Susie Isaacs: Poker prowess with Southern class

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By Lauren Failla

Susie Isaacs has been a staple in the poker community for more than 25 years, and her many bracelets and major wins have made her a household name.

I’ve had the privilege of spending time with Susie on and off the felt, and she is a true Southern belle. She constantly gets stopped for a picture or autograph and graciously obliges. Susie has made herself into a one-woman poker powerhouse as a poker instructor (for High Heels Poker Tour Acadamy, too) with numerous published books, including a novel called White Knight/Black Night, loosely based on life in the poker world. I expect her career will continue to grow as she keeps reinventing herself since she’s in it for the long haul.

Susie recently agreed to answer some of my questions so the Ante Up Nation could get to know her a little better.

How long have you been playing poker?

Playing and studying poker seriously since 1988.

What is your earliest memory of playing poker?

When I was real little, my male cousins played poker on a Monopoly board as a camouflage to disapproving Southern Baptist parents. I was the lookout. As soon as I could count, they let me play. My daddy wouldn’t even allow a deck of cards in the house and dice only on board games.

What is your favorite game?

Stud, stud high-low, limit hold’em and no-limit hold’em.

What is your favorite hand?

Lately, pocket jacks. They have been holding up and I have been maximizing them. This would not have been the answer several weeks ago.

Do you play online?

Oh, yes.

How often?

When I was writing my books (full-time job for a couple of years) playing online “saved me.” Normally, I get my “poker fix” three to five times a week at Doyle’s Room or PokerStars.

Tell me a little about your personal life and how it interacts with poker, both in the early years and now.

Poker has been my life since 1988, writing articles, books, playing poker, giving poker seminars, teaching private students and selling poker “stuff” from my Web site at www.susieisaacs.com.

How do you feel about up-and-coming female players? Do you find them too aggressive?
Are they a good representation of the game and a good representation for women?

Like anything or anywhere in life, even church, there are the good and the bad. I don’t think the young girls today have any idea of the groundwork we “seasoned” female players laid for them for the last several decades. They can read a lot of this history in my book, Queens Can Beat Kings.

You’re in the Women’s Poker Hall of Fame. Do you think that sometimes gets overshadowed and you don’t get the recognition you deserve because of all the hype placed on sexiness?

On the contrary. I’ve been made to feel like this is a great honor, which it is. Players used to talk about me winning two bracelets, now I hear the whispers about me being “on the wall at Binion’s.” I am often called Barbara (Enright) or Marsha (Waggoner) because I am one of the women in the Women’s Poker Hall of Fame.

If you had some advice for female players considering poker as a career, what would it be?

Go for it! But always, always have a real job to pay the rent. Very few make it as a professional player and truly make their monthly nut. Many claim to, but they all have other income.

Did you ever have a poker mentor?

Indeed, Tom McEvoy. I went to Tom’s first poker seminar in 1988 and have one of his first books. He was a turning point for me. It delights me to see his success of late.

Do you still feel you’re learning all the time or do you feel you have mastered the game?

I am, and will always be, a student of the game. I usually learn something new every time I play, even if it’s another donkey play. I sometimes teach seminars with other pros and I always learn something new. If one thinks they have learned all there is to know about playing winning poker, that one is either arrogant, stupid or both!

What can we expect from you in the near future and where can we find out more information about you and where you will be next?

I have a calendar on my Web site that will tell anyone who is interested where I will be and when. My books and other poker stuff can also be found on my site.

— Lauren Failla writes a monthly column for Ante Up, tracking the progress of women in poker. Email her at lauren@highheelspokertour.com.