Kristen Bicknell Battling for Respect at partypoker LIVE Barcelona
Kristen Bicknell has two World Series of Poker bracelets to her name from the 2013 Ladies Event and the $1,500 No Limit Hold'em Bounty (Event #46) in 2016. Originally from St. Catharines, the 31-year-old partypoker-sponsored pro now lives in Toronto and should definitely be considered a shark in a big ocean when it comes to poker.
More than $1.7 million in cashes on the live circuit speaks for itself and Bicknell also has millions over millions of hands on the virtual felt to her name as well. The last few months especially have been quite impressive with one deep run after another.
"As a girl in poker, I know I am going to get criticized, but who cares? I am just going to do my best.”
Four cashes at the 2017 WSOPE, a victory in a $5,300 Side Event at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in December 2017 and five cashes at the 2018 Aussie Millions were accompanied by a 10th-place finish in the partypoker-sponsored Latin American Poker Championship in Punta del Este for $9,000. But the best was yet to come.
Bicknell traveled to Macau for the first time, along with her boyfriend and rising American poker star Alex Foxen, and both made the headlines. The Canadian earned her second-biggest score (HK$2,192,000 ~ $279,549) and another final table appearance just one week later. Remarkably, both Bicknell and Foxen won their High Roller events in Macau with ace-six, proving the idiom “Lucky at cards, unlucky in love,” wrong.
Now, Bicknell and Foxen are back in action in the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona €10,300 Main Event, and unsurprisingly, both have found a bag for Day 2 Friday. Bicknell bagged 1.22 million on Day 1a and Foxen finished 1c with 5.215 million.
PokerNews caught up with Bicknell, who talked about her recent live poker momentum, Foxen's role in it, and shared insights into the life of a female poker pro in general.
Lucky in Poker, and Love
Bicknell talked about the couple's strong start in the Grand Final Barcelona series, representative of their strong start in general.
"We just came off final tabling the 25K High Roller final table together, and on our last poker trip to Macau in the first event, while I was winning the event, he was chip leader in the next event and ended up winning the Super High Roller there. Since we started dating, we have a lot of run good. I know that he is really good and really supportive of me and I feel that he is a very positive influence on my game, and mentally. We have both taken things of each other's games and have helped each other, being happy, having someone to travel with and being there. Even while I am playing the tournament, we are writing all the time and it feels like we are playing together."
"One thing I have taken from Alex is the strongest part of his game, and that is confidence, his fearlessness."
As mentioned by the Canadian, the record-breaking partypoker LIVE MILLIONS Barcelona festival with €23,000,000 in guaranteed prize pools kicked off nicely for both as well. In the first of two €25,500 Super High Rollers, which attracted a field of 88 entries, Bicknell and Foxen both reached the final table and cashed for €60,000 and €90,000 respectively.
Confidence can play a major role in poker and the awareness of Bicknell has increased thanks to the relationship. "One thing I have taken from Alex is the strongest part of his game, and that is confidence, his fearlessness. In poker it is easy to feel intimidated, that you are not the best, especially when sitting down with players that are better with solvers. But it's important to realize that's just one part of the game and I have my strengths, too. Learning to be confident with what you have and understanding that everyone has weaknesses, everyone has strengths. When you feel confident in your game, and in your decision making, that's when you play your best poker."
On Being a Woman in Poker
It can be quite intimidating for some women to play live tournaments when sitting at a table with eight guys, some of whom often try to bully the table, and especially any woman seated at the table. Bicknell has her very own point of view about that.
“That's one thing I really like about being a girl in poker - that dynamic. It's fun because it's different for each player. I am a pretty aggressive player, and it feels like I can mess with their mind more than they can mess with mine sometimes and I love playing against men who think they can push me around. It's fun and usually I am aware of that and have the better side of it.”
"I love playing against men who think they can push me around."
With confidence at an all-time high after her recent results, Bicknell pointed that out as a key factor. “The confidence thing in poker as a girl, there is a spotlight on you. I can do something that looks like a mistake and they are going to attack me for that. If I was a player that earned respect, with results, people like Adrian Mateos, what he did was perfect because it's him. But as a girl, I am always battling for that respect.”
Bicknell has more than earned her merits on the virtual felt as well as the live poker tables, and a certain mindset is required to emerge victorious. “Something I had to see and realize is not to listen to that noise and don't care about that criticism. One thing that I changed in my game recently is not feeling scared to make mistakes, because I know I have that spotlight on me. Instead, I am embracing my game and channeling into what I want to do for multiple reasons. I just want to go with it now; you can't be afraid of what people are going to think and say. As a girl in poker, I know I am going to get criticized, but who cares? (laughs) I am just going to do my best.”
With two bracelets to her name and the High Roller victory, what actually matters more as a poker player, the trophy or the money?
"I do feel driven as probably one of the few female players to play in the High Roller that I really want to represent women in poker."
“I think the respect part is probably both, and the respect should come with consistency. For me, the money is important, but the titles are really important. With tournament poker, you start to get such a competitive drive behind you in. The more that I play tournament poker, the more competitive I have gotten, and there is an aspect for me that I do feel driven as probably one of the few female players to play in the High Roller that I really want to represent women in poker. And hope to inspire women in poker to do that, to show that women belong at the poker tables, too. Even in the High Rollers. And I get a lot of satisfaction by competing with the best in the world.”
Bicknell received the Female Player of the Year award by the Global Poker Index in 2017 and with her appearances on the TV tables, the awareness has increased for the partypoker pro.
“I have gotten some messages, and I got some really nice words. Because I feel I was just under the radar in poker and didn't really talk to many people for many years, just playing online. I do feel in the last few months after being on Poker After Dark and getting some coverage from that, and winning the GPI award, I have gotten messages from women that have been really nice, that I inspire them. And getting those really inspires me to keep doing what I am doing.”