Q&A with poker pro Karina Jett

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What’s your connection to Florida?

My dad grew up in St. Petersburg and my family lives in St. Pete and on Treasure Island.

How often do you come back here and where have you played poker in the Sunshine State?

I’ve played at Hard Rock (Tampa), Tampa Bay Downs and in Sarasota at One-Eyed Jacks.

You’re an instructor at this month’s High Heels Poker Tour Academy at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood. How did you get involved with that?

It’s a very small circle and I knew one of the partners and they had asked me. I’m very friendly with Barbara Enright, Susie Isaacs, and I’m on the board of the Women’s Poker Hall of Fame. It’s easy for me to pair up with one of those women to teach. And since I’ve had experience teaching (with other poker schools) I guess it was a good fit. I’ve always been a big supporter of women playing poker.

What’s your favorite part about teaching people how to play poker?

I like teaching, but it also helps me. There’s always something to learn about the game. When you’re around a bunch of people you get different aspects of how a hand is played and get different opinions. … I could never be a school teacher, but this is one way that I could teach somebody something that has value. I feel like I’m giving back.

What is the single biggest mistake you see your students make?

Min-raising. When you double-raise you’re not really accomplishing anything. What do you know about that hand? It doesn’t accomplish anything. You’re just (encouraging) people to try to beat your hand. … We have some students that we tell them: “Don’t double-raise!” and then we see them at the practice session and they still double-raise.

You mentioned being a big proponent of women in poker. What do you think of ladies-only events?

I think it’s inviting and good for women to have because it allows women who are new to the game to encourage them to play with other women so they feel more comfortable. I think the big reason women don’t play is because of the intimidation factor of playing with men. … If they’re introduced in a friendly environment with other women they’ll feel more comfortable and it will snowball from there.

There are a lot of poker ventures on your plate, from the camps to your Poker’s Most Wanted playing cards and your relationship with Full Tilt Poker. How do you find the time to raise a family, travel the world to play poker and still take care of all of these business ventures?

I balance very well. (laughs) I’m constantly doing something. I’m a woman; I’m a multitasker. I’m not totally involved in one thing. That’s my nature; it keeps me going.
Is that what makes you a successful poker player, being able to keep track of so many things at once? Exactly! I think a lot of men can only do one thing and get distracted very easily. I think that’s a big plus for me because I don’t get rattled. I’m used to the pressure. (laughs)

Speaking of your family, you have two children. If they wanted to play poker when they grew up, what would you tell them?

I would encourage them to learn the game, but not to play for a living. … My passion for them is their education. I spend a lot of time with them helping them with their homework. I really value their education. But I think they should learn the game.

Your husband, Chip, is a famous pro poker player, too. Do the two of you have a rivalry at the poker table?

My husband loves to knock me out of tournaments! He is such a jerk. (laughs) I can’t even tell you how many times. It’s like “Dude, have a little sympathy for your wife!” We’re very competitive in our house. We have a lot of games, we have a pool table, video games. And that’s just one way for him to turn the dagger. (laughs)

Is there a favorite story about him you’d like to tell?

One time, I swear to God I was going to punch him in the face! (laughs). We’re in this tournament and he asked the players at the table “Should I play this hand against her?” Of course they’re going to say yes because they want him to knock me out; they want to see drama! He listens to them and it’s like “Hello? Have your own mind!” Needless to say he got an hour lecture on that. At least an hour! (laughs).