When you meet Kim Simpson she’s unassuming, soft-spoken and oftentimes reserved, but when you sit at a table with her all bets are off. With more than $86,000 in tournament winnings she’s a serious player on a mission. Poised with her lighted duck card protector, her moves are calculated and often leave you scratching your head wondering how you will get her off the hand.
With husband watching and offering tips and moral support, there’s not only a love for the game but also a great love for each other. As we move through the women’s poker community you’ll see these women have a story to tell and are truly the most interesting part — to me — of the poker lifestyle.
How long have you been playing poker? Seriously since 2005, but played with friends and family since I was a teenager.
What is your earliest memory of playing poker? My very first tournament was an ESPN tournament. I was scared to death; my hands were shaking so much I could not count the chips. When I got heads-up the floor person had to assist me. I went on to win first out of 150.
What is your favorite game? Texas Hold’em.
What is your favorite hand? Q-10 suited. Works for me, most of the time.
Do you play online, and how often? Yes. PokerStars and Full Tilt. My online name is Kimi Lee. I prefer playing live action or tournaments.
Tell me a little about your personal life and how it interacts with poker. I am a mom of three boys. My days are full with school, sports, errands, dinner, homework and whatever else needs to be done … and then poker. I have been married for 24 years to my high school sweetheart, Mark. He’s very supportive of me, which makes all of this much easier to do. I could not reach for this dream if I did not have him by my side.
How do you feel about the 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? A lot of the “up and coming” female players are young, with no children. Not all, but most. They play the game well, but I would love to see more moms representing.
What is your poker dream? My dream is to make the final table of the WSOP main event. To be the only woman to make it since Barbara Enright would be a dream come true. A bracelet or two along the way would be great!
If you had some advice for female players what would it be? In a sport so heavily dominated by men it’s hard. But, don’t let yourself get beaten down. Each loss you take is a lesson. At least it should be. Did you play the hand wrong? Raise too much, too little, out of position, or should you have been in the hand at all? Use these lessons/losses to improve your game and you will be a winner.
You can read all the books and study the game all you want but don’t forget about that “inner sense” that God gave you. I could not play the game without it.
Do you have a poker mentor or someone who you have been influenced by? I watched my father play when I was young. I always admired his play and also how often he won! I believe he passed some of that ability down to me.
Do you still feel you are learning all the time? Yes, always. Doctors, lawyers, etc. are all professionals and have to take continuation classes and studies. As a poker player if I want to be a professional I can never stop learning. I have to keep evolving and reinventing myself for each new opponent.
What do you feel is a large part of the game that drives you? Spirituality, timed aggression, luck, etc. I am a very competitive person and I want to win. When I’m playing it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female I want to beat you. I believe God has given me the ability or talent to do that. My inner strength comes from him. A little luck doesn’t hurt either.
What can we expect from you in the near future? Where can you see yourself in the next five years in relation to poker? I am concentrating my efforts now on entering larger tournaments. I want to enter in as many WPT events and WSOP circuit events as possible this next season. In five years (hopefully sooner) I want my name to be among one of the highest ranking players, male or female.
— Lauren Failla tracks the progress of women in poker. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.