The Blogfiles: Jen Leo Live!


Intro: Jen Leo is, without a doubt, our favorite female poker blogger.  Granted, it’s not like there’s a ton of competition in that market, but even if there was, she’d still be our favorite.  Cause she can fucking write. She’s like the Mia Hamm of writing. In that Mia Hamm is like the best female soccer player of our generation, and Jen is a damn witty, funny, intelligent writer…and a girl. We like her so much we’ve even put her pink header graphic at the top of this post. Yes, a big bright pink header, on WCP. But this isn’t about us. It’s about Jen.  Maybe you’ve seen her stuff in BLUFF, Woman Poker Player (it’s a magazine for women…who play poker), TIME, and Playboy. She’s also got a book in the works. The girl has got talent. Which is great. Cause we respect women. We respect their minds. We respect what they have to say. Lots. For real.

WCP: So…what are you wearing?

JL: I am wearing a short, lavender bathrobe, nothing underneath.

WCP: Hot. Alright. You’re a quote unquote writer. So what the hell got you into poker? Shouldn’t you be at a coffee shop typing away on your Mac wearing Moby-esque eye-glasses?

Jen_leo_pauly JL: I’ve been in the travel book publishing biz for ten years. But the Chinese side of my family has insured that I’ve had gambling in my blood for longer than that. My grandfather taught me how to play craps, and then proceeded to take me to Vegas several times a year after I was 21. After a while, I wanted to write about my gambling experiences but didn’t quite know how to go about it. So, on one trip to the desert I went to the Gamblers Bookstore and got the grand tour from Howard Schwartz. I asked him to set me up with books that I could learn from. One of the ones he suggested was Anthony Holden’s Big Deal. After I read and raved about that one, a friend recommended Positively Fifth Streetby James McManus.

That’s all it took. Two books. I was hooked and just had to see the World Series of Poker. So, knowing very little about the game, but knowing how to get a few writing gigs, I packed my things in San Francisco and moved to Vegas for the summer. That was just last year. Now, I’m hooked the whole way around. On tournaments, and playing in our home game, and online.

But yes, if I were a kept woman and could say no to the ever present marketing ideas that take over my brain and lead me to busyness, I’d love to sit and write romantic comedy scripts at a coffee shop. It’s the adult version of a teenager’s bad love poetry.

WCP: How much leverage do you get out of telling people, "Yeah, I’ve been in Playboy…"

JL: That’s funny. But still a lame question.

Jen_leo_dancingWCP: You just turned 35. Lots of people attach certain milestones or "I wish I had accomplished this this and this" to numbers like 35. Chops cried myself asleep in my shower when I turned 30, for example. You don’t even wanna know what Snake did. And the trail of bodies the Addict left in the wake of turning 35 is still keeping South Dakota police busy. So does turning 35 have any signficance to you?

JL: I used to think 35 was old. Now I don‚Äôt. Simple as that. Actually, I feel good about this birthday because so many great things have happened in the past year. I feel like I’m finally coming into my own. There were a few years there, despite success with my books, where I was still looking for what I wanted to do, where I wanted to live, who I was going to settle down with. But this past year I’ve been run over with all those answers like a bad Gran Turismo driver. But that’s too mushy. Ask me something daring.

WCP: What’s the best writing assignment you’ve ever had?

JL: The most exciting assignment was when TIME asked me to write for them. Just travel trend blurbs, but that’s the kind of byline that gets your grandma to buy a subscription. I was also excited when Student Traveler gave me a free Eurail ticket and told me to have at it. And then of course I was pretty dern excited when I got to write up Phil Gordon’s Expert Insight DVD for Playboy. All of that seems small potatoes, but they came at the right time.

Also, I’m super-proud of this line of travel humor books I’ve been doing. The latest is just hitting bookstores now and has a story from our fave 6-9 guy Phil Gordon. The official title of the website is, but it’s operating on this url till admin:

WCP: Tell us about the PokerDome

JL: Yeah, I’m excited about the PokerDome coming soon to Fremont Street. It’s being done by the new online room Mansion Poker in conjunction with FSN. Speed poker where a small group of people can watch. No one at the table can see or hear the audience, but the crowd gets to see all the cards and hear all the action. There is a corresponding TV show to go with it and will run for 43 weeks. Mansion is even giving away seats via 1cent tourneys online. You should try and get on so you can represent.

WCP: Why are so many writers, and particularly bloggers, complete narcissists?

JL: Hey, hey, now. Watch it, my inner ego just might hear you. Blogging is self publishing, so by nature, blogs that are used as personal journals are going to be about the author. But there are many great community blogs and service oriented blogs. It just so happens that most poker blogs are either about the author’s play or trip reports. I started, my blog for travel writers, as a resource‚Ķso it’s only half "all about me."

Rotkt025WCP: Let’s flip the script here…we usually post blogfilers favorite girls w/ their file. Who is in your top 5? Here’s where I guess I’ll be posting a shirtless Brad Pitt type on the site…

JL: If we’re talking about the top five that Friends made famous, you know, The List, then I’d have to say Clive Owen, George Clooney, Jimmy Smits, Blair Underwood, Russell Crowe.

WCP: What’s the pitch for the book you were born to write?

Already working on it. Already have an agent interested in it‚Äî The Girlfriend’s Guide to Dating a Poker Player. A snarky piss take on how to snag a poker player and what to do with him once you get him. And of course, riddled with anecdotes from real women (and men!)

WCP: We’ve often said that poker is color blind. But it’s not gender-blind yet. What’s the hardest thing about being a female who plays poker?

CowbellbrownJL: Sharing the table with other women.

WCP: What t-shirt would you most likely buy off this site:

JL: More Cowbell!

WCP: Which of the following do you have the hardest time understanding why people like so much: Atlas Shrugged, Donnie Darko, or Desperate Housewives?

JL: Atlas who? Sorry, I haven’t read any Ayn Rand. How dare you expose my ignorance. I hate you. Where’s that shirt?

WCP: What’s the greatest thing since sliced bread?

JL: Shrimp tacos in Baja.

WCP: Do writers who use PCs lose their street cred?

JL: Absolutely! I’ve been a Mac girl since the LC. And I wish I could say it was since the Apple IIe. But the iPod has built the neuvo Mac crowd, so now you can just buy your way into being cool.


WCP: Many of our readers may be upset to find out you’re spoken for. Tell us a little about your man…

JL: Yeah, if you put it that way‚Ķ.maybe we should just see who might be interested. No. I couldn’t. But seriously, I’ve always been that tomgirl who drinks beer out of a bottle and gets along better with men than women. Smiles at everybody, but most guy’s second girl‚Äîor their secret wish. The years slip by while your heart tells you to go after the ones that aren’t good to you, and then, Shazam! You move to Vegas to watch the World Series of Poker (2005), and meet a great guy who adores (and respects) you. That’s me, and he’s John Caldwell, We met last year at the Bellagio 25k on my first day in Vegas. Worked together through the series. And then started kissing towards the end. He’s great. A guy’s guy and a friends pleaser. Treats me like a queen, but still wears the pants. People who knew me said I was always looking for a guy who would go to Vegas at the drop of a hat. And I never found him. Now, I’ve got a guy who tells me we have to go to Vegas‚Äîtomorrow! I’d been to Glitter Gulch dozens of times before I met John, but he was the first one to take me downtown.

WCP: Whose biography would you most want to write? Why?

JL: Mine. I’m thoroughly-self involved. Oh, were you serious? It would have to be someone who’s a slam dunk sales wise, but also interesting enough to hold my attention. Popular, but not historic. Someone I know well enough that I wouldn’t have to work too terribly hard, but with enough curb appeal that it would make doing the work worth it. Dan Buczaczer. He’s my best friend from high school and a rising star in the big advertising viral marketing sector. He’s been at StarcomIP, a Leo Burnett division, and was handpicked to be a part of Denuo, a boutique consulting group for Publicis. He’s innovative, dedicated, and I have no doubt that in the next ten years he’s going to lead some giant American corps into marketing righteousness. What’s a biography without a little pre-marriage dating dirt?

WCP: Who do you see being Phil Gordon’s greatest competition for the presidential nod in ’08? Hilary? If so, can he take her?

Gordonforpres3_2’08 might be the year of the comebacks. So, Phil for Prez could be up against McCain, Perot, Dean, and George McGovern if not Al Gore. If Hillary is his biggest worry, I think it’ll be tough. He’ll obviously level her in a looks contest as well as in a debate, but she has a fair bit more political experience under her belt. I’d love it if he took over California or Nevada and added some West Coast stripes to his ranks before taking on the presidency. But he’s smart enough to have a serious long term plan, and I think he will do well in politics. Who knows, maybe he’s already thinking along those lines‚ĶEither way, I’ve got my PR hat on and am ready to lead some grassroots efforts for the upcoming DVD‚ÄîExpert Insight: The White House.

WCP: Eventually, poker will jump the shark. In your mind, how will it happen/what event will transpire to cause the shark jumping?

JL: When Mike Paulle replaces Phil Hellmuth Jr. as the analyst on Celebrity Poker Showdown.

WCP: Dream six-person table, can be living, dead, fictitious…

JL: Ok, Matt Damon, Ed Norton, George Clooney, Phil for Prez, Rafe Furst, and me. But wait. I need my cohort Rolf Potts in there. Who to get rid of? Damn, sorry Rafe.

John will make me pay for this. Not making my table—twice!

WCP: Thanks Jen.  If you’re a WCP and not catching up on Jen regularly, check out her site…regularly.  She’s a true WCP fave. 


13 Responses

  1. Mrs. B

    June 12, 2006 10:41 pm, Reply

    So glad that someone recognizes Jen’s brilliance, appreciates her wit, and fawns over her like she deserves. Great interview. Reinforces my opinion that she is the best!

  2. BJ Nemeth

    June 12, 2006 10:57 pm, Reply

    Wait a second — we got the photo of Jen’s infamous “Dance with the Loser at Doyle Brunson’s Party” Bet, but not the story behind it? A few of us in the poker media paid Jen $50 to dance with that guy. And boy, did she DANCE!
    I wish Jen Leo weren’t so busy, so she could spent more time as my career/life counselor.

  3. snake

    June 13, 2006 6:04 am, Reply

    Thanks BJ for the story behind the pic. Jen wrote a little more about it at JenLeoLIVE!. It’s a funny story…. reminds me of the time I was dancing with that girl at the Doyle Brunson appreciation party….

  4. Jen Leo

    June 13, 2006 7:13 am, Reply

    All I can say, besdies uber thanks, is that these guys gush without having met the real deal. Wait till we have some drinks and play a little Pai Gow! Or Craps!
    And special thanks to BJ for taking the picture, digging it up, and letting us use it. That night really tied the room together.

  5. Jack

    June 13, 2006 9:43 pm, Reply

    Good question Rolf.
    When ‘Poker Bloggers’ start calling themselves the ‘Poker Media” that’s usually a good sign.

  6. BJ Nemeth

    June 13, 2006 11:48 pm, Reply

    I’d like to think that covering every major poker tournament for a year (along with every WSOP final table for six straight weeks) qualifies me for belonging to SOME type of media.
    And the follow-up question is this: If WE weren’t the poker media, who was? The five of us that paid Jen in that bet were covering the WSOP for Card Player, FoxSports, PokerNews, PokerPages, and Pokerwire. Even individually, we were providing far more information than Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press, and ESPN.

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