she founded the Creating Organ Donation Awareness, a non-profit organization.  She also promotes the NSPCA charity tournament in Las Vegas each year.

*Read Billy Monroe’s Blog*

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