does a 21 year-old college student go from playing
$5 Sit-N-Gos to making a living playing $100/$200
limit poker and appearing on nationally televised
poker events in less than one-year? PokerLizard
sat down with Jennifer "Jennicide" Leigh,
one of the most well known names in online poker
to find out the answer.
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PokerLizard: Ok, so how did you first get interested
Jennifer: Actually, when I was a little girl,
I got into video games and lived my life on the
computer. I played mostly RPG's (role-playing
games), which has a big community, and so began
talking to other players. One of them was Robert
Boyd, who is Dutch Boyd's brother. He introduced
me to poker and I started with $5 Sit ‘N
Go's, and I actually won my first one. And that's
what kind of thrilled me into finding out more.
So I went out the next week and purchased like
20 poker books to start learning.
PokerLizard: Which ones would you say helped
you the most?
Jennifer: “Theory of Poker” by Sklansky,
and also his Tournament Poker for Advanced Players
were definitely very beneficial to my learning.
PokerLizard: Those two sure are a grind to get
Jennifer: They are, they are, but I was a pre-law
major in college, so learning and reading have
always gone hand in hand for me. I was very studious
PokerLizard: So how long would you say you've
been playing ‘serious' poker?
Jennifer: I'd say about 6-7 months now, meaning
that's my main source of income.
Up until then, it was just a learning process
and more or less just trying to improve my game
– playing small tournaments online. Then
I realized it was time to leave school because
my grades were just slumping. So since I was able
to pay my bills with poker, I decided to give
it a go. It wasn't something I sat down and figured
out, “well, this is what I'm going to do.”
It just fell into place. And it's definitely not
the glamorous lifestyle a lot of people think
it is, but I'm giving it a shot.
PokerLizard: So you just turned 22…
Jennifer: Yes, just last month. So I'm taking
a little break from school and giving poker a
try just to see where it leads.
PokerLizard: So tell us how you go from $5 SNG's
to playing $100/200 on PokerStars?
Jennifer: [laughs] Well, it's actually funny.
You never really think those little SNG's will
lead up to this level, but it's really all about
the competition for me, not the monetary effects.
So it's a grind, just building up, learning daily,
and always trying to improve your game. I think
that putting in all those long sessions like I
used to do and studying hand histories really
helped me get to this level. And some of those
sessions were 48 hours.
I used to be an EverQuest junkie, and I'd pull
48 hour sessions playing that, so long endurance
games are nothing new to me.
PokerLizard: Did you ever have a mentor while
you were learning the game?
Jennifer: I've never really had one mentor, per
se, but have just spent a lot of time talking
to other players about my game. With NL tournaments,
I do have someone who's helped me the most –
PokerLizard: So what are you favorite games –
NL tournaments, cash games, etc?
Jennifer: Well, I really enjoy them all now that
I've gotten more into the limit games.
And there is so much variance in tournament poker
that it can be pretty rough! The swings are just
incredible. It's very hard to make an honest living
as a straight tournament player only.
PokerLizard: So are you planning on using poker
as a springboard to something else down the road?
Jennifer: I'm really just seeing where it takes
me. Some people really plan 4-5 years in the future,
but I don't have much of a gameplan right now.
I just want to see where it all goes.
Something I think a lot of poker players have
in common is that they're major procrastinators.
Up until 3 days before this recent tournament
[the Legends WPT],
I didn't even have a flight booked! I wish I could
sit down and plan out a real nice agenda, but
things just don't work like that in my mind –
I'm very spontaneous.
PokerLizard: How about the Legends tournament
– what are your impressions of that tournament?
Jennifer: Oh, well I went into Day 2 kinda bummed
with only about $6400 in chips, and then I went
out with queens about 30 minutes into Day 2. But
that's tournament poker for you.
At least with a cash game, when you lose a hand,
it doesn't kill the day for you. But coming out
here and playing in a long tournament, that's
all you have, so once you're out, you're out.
I really wanted to rebuy…[laughs].
PokerLizard: For 2004 you ended up number 47
PokerStars tournament board…
Jennifer: Yeah, and I think I was the highest
ranked female, which was a huge accomplishment
because it was my first year playing poker.
PokerLizard: So what is your biggest online tournament
win so far?
Jennifer: It was a $100 rebuy tournament on PokerStars
with a $16K prize pool. Of course I was in the
tournament for $2200 worth of rebuys...
[PokerLizard Note: Since our interview Jennifer
finished the $1,000 Limit Hold-em event in the
World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) in
9th place, earning approximately $11,000 - the
PokerLizard.com mojo strikes again]
PokerLizard: So you definitely subscribe to the
Daniel Negreanu theory of rebuys.
Jennifer: Yes, and it's true. If you're a pretty
solid tournament player, what you do is make sure
that you spot out the weakest players at your
table, then you move in on them. They're going
to call, which builds up the chips at your table.
Then later in the tournament, you'll be able to
make moves on those chips and build your stack
PokerLizard: So basically you're trying to win
your and their rebuys back.
Jennifer: Yes, exactly. You have to look at the
payout odds. For instance, rebuying four times
for $400 to win $15K is a pretty decent ratio,
PokerLizard: How often would you say you play
online these days?
Jennifer: Not as often when I'm traveling, like
recently. It's really more something I do when
I'm home and not doing much. And when I do play,
it's usually $30/60, or $100/200 ring games.
PokerLizard: I noticed you've taken some razzing
on the internet from some you call “railtards.”
What has that been all about?
Jennifer: Yes, that all stemmed from me letting
too many people know about my personal life. At
that time I was young and dating, which everyone
does, but my ignorance led to too many people
knowing all about it. So of course they would
come to my tables and continuously ask me questions
about my personal life – who am I dating,
etc. That's when I decided to play under a different
name until things quiet down.
I mean, pick up a tabloid magazine. The Brad
and Jen break-up, that's huge. Not this! [laughs]
PokerLizard: They really have nothing better
going on in their own lives, so they spend their
time knocking other people down…
Jennifer: Right, and what they don't realize
is that I'm just another poker degenerate like
them. It's funny, because I love this life of
poker. I love to go on the forums and discuss
poker but now I have to spend my time defending
myself and dealing with everything BUT poker.
But I grew up online too and am just another nerd.
PokerLizard: You definitely hear about a lot
of poker players who used to play Magic the Gathering,
Chess, and Backgammon. But you don't hear a lot
who are touted as “ex-videogame players.”
Jennifer: Well the two really do go hand-in-hand.
When you start a videogame, like an adventure
one, and your character is at Level 1, you can
equate that to the starting level of a poker tournament.
Everybody starts the same way. Then you accumulate
information as the tournament progresses, just
like in RPG's (Role Playing Games). And in both
types of games, you're there for one reason –
to make it to the “final battle” or
So that's the mindset I use in tournaments and
I think it helps me. It's the same with the Chess
players and Magic the Gathering players –
the competitive nature in all of them really helps
them in poker. All of these different forms of
strategy games are great learning tools for succeeding
PokerLizard: So tell us about your nickname,
Jennifer: I used to belong to a few hacking groups
– not the malicious ones – and I decided
this would be my name for all the online discussions
groups. I was definitely a nerd when growing up.
I was a Linux user with about 6 machines on my
desk. That was my life!
I'm actually very girlie – just to look
at me, you'd never guess that I was totally into
Linux and coding in C. Nobody knew! On the inside,
I'm this complete nerd.
PokerLizard: I think it's safe to say that without
you admitting it here, no one would ever have
Jennifer: Exactly! You know I'm always wearing
pink and girly-girl sparkly things, but when you
actually talk to me about my interests, the truth
PokerLizard: So a lot of these other players,
like Scott Fischman, David Williams – they
mention that being a young pro is really tough
on relationships. What's your take on that?
Jennifer: It's almost impossible to have a relationship.
I thought maybe it would be easier for me to date
other players, but when both of you are running
bad, it's impossible to even have a conversation.
It's also really difficult to have friends outside
of poker. They're always calling up to do stuff
and you have a totally bizarre schedule, so it
doesn't work out.
That's why I've tried lately to cut down on playing
online tournaments and just stick to the $100/200
ring games, because I can actually quit and go
have a life outside of poker. I used to just spend
a whole day playing 7 or 8 different tournaments.
Which I don't regret at all – the number
of hands I saw and all that I learned was well
worth it. And I think that's how these young players
are making such a strong push into the game, because
online they can see so many more hands than playing
PokerLizard: What was it like playing on Poker
Royale's “ Battle of the Ages”?
Jennifer: It was actually an honor. Dan Harrington's
book is definitely one of the best out there,
and I got to play with him. Also Miami John, Barbara
Enright, just the kinds of great players you don't
expect to get to sit down with at a short-handed
There were a couple of hands that I questioned,
but I'm learning too, so as soon as it comes out
on TV, I'm sure I'll write an article on my play.
The experience was just great – being able
to talk to them about poker and some different
PokerLizard: So when will it air on TV?
Jennifer: I think sometime around Nov. 11, 2005
but I'm not quite sure on that…
PokerLizard: I notice a lot of young players
have backers when they're starting out. How about
Jennifer: Actually, my winnings from the $100/200
games pay my way into the tournaments.
PokerLizard: Do you mostly try to satellite into
the big tournaments?
Jennifer: I do sometimes go that route. I just
wish every satellite was a double-shootout. I
used to be a big Sit ‘N Go player –
nine-handed tables, where the winner took all.
So a double-shootout would just be like winning
two of those SNG's.
But for most of the bigger tournaments I usually
just decide to buy-in because it seems like you
can spend more money on the satellites than the
PokerLizard: What do you like most about the
poker lifestyle, and what do you like least?
Jennifer: I know that the sacrifices are what
I like least. As in losing friends, missing so
much during the day. Sometimes I wake up at midnight
and wonder where the day went. So losing that
connection with your friends and the real world
– that's what I like the least.
But then my favorite thing about the poker lifestyle
is the fact that it's opened up so much for me.
I'm just a girl from Delaware , and I've gotten
to travel to the Bahamas , Vegas, LA, and other
girls my age wouldn't dream of being able to do
all of that.
PokerLizard: Sounds like you're pretty grounded
about the whole poker thing.
Jennifer: I still live with my parents and they
really help me stay level-headed. They're very
supportive and always there for me no matter what.
PokerLizard: OK, we're going to ask you the obligatory
Jennifer: OK…[laughs]…is it the Rounders
Jennifer: Cool – I already know the answer
to this! You don't even have to ask me, but if
I were Matt Damon, what was he thinking?? They
need a sequel just to explain the relationship
between him and his girlfriend. I mean Famke is
great, gorgeous, a knockout – go for her!
I think they should have shown the episode of
him going to the World Series with her…that
would be cool.
PokerLizard: Yep – it will always be mind-boggling…Well
thank you very much for taking the time to talk
to us today, and best of luck with your upcoming
You can check out Jennifer's blog at her website
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