HotChips on Fire!: The Tiffany Michelle Interview

Tiffany Michelle is the only woman remaining in the tournament and she's got a bunch of chips as well. With only 35 players left, she has a real shot at doing what no other woman has ever done - winning the Main Event. walked with her to Starbucks during the dinner break on Day 6 of the Main Event to see what she is all about.

Tell me a little bit of how you got started in the poker world and what got you here today.

I was a big gaming/competitive type person growing up. I [remember learning] how to play poker with my brother and grandpa [when I was really little]. We actually used to get in trouble when we would go play with the chips and stuff because my mother was against gambling.

About three and a half or four years ago I started playing cash games in Hollywood with a bunch of actor friends. I started cleaning up and of course they kept inviting me back because they liked having a girl at the table. I'd say for a year I played in Hollywood cash games.

That's when I really sat down and started observing the game and figuring people out. Then [after] I turned 21 I won the first Vegas tourney at Harrah's that I played. That's when I figured out I had a really good edge at tournaments.

In 2006 I was one of the roving reporters for Bluff coverage on Sirius Satellite Radio. That was my first year at the Series. It was after that when PokerNews approached me about being their on-camera hostess. For a few years I've been traveling with them and hosting stuff, and of course playing at the same time. Most of the people only know me as the hostess for PokerNews but in the meantime I played a lot online. I play in L.A., a lot of tournaments. Obviously not on the $10k level like everyone else does but, yeah!

How many chips do you have now?

Seven million.

That sounds pretty good.

It's a good-sounding number [laughs] and it's above average. I can't complain.

Was it difficult getting to this point?

Honestly it's been easy and hard. I've had this spike. The first four days I was never ahead of average. I had a bad beat Day 2. It's been such a grind and I've had to play short so many times! This is the first time I've had a comfortable lead. It's been hard in the sense that I've played really patient, diligent poker, but it's been easy in the sense that there's a lot of bad players. If you just play disciplined - it's not really rocket science. You just have to play patiently and avoid bad beats and here you are!

Have you had a plan you've been following or have you just been freestylin' it?

I've never had a plan. Each day I come in and I'm like "OK; I'm going to sit down at a poker table today and I just need to do well." That's been my strategy every day.

Like right now with the money it's getting a little more fun because I'm getting to play a little more. I'm getting to apply some pressure because at this point people really, really, really care.

So right now there is a little more play involved but I just focus on that table at that time and really try not to get ahead of myself. Then I just move on to the next table, and the next table, and the next table!

No woman has ever won the Main Event, and now a young, cute girl has a chance to do it. What do you think you winning would do for poker?

I think if I final-tabled it would be good for poker. I think right now poker needs a boost. With all the Internet stuff that's going on, I think it would be a really good boost to bring another component out.

Over the last few years we've seen the Internet wave; I would love to see the "chicks" wave. I'm already giving it some thought; if that happened, you would be immortal.

You've already made $190,000 and the money is only going to get bigger. What are your plans for your winnings?

I told Amanda Leatherman that if I made over a hundred grand - keep in mind I don't have 100% of myself - but I told her we would go on a cruise. I guess that has to be done! I don't know. At this point I'm waiting to see where I fall before I plan on what to do. After the Main I go back to L.A. and I have an audition on Tuesday.

An audition? For what?

A movie, an independent film that we've putting off, and putting off, and putting off because I keep going deeper. Fortunately the director is a big poker fan and obviously he doesn't care. He's really excited. I don't know, depending on how things go, and how well things go, I might have to rethink it.

You might have to hit the tournament trail!

You know, that's what I've always wanted to do. I've sat through World Series for the last couple of years and I've always known my play is on par with all these guys. I just wanted the opportunity. You know I go to these tournaments and report on them and do all these things and I'm always like "Man, if I only had the chance." I just knew that if I had the chance I could do well. Obviously the trail would be awesome.

* * * * * * * * * * *

With that we had reached our destination and it was time for Tiffany to get her caffeine fix. Very affable, Michelle is also highly confident and, looking at the winners over the last couple of years, she might just be the breath of fresh air that poker needs.

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