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Taking risks is something every poker players must do. It’s a part of the game and the life of a player. While Kristen Bicknell has had to make numerous adjustments in her poker life as circumstances and the industry itself change, the risks she has taken have paid off so far.

Kristen Bicknell

Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal

Bicknell picked up her second World Series of Poker bracelet this summer in Las Vegas. She won her first in 2013 in the WSOP Ladies Championship, when she collected $173,922 to go with the gold. This year, she won an open event, the WSOP $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Bounty tournament, for $290,768 in cash and a second piece of WSOP jewelry. It should be noted – for the superstitious, including Bicknell herself – that both victories happened on June 30.

Before the age of 30, the Canadian woman has already accomplished quite a few poker goals. In addition to winning the bracelets, she has become a successful online and live cash game player, achieved Supernova Elite status on PokerStars, and collected more than $500K in live tournaments alone. While she is very close to obtaining a university degree in criminology and wanting to also study nutrition and health, those goals are on a temporary hold.

And it is not difficult to put those dreams in the back of her mind as she strolls along the streets of Barcelona with boyfriend Manig Loeser between tournaments and cash games at the EPT Barcelona festival. Her current poker life involves more traveling than in past years, more tournaments than ever before, more live than online games, and learning to live life more often on the road than at home, as Loeser is mainly a live tournament player.

Changes involve taking risks but being grateful for the rewards. Bicknell is soaking up the benefits of the latter and enjoying everything that the poker life has to offer.

Bicknell spoke to us from Barcelona just before the massive schedule of events got underway last week.

Poker Update:  Now that you’re removed from the WSOP and out of Las Vegas, can you tell me what the victory means to you as you look back on this summer’s bracelet win today?

Kristen Bicknell:  Winning a bracelet this summer still feels totally surreal. It is a pretty amazing feeling to win any poker tournament, not to mention a WSOP bracelet event, which I thought would never happen again!

Poker Update:  Who was on your rail? And did it help to have that support at the final table?

Kristen:  I felt a ton of support at the final table, from near and far. There were a few good friends in Vegas at the time who were able to make it out, and my boyfriend Manig was there and very supportive and helpful. He’s a much better tournament player than I am, so it was nice to be able to run hands by him and have some good advice when I needed it. Having so many people cheering for me also put a good amount of pressure on me to play my best, not to mention all the positive energy I felt, which I believe helped a lot.

Poker Update:  Did you realize at the time that you were about to win a bracelet on the exact same day three years from your first one? Does that mean anything to you, in a superstitious kind of way?

Kristen:  Leanne Haas, the woman who finished second to me in the 2013 Ladies Championship, actually sent me a really nice message as I was approaching the final table to remind me of this. Once it was pointed out, combined with how smoothly the tournament went for me the first two days, it did feel a lot like it was meant to be, and yes, I am definitely superstitious. What poker player isn’t, to some degree?!

Poker Update:  What did it mean to have your parents there for the bracelet ceremony?

Kristen:  It was really nice to have my parents there for the bracelet ceremony. They had never been in Vegas during the WSOP, so it was neat to show them what the Rio is like and see their reactions. It was very exciting for them, and that was fun to see.

Poker Update:  How was the cash game action in Vegas? I understand you *still* prefer cash games to tournaments, even after the two bracelet wins.

Kristen:  Cash games were fun and busy during the WSOP, as always. I do prefer cash games but have to admit, I do have the tournament bug at the moment, though that might change soon enough. On the other spectrum of winning a tournament, I find the disappointment from tournament poker very hard to deal with.

Poker Update:  Now that you’re traveling more with your new partner, how have you had to adjust your game from online to live cash games?

Kristen:  I think the biggest thing adjustment from playing online to playing live is being more patient and getting used to the personal interactions with opponents. I’m probably a bit too sympathetic for poker because I tend to feel a bit bad when people are unlucky against me or when I’m beating people I like at the poker table, but I’m working on getting better at this and trying not to personalize the game. It’s a tough balance for me because I tend to talk a lot and be friendly with people at the table, but then something feels wrong about taking their chips.

Poker Update:  What role did the PokerStars VIP changes play in your change of focus from online to live poker?

Kristen:  The VIP changes on PokerStars did play a substantial role in my decision to focus more on live poker. I really enjoyed the SNE challenge, but once it became more difficult, and now totally not an option, I had to find a different game to focus on. It has been a nice change, though, and even if SNE was an option, I’m not sure how many more times I would go for it anyway. It was a difficult task!

Poker Update:  While at EPT Barcelona, will you mainly focus on cash or play a few tournaments? And will you spend any time doing touristy things?

Kristen:  I’m going to play a mixture of cash games and tournaments. I think this will be the plan for the near future – keep going to live events, play cash games, and try to get another tournament win under my belt. I also want to try to take advantage of travelling a bit more and doing more tourist things when I travel for poker. I’m thinking about doing a blog to document my adventures, so stay tuned for that.

Poker Update:  Lastly, now that you travel more frequently instead of stay in Ontario to play online, can you explain a little about the positives and negatives of YOUR life as a poker pro?

Kristen:  There are definitely pros and cons to playing live versus playing online. I did love the convenience of playing from my home, and I am a homebody at heart, so I do get homesick a bit. Also, I haven’t been able to spend time with my friends back home outside of poker, so that is definitely a con to always travelling. On the other hand, it is an amazing opportunity to see different cities and meet new people, and it is fun to play in bigger live tournaments.

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.