Meet Our Instructors
"I’ve had people come back to me a year later, saying, ‘Wow, you said something that changed my game, that really made a difference.’ That’s where the satisfaction comes in."
- Over $6 million in tournament winnings
- World Series of Poker bracelet winner
- Six WPT Main Event final tables
A 100% Commitment
Born in Tennessee and raised on Long Island, Kathy attended Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where she graduated with a degree in business and finance. She went on to work as a business analyst for the prestigious firm of Dunn & Bradstreet, and she continues to be a successful investor in the stock market. She was dissatisfied with the job, however, and so she took the advice of her mother, who encouraged her to do something she loved.
Eventually, Kathy ended up in Colorado, attracted by the prospect of skiing in the Rockies. Two small mountain communities, Central City and Blackhawk, had just legalized gambling, so Kathy began playing $5-limit poker. She soon became a prop player and began an intense study of the game.
“I had to either get good at poker or lose all my money,” she says. “So I guess I did one of those!”
Kathy approached poker with an intensity that soon became all-absorbing. “When I started out playing, I would read books, I would study, I would think about the game all the time,” she recalls. “It was the biggest thing in my life. I put 100% into trying to become better at poker.”
Kathy got plenty of attention when she burst onto the tournament scene in 1994. She immediately caught the eye of Las Vegas’ tightly knit poker community, who wondered how this 27-year-old woman they’d never heard of could suddenly run over so many final tables. Under the short-lived nickname “Colorado Kate”, Kathy chopped two tournaments at the Gold Coast Open, first in Omaha, then in Hold’em. In what was essentially her first serious week of tournament play, she won $34,000—and launched her tournament career.
The years that followed saw one triumph after another: the bracelet, the cashes, the final tables. Kathy (now nicknamed “Poker Kat”) took risks at the table, making gutsy moves and fearlessly employing aggression. But away from the table, she was careful, disciplined, and extremely mindful of her bankroll. For Kathy, being a strong competitor and maintaining financial discipline have always gone together.
In fact, for Kathy, competition plus money equals poker. She loves poker because “You get to measure yourself against other people—and you get to make money while you’re doing it. It’s a fun game, and an interesting game. And it can also be very profitable!”
One of Kathy’s most profitable tournaments was also one of her most memorable: winning the Party Poker Million. “That meant a lot to me at that time,” Kathy says. “I’d gotten a couple second places recently, and I realized that this time, I really wanted to take first. I did work very hard heads-up. I was up and down, and I didn’t give up.
“There was a huge audience there. That was one of the first tournaments on TV—it was before the WPT started. In fact, it later became a fixture on the World Poker Tour. And they gave you that oversized check in front of everybody, and it was a little overwhelming, but at the same time, it felt like quite an accomplishment to actually win that one.”
Fun at the Table…and in the Classroom
Although Kathy’s poker style can be quiet, businesslike, and classically poker-faced, she can also be friendly, talkative, even exuberant.
Maybe it’s because she just loves playing poker. “I think part of it is the challenge, and the testing yourself, and the competitiveness of it,” she explains. “As a game, it’s very dynamic. You can always learn something new—it’s not like once you’ve mastered it, you’ve completely mastered it: it’s always changing. So you never stop learning.”
Teaching, she says, just makes her game better.
“I think you actually learn by communicating with other people, by being able to express yourself. When you have to think about your game and express your strategy to somebody else, you learn at the same time and it improves your own ability to play."
“Sometimes you don’t necessarily have a game strategy firmly laid out, you’re kind of just doing what feels right. But when you have to express your strategy to somebody, then you have to become clearer on why you’re doing it, and it actually helps clarify the process for yourself as well as for the people you’re explaining it to.”
Not surprisingly, then, Kathy’s goal for her teaching is to get her students thinking strategically.
“Poker is the kind of game for which there’s no exact answer, there’s no exact science,” she says. “A lot of it is dependent on the situation. So I don’t think you can teach poker by telling people exactly what to do. You can just give them the tools to work with to make good decisions and show them what’s important to think about.”
For Kathy, the greatest satisfaction in teaching comes from watching her students “get it”.
“When somebody who really didn’t understand at all starts playing better and making better decisions and thinking about the game correctly, that’s great,” she says. “Especially when they come up to you later and say, ‘Wow, I’ve improved,’ or ‘I haven’t thought of it this way before.’"
“I’ve had people come back to me a year later, saying, ‘Wow, you said something that changed my game, that really made a difference.’ That’s where the satisfaction comes in.”