Deal Me In - Jennifer Harman.

In its pages are never-before-revealed details of the lives of some of the biggest names in poker. Phil Hellmuth’s new book profiles 20 of the biggest poker players in the world, giving the reader an intimate look at the game’s biggest celebrities.

Deal Me In, a collection of autobiographical accounts from many of poker’s elite, is now available to order online exclusively at The book highlights the struggles, obstacles, and tragedies that 20 of the greatest poker pros have overcome in their journeys to the top. is providing exclusive excerpts from the book each Sunday. This week’s passage focuses on high-stakes cash game pro Jennifer Harman, who talks about her early health trouble and how poker helped keep her mind on something else:

“It was between my 17th and 18th birthdays that I became very ill, developing kidney failure. I was gravely familiar with this condition. My mom had died of it. It’s a medical problem that runs in our family. I needed a kidney transplant, and had to undergo dialysis for four months while I waited for a donor to become available. The doctors told me that I had only months to live without a new kidney.

“The days I wasn’t on dialysis I went to the casino. Poker took my mind off my health problems, and helped me get through a very tough time. You can imagine the anxiety one feels waiting for a kidney to become available as the clock is ticking. I played between four and six days a week, gambling with money I had saved from jobs I held at Dairy Queen and Macy’s. I lost more than I won during this time; I remember making a lot of trips to the ATM machine. And when I finally had the transplant I took a leave from poker and went to college at the University of Nevada, Reno. I didn’t return to the tables for three years, focusing my efforts on my studies and regaining my strength.

“When I turned 21 I was hired as a cocktail waitress at Harrah’s in Reno. My job was to fill in for other waitresses when they were on break, so I worked different areas of the casino, including the poker room. Because I had been playing poker for so many years, I already knew a lot of players at the tables — they tipped really well. I was making good money cocktailing and after about a month on the job I began playing poker at the end of my shifts. I’d often play against the same people I was serving beers to a few hours earlier — and I was winning. In fact, I was making more money at the tables than I did at my job, and like I said, the cocktailing income was pretty good.

“Gaining confidence, I began playing in the higher limit games, $5-$10 and $10-$20. As I won more, the larger blinds became less intimidating. I had built up a decent bankroll, so I didn’t have to play ‘scared.’ Nobody was backing me; I was playing strictly on my own money.

“Playing higher and winning more cash didn’t eliminate the pain of losing, however. I remember dropping $200 during one session and being really upset about it. I had never lost that much before, and I was steamed. I took another $200 out of my pocket, walked into the casino and put it all down on one hand of blackjack. I was so nervous I was shaking. I won, picked up my money and left. I was even for the night. I didn’t play blackjack again for a long time — and then only for fun.”




0 Responses

Sort Responses by [ Oldest First - Newest First - Most Popular ]

Got something to say? Click here to Add a Response!

Sorry, no responses found!