The second most successful poker player of all time from the point of view of winnings ($6.2 million), Kathy Liebert – known as one of the first anti-smoking players at the game table, represents a success model in the world of female poker. Even if her glory years were between 2000-2010, Liebert continues to play poker with the same passion she did 20 years ago.
Born in 1967, in Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, Kathy spent many childhood years in Long Island. She started to play poker as a way to pass the time at the age of 12, on her mother’s kitchen table. Her mother encouraged her to do what she liked, telling her that money will come with time. When the time came, she left for Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where she got a degree in business and finance.
First steps in poker
She built her first bankroll investing in the equity market, then she left the world of corporations in order to start playing poker in the casino poker halls. She started playing poker on small stakes ($5) in 1991 in the casinos in Central City and Blackhawk, two resorts in the Rocky Mountains (in Colorado), and there was only one more step from there to becoming a professional poker player.
The start of success in professional poker
After having played for a while in casinos, Liebert was convinced by a friend to enter her first poker tournament in Vegas. If she ever had a doubt with regards to her abilities as a poker player, these were washed away when she finished second in the tournament. One week later, with her confidence in herself getting stronger, she took part in another tournament, finishing once again on second place. These two successes brought her $33,000 in the bank and more than anything, encouraged her to believe that these may be the signs of great things that may happen from that point on.
Since then, Liebert made all efforts to play in poker tournaments, spending her life traveling and playing poker. While her winnings where enough to get by, she dreamed of greater things, and her first big result came in 1997, when she finished second in the 28th edition of the World Series Poker at the tournament with a $3,000 buy-in, No Limit Hold’em, winning her biggest prize yet: $123,690.
The peak years of her career
In March 2002, she played in the Party Poker Million Championship Event, tournament with a $8,000 buy-in and succeeded in achieving the first great performance of her career, becoming the first woman to win $1 million in a poker tournament. Her performance was even greater given that, in order to finish first, she went against heavy names in international poker at the final table – Phil Helmuth or Chris Ferguson.
In 2004, she completed her portfolio of successes with the only bracelet she ever won in her career. She played in the $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout, where she beat a field of 240 players, winning against Kevin Song in the final and gaining $110,180.
In 2005, she played at the Borgata Open, where she became the first poker player to finish so high up in a WPT tournament. Third place won here filled her accounts with $427,115. Also in 2005, she became known as a TV star, winning the hearts of fans through her performance at Poker Royale: The Battle of the Sexes, a television production which brought her in the lime light as the first female hero in the history of this game.
In 2009, she played at the WPT Championship Event 2, where she got a remarkable result, second place. She won over half a million dollars. Almost 400 players formed a prize-pool of $3,444,500. She lost in the heads-up against Steve Brecher, but it is the last great result of her career. Also in 2009, she exceeded the $5 million threshold won in poker.
Liebert’s present life
She continues, to this day, to be present at numerous poker tournaments, playing with the same passion as she did in her first years, even though she doesn’t have the same success. What we took from her life philosophy is her wish to not differentiate between men and women at the game table. She considers that a person’s gender is overrated at the poker table and that people must be assessed by their intelligence and actions, all her life having refused compliments such as “a top female poker player”. Martial arts are among her activities, having a blue belt in martial arts, but most times, she is a poker coach for celebrities. With regards to poker, she describes it as a game of the mind where seriousness and discipline play an important role, to which you add certain abilities of the brain and the memory.
Even if she doesn’t enjoy being introduced in various tops, we can surely say that she is one of the poker players who opened new horizons for women passionate about the game, showing how beautiful this game is, regardless if there are men or women at the poker table.
Kathy Liebert ’s figures
- $6,220,598 she won from poker
- 22 titles won in her career
- 1 WSOP bracelet
- 7 WSOP final tables played
- 7 WPT final tables played