Meet Ebony Kenney, Florida’s hottest poker player



By Garrett Roth

Seasoned tournament player Ebony Kenney is finally catching her hot streak.
Her conquering of the Palm Beach Poker Classic’s main event for more than $20,000 also gave her the title of PBPC Player of the Year, culminating an incredible run that began in 2009.

The Estero, Fla., resident has won some of Florida’s most prestigious tournaments, including the $1K Hard Rock Summer Open main event last year ($54,000). She followed up that performance with a third-place finish in the ladies event and a chop in Event 5 at the Isle Florida State Championship for a combined $11,000.

Kenney, who now has a backer, started playing poker in home games with a couple of her friends, long before the “Moneymaker Effect.”

“My first real tournament was at the Sands in Atlantic City,” she said. “It was a $45 buy-in. My friends and I had a last-longer bet and there were about 100 entrants. I won the tournament outright. The same weekend, I had my first taste of cash games and parlayed my $45 into more than $4,000. It was a good trip.”

Downswings are a part of the poker lifestyle, however, and Kenney knows this well. Her bankroll was busted just before her latest run in Florida.

“I’ve been on the end where I don’t cash for a dozen or more tournaments,” she said. “I know how to deal with the downswings.”

Kenney would say emotional control is one of the most important factors in the separation of “good” and “great” players, and her results display this perfectly.

A mother of two children, Kenney attributes her recent success to playing and running well.
“It’s nice when I’m actually winning coin-flips and hands are holding when they should,” she said. “I’m able to maximize those opportunities by playing well. I’ve played five tournaments in the past month and final-tabled three. I’m really happy about the way I’m playing.”

It also helps that she has some top players as friends to discuss hands with, which creates more opportunities for improvement in her game. Some of her close friends include North Miami Beach’s Steve Karp (runner-up in 2009 WSOP Event 7), Ronnie Bardah (24th in the 2010 WSOP Main Event), Adam Adler (fourth in 2009 WSOP Event 11), and Tampa’s John Racener (member of 2010 WSOP November Nine).

Her future seems bright in the tournament circuit. She’s going to continue playing Florida’s larger buy-in tournaments, which now include the World Poker Tour.

“I’ll be playing the WPT event in November, which will be good test run for the upcoming televised event in April,” she said.

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