When it comes to the casting of a new reality TV show featuring female poker players Danielle Moon-Andersen would be the first name on most people’s list.
She is bold, brass and ballsy. She has experienced both sides of life. That content, calm and cosy family home, and the electrifying, egocentric and eclectic home of the poker player. Granted, when you have kids, as Danielle does, these sentences often switch places.
When crucial and controversial comments enter her cranium, Danielle prefers cascading rather than containment. It’s confidence. It’s a feeling of acceptance of oneself. It’s perfect fodder for the folks who like to feast on fast food while watching a spot of TV.
In this interview Danielle talks about her involvement in the show, shares her thoughts on the Parisian tragedy, what she would do if given 10,000 spare hours, and much more.
Who is Danielle Moon-Andersen?
I’m an eternal optimist, continual learner, food loving/CrossFit junkie, tennis shoes collecting, karaoke/tequila-loving, book obsessed, tech challenged, gullible, mother, wife, daughter and friend. I love people – most of them.
Not so subtle brag: I asked my son to answer this question, and he responded: “You’re the prettiest, most beautiful, nicest, woman in the world.”
I like his response best.
Discuss the key milestones for you since Ultimate Poker disbanded.
On paper, I wouldn’t say there have been any “key” milestones since Ultimate Poker went under. In my now, relatively boring world, I’d say “finding normalcy” has been a milestone in itself.
Before moving to Vegas, my life involved a ton of travel, weird sleep schedules and far too much time away from my son and husband in an attempt to make a career as a poker player work. Life since moving to Vegas has been calm. I’m embracing and loving the calm. My family and I have settled into a routine that resembles a “normal” family with parents who work 9-5’s. At this exact moment, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Talk about how you were approached to feature in Girl Got Game.
A few years ago, I final tabled a Venetian Ladies event and was 4-handed for FOUR hours with two miserable, angry, older women blessed with horseshoes up their asses, and Katrina Lim, a mid-stakes Commerce grinder I had seen around. We talked on breaks and were hopeful we’d end up heads-up so we could talk a chop.
Unfortunately, the power of the ass horseshoe was too great, and I went out in fourth. Katrina and I kept in touch through the years as we both share a love for fattening food. She used this love to lure me to a meeting where she introduced the idea of a female based, poker reality television show and asked if I’d participate. At first I was skeptical as these sorts of ideas seem to get floated around all the time, but nothing ever comes of them. We continued chatting and she sold me on the idea it would positively spotlight women in poker, would be a ton of fun, and I’d be fed well.
Describe Girl Got Game?
Girl Got Game is a reality television show spotlighting eight, female professional poker players as they compete against one another in an attempt to run up a $10,000 bankroll. The competitive focus will, of course, be on poker, but a series of random, fun challenges will be incorporated to keep everyone on their toes and provide some bankroll boosts. The first round of filming will begin in Macau this February, but the competition will carry over to Vegas and LA this spring and early summer.
Have you been thinking about this from a strategic perspective and without going into too much detail what are the types of ideas that have been floating around your mind?
At this point, I haven’t been thinking too much about the specific strategies as I don’t have all the details for the overall competition set-up. From a very general standpoint, I would have to assume putting a lot of pressure on my opponents will be optimal as I feel pretty comfortable playing deep stacks and only the top-two stacks advance to Season Two.
What aspects of this project excite you?
I’m very excited to be given the opportunity to represent publicly females within the poker community. I think media attention given to female grinders can be a useful tool in attracting more women to the game, and I’m always honored when I have the opportunity to help in that regard. I’m also very excited to have the excuse to travel to Asia, a place that has long been on my bucket list. One of my best high-school friends is currently living in Thailand, so after shooting in Macau I plan to meet up with her and eat my way through the country. I honestly might be more excited about the food than anything.
Same question but from a fear based perspective?
I’ve been around production and seen enough reality TV to know that sometimes, things presented to the public aren’t always as they seem. It’s easy for producers with endless hours of footage to manipulate things to tell the story they think will be most captivating to the audience.
To put yourself out there, and allow someone to tell a part of your story and represent you to the public takes a lot of trust. I’ve of course voiced these concerns and I’ve been reassured by the Girl Got Game team they aren’t out to produce a trashy, drama filled reality show. I believe them, and I believe in the project we’re working on, but there has always, and will always be a healthy apprehension in a mass media project.
How does it feel to be a star in a TV show?
It doesn’t feel like I’m the “star” of a TV show. I would love if Girl Got Game receives a lot of attention, but it doesn’t have anything to do with my personal level of fame or recognition. When I was younger, the sponsorship quest and the notoriety that would accompany it was important to me. For some reason, I felt those things would provide personal validation. I’m now at a point in my life where I’m very content with who I am, and the direction my life is going. I’m happy to be in the public eye as an ambassador, but it’s become about my love for the game, and not my personal ego.
Give your view on the recent events in Paris?
I read a quote from Mr. Rogers that sort of sums up how I feel about the recent Paris attack. He said, “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” There has always been evil, and there will always be evil, but goodness has always and will always overcome. Perhaps that’s a naïve point of view, but it’s one I want, and need, to hold onto.
What’s most discouraging to me about the Paris attack isn’t the attack itself. There are crazy lunatics in the world and sometimes, they do crazy lunatic things. It’s sad, and it sucks, but it’s a reality. It’s most disheartening to me how people, every single one of whom hit the life jackpot when they were born in a developed country, are so quick to use this tragedy as evidence we should turn our back on people in need and to further their unjust prejudice towards those who are different. That’s scarier than the terrorists themselves.
You once said that poker should be like Survivor and every hour you should be able to vote someone off – what are the values and behaviors that would lead to you voting someone off and why?
If I were able to give my vote to a Survivor Tribal Council for the poker table, I’d vote off the assholes first. If you’re verbally abusive to dealers and players, angle shoot, slow-roll, etc. you’re a jerk, and I’m voting you off the island.
Next to go would be the people who think they’re on ESPN every hand. If you wear headphones, hoody, sunglasses at all time, talk to no one and waste time with tanking during insignificant hands, you’re also on my shit list and can get the hell off the island.
Closely following ESPN wannabes are those with poor hygienic habits. If you’re unaware of deodorant, clip your nails at the table, or take off your shoes and rest your feet on the edge of my chair (has happened to me three times), I’m going to need you gone.
Last, but not least I’d vote off everyone better than me. It’s way more fun when you can be the Table Captain and let’s be real; money is nice.
What is the worst example of a betrayal you have suffered and why?
In 5th grade, our school had a big board overlooking the main hallway with the best track and field day achievements for the entire class. I was the fastest girl in my class, closely followed by two of my friends. Being in that awful adolescent stage where cementing “friendships” seems way more important than it was, they hustled me into agreeing to run the mile together and cross the finish line hand in hand, so all three names would be cemented into a year of glory on the board.
About halfway through the mile, I was feeling really good and thought I might be able to break my own personal record time. I asked them for permission to run ahead and promised I’d stop and wait at the finish line for them. Both of them shamed me into having such selfish thoughts. We said we were doing this together! Yay friendship! I chugged along at their pace until, with about 100 yards left on the run, one of them busted out into a sprint. The other snap followed her and both of them, with longer legs and superior sprinting skills, left me in the dust in a mad dash to the finish line.
I had to look at evidence of the betrayal every God damn day as I walked to Social Studies. As you may be able to tell, I’m still not over it. To put salt in the wound, the next year the dreaded boobs and hips showed up for me but those scrawny bitches stayed the same. I never made it to the board.
Which of your qualities would you want in your countries leader and why?
Common sense and morality. These are apparently more difficult to find than one would imagine in a world leader.
What non-monetary thing would you want to obtain in life and why?
Happiness. What else is there?
Which person have you found the most intimidating and why?
I’m not one to easily be intimidated, but I guess I found Vanessa Selbst to be intimidating the first time I met her. She’s just so damn intelligent and intense about seemingly everything. After some sake and friendly conversation, I realized she’s cool shit, and there’s no reason to be scared of her, but the cat had my tongue for a little bit.
What’s the best single piece of advice you have ever received?
“Don’t let a hot date, turn into a due date.” It was printed on a keychain and given to me at my Junior prom.
If you could have 10,000 hours to work on anything, so you could master that thing, what would you choose and why?
I’ve always wanted to learn guitar. I’ve gotten as far in this quest as owning a guitar (twice), and messing around with it, but have yet to pick up any actual skills, mostly due to my laziness and a lack of time. I can carry a halfway decent tune and would love just to be able to pick up some strings and jam out. I imagine it will be part of my middle aged self-therapy. When I get to middle aged which won’t be for many, many, many years obviously.
Give my 14-year old son some advice.
Don’t eat fast food, drink soda or smoke a cigarette. Travel. Take the time and opportunity to meet people who are different than you whenever possible. Listen to them. Be silly sometimes. Laugh at yourself. Spend money on experiences, not things. When you settle down with someone, and don’t do this until at LEAST late 20’s, be with a person you can be completely and utterly honest with. Don’t believe everything you read in the media. Hang out with people smarter than you. Be kind.