About Kristy Arnett, Professional Poker Player
Interview with Kristy Arnett.

I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I’d say I was a smart cookie, but my life revolved around competing. I was given an academic and soccer scholarship to play Division I soccer at Indiana Purdue of Fort Wayne where I studied communications and journalism.

I started playing poker in college, and loved the competitive aspect of it. Once I started making a few extra dollars from it, I became obsessed. I played and dealt poker in underground games in Fort Wayne, IN until I decided to move to Las Vegas during my senior year to finish school. After pursuing a few employees at Card Player through MySpace, I landed an internship there. I worked my way up to a full-time position and transitioned into on-camera presenting.

In 2010, I moved to PokerNews. During my time there, I traveled the world, interviewed the game’s best players, and elevated my own poker game to a new level. In March, I left my position at PokerNews to play poker full-time and to pursue other passions.

You seem to live life at a hundred miles per hour and a great inspiration to others, tell us why? You worked for 4 years at PokerNews, what made you decide to quit your dream job and become a professional poker player?

Even though I LOVED my job, I just didn’t feel like I could grow in that position anymore. I knew I couldn’t be the PokerNews girl forever, and I wanted to pursue other passions of mine. Playing poker is one of them. I want to see how good I can become and poker also provides a ton of financial and schedule freedom. I knew I’d be able to pursue my other passions such as writing and health/fitness. This would give me an opportunity to do that.

Do you think professional poker is still dominated by men? Has there been a significant increase in female players the last few years? In your professional opinion what’s the difference between male and female poker players?

Poker is still dominated by men as far as numbers go, but yes, I have seen a significant increase amongst female players in the last few years. There is no difference between men and women and their cognitive abilities to be great at the game.

Certainly there are common obstacles or circumstances that men face and women face that are different, but in my opinion, it’s all fluff that doesn’t really matter. For example, a woman may get “hit on” more often than a man does at a table. It can be distracting, but it only becomes a barrier or hindrance if we let it be. Temperament, mental game, poker knowledge, experience, discipline and commitment are the most important keys to being successful at poker, and men and women are equally capable of accessing all of those.

En route to your success what’s the 3 biggest mistakes you made?

This is a really tough question, but I love it. One of the biggest mistakes I made was changing who I was to try to please other people. When I started on-camera presenting, I read all the comments and forum posts. Of course, many people were complimentary but that’s not usually what we focus on.

I began running thoughts and actions through a filter of, “What will they think?” That was exhausting! Now I choose to be who I am regardless of what other people think. Another mistake was that I often played it safe. Whether that was with an article I wrote, a video idea, or in my own poker playing career. When I risked, I got so much more response and pretty great results. I never did anything memorable when I played it safe. And all the other mistakes, you can find on one of my many blooper videos!

In your early years who were your mentors and what did you learn from them?

When I first started doing videos for Card Player, Lizzy Harrison was a huge mentor. She was encouraging and more than happy to help me. As far as my poker game, I have lots of mentors.

My first one is my husband who is an incredible cash game player. He taught me what it takes to be a humble grinder and win. In 2010, I had the opportunity to do video series on Deuces Cracked and they provided me with coaching from Andrew “Balugawhale” Seidman. He completely transformed my game by giving me a framework for trains of thought in hand reading. And it all starts with, “Why? Why are you betting? Why are you folding? Why?”

If someone wants to become a professional poker player, what tips would you give to them?

I would say to make sure you’re taking a shot responsibility. Find poker players better than you to be a mirror for your strengths and weaknesses. Ego will is a giant reason most poker players fail. They refuse to look at what’s not working and instead, justify all their actions. The best players in the world expose their leaks, lean on their strengths, and work tirelessly to improve.

You’ve rubbed shoulders with some of the most successful poker players in the business. Which celebrity poker player/s made a lasting impression upon you and why?

Daniel Negreanu. The first time I met him, he knew who I was because he read Card Player and had seen my articles. I could barely speak because I was so starstruck, but he told me to keep writing. He was friendly, genuine and encouraging. Then, throughout my career, he’s always been supportive. When he sees someone pursuing their dreams, it lights up a part of him that he can’t help but want to contribute.

I admire that he’s outspoken, stands up for what he believes, and is always considerate of others. From what I’ve seen and experienced, he’s always giving towards with fans and media. Just a few days ago, he gave an acceptance speech for being inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, and he recognized that he wants his legacy to transcend poker. The day before that he raised $350,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. That’s the kind of person I aspire to be.

Have you played online poker before? If so, what’s the difference between playing online and live poker?

Yes, I’ve played online poker before. Just a few months before Black Friday, I won a heads-up MiniFTOPS event for $32,000. At the time, I was grinding six-max cash games and getting coaching from Andrew Seidman. The difference is enormous. Sure the rules are the same, but it’s a different game. Ranges, player skill, bet sizing, it’s all different.

In poker, bad beats are part and parcel of the game. What’s the worst bad beat you ever had?

I don’t really remember. I know I had quad jacks against quad queens before. It was a tiny game though. I guess I’ve just been pretty lucky my whole career! Or I have a selective memory!

If one wants to participate in the WSOP how does one go about it? What’s the biggest poker tournament you played in to date and how did you fare?

All you have to do is decide that you are doing it, and you’ll figure it out. If your clear intention is that you will play the tournament, you will stop at nothing until it happens. That means finding staking, winning a satellite, saving money, using frequent flyer miles, borrowing a friend’s rewards card for a room, whatever it takes.

The biggest tournament I’ve played to date is the WSOP Main Event. I’ve played it twice and have not cashed. The first year, I played which was three years ago, I busted the first day. I wasn’t ready to play it. I was all in my head and scared to lose.

This past summer, I did really well on Day 1, and then ran into a couple tough spots on Day 2. I even folded middle set correctly in a spot where I should have gone broke. I was short after that and wasn’t able to recover. I will cash this year though for sure!

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you or to a fellow player during a poker tournament?

Well since I know so many people in the poker industry, it’s always funny when a pro like Jason Mercier or Huck Seed says hi to me while I’m playing. Everyone else at the table is always like, “Oh you must be so good!” or “Are you some kind of a big deal or something?” I just nod yes. :)