The competitive poker scene is exceptionally long-lived. Since the first World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 1970, tournaments have become million-dollar events. They’re broadcast all over the world and are a large part of the reason newer players join the game. WSOP bracelets are status symbols in the community and are synonymous with poker greatness. 

Even though poker is popular, there are very few female pros. The game has been male-dominated since the beginning, with the ratio of males to females being roughly 8:1. If you’re interested in successful female pros, look no further than Jennifer Harman, one of the most accomplished female poker professionals. 

Player Overview

Jennifer Harman is an American professional poker player who is one of the most successful female poker pros of all time. She has $2,795,348 in live tournament earnings, making her the 13th highest-earning female poker pro. 

Harman has won two WSOP bracelets, both from open events. This makes her one of four women in history to do so. She has also final-tabled the World Poker Tour (WPT) twice. Despite her impressive tournament career, Harman is more known for participating in high-stakes cash games. 

She’s the only woman who is a regular at the Bellagio’s infamous “Bobby’s Room”, a poker room where the ludicrously high stakes range from $800/$1600 to $4000/$8000. Harman has also appeared on numerous poker TV shows like Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker, becoming a fan favorite and one of the few women on poker TV. 

One of Harman’s most famous games at Bobby’s Room was a battle between billionaire Andy Beal and a team of several poker pros. The team, known as “The Corporation”, included pros like Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, Ted Forrest, and more. They won millions of dollars and had their exploits immortalized in author Michael Craig’s book The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King. Harman was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame for all her achievements in 2018. 

Harman is also a determined philanthropist and activist. She actively supports and donates to various animal rights organizations and has even founded her own nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness for organ donation.

Early Life

Jennifer Harman was born in Reno, Nevada, on November 29, 1964. She was first introduced to poker by watching her father play in his weekly poker nights. After much persuasion, Harman convinced her father to teach her the game. She quickly realized a natural talent, and soon, the student became the master as she gave her father advice. At just 17, Harman’s mother passed away from kidney failure. They were very close amd the loss was devastating. Harman turned to poker as a distraction, frequently playing at casinos while underage using a fake ID. Surprisingly, she was never caught.  After high school, Harman pursued a degree in Biology at the University of Nevada. During her school years, she juggled a part-time job as a waitress and her poker hobby. While she was talented academically, she decided to become a professional poker player instead of pursuing a typical career.

Poker Career

Harman began joining poker tournaments in 1994, scoring wins in small tournaments around Vegas like the 1998 Orleans Open and 1998 Heavenly Hold’em. Her WSOP debut was in 1996, cashing in twice at No Limit Holdem and Pot Limit Holdem events.  Harman’s breakthrough year happened in 2000 when she won the $5,000 + 100 No Limit Deuce to Seven Draw event for $146,250. The most surprising thing about this win was her total lack of experience. Harman had never even played Deuce to Seven Draw before, so she received five minutes of coaching and a recommended hands sheet from Howard Lederer right before going into the tournament. Harman’s next bracelet and big score came in 2002 when she won the $5,000 Limit Hold’em event for $212,440. Then, in 2004, Harman finished fourth in the $15,000 World Poker Tour Championship – No Limit Hold’em event for $299,492. A year later, she finished second in the Rio Las Vegas Poker Festival for $383,840, the largest cash of her career.  In 2007, Harman won the $20,000 Week 8 – Killer Table event of Poker After Dark for $120,000. A few months earlier, she had finished fifth in the $20,000 Week 5 – Phil Phil event.  A year later, Harman made her second appearance at the WPT final table by finishing third at the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star, San Jose. She earned $330,000 for her efforts.

Making the World a Better Place

Outside of poker, Harman is a dedicated activist and philanthropist. She regularly uses her winnings to support groups like the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA), helping them raise millions of dollars for animal rights. 

As a child, Harman suffered from kidney issues, just like her mother. She received a transplant at a very early age, which in part led her to the philosophy of appreciating life by living every day to the fullest instead of focusing on the future.

Harman had a second kidney transplant as an adult. She took a break from poker in 2004; after her successful recovery, she founded the Creating Organ Donor Awareness (CODA) charity. She’s also hosted charity poker tournaments for the National Kidney Organization.