PokerStars Championship Panama: Bicknell's race to the top
In order to go fast, you need to know when to go slow.
It's just as true now for Kristen Bicknell as it was when she raced go karts as a teenager. As the daughter of a race car builder, Bicknell grew up surrounded by racing.
"I love racing," Bicknell said. "It's such an adrenaline rush and it was so fun. I remember I'd come home after a night of racing and just be so pumped up for hours."
While Bicknell wouldn't develop her love of racing into a career, it did set her up with a strong set of skills that translated well to professional poker. Not only did Bicknell learn how to compete, she learned how to do so in a field dominated by men.
"I do feel comfortable in a male dominated industry and I think that's kind of related to racing because I was always racing against boys," Bicknell said. "So I was like a 10-year-old girl surrounded by all these boys and competing against them."
Now Bicknell's a 30-year-old woman going head-to-head against the world's best poker players and winning. Bicknell won her second World Series of Poker Bracelet last year and earned $290,768 in the process. That was just a few months after the former Supernova Elite decided to dedicate more time to tournaments instead of cash games. Bicknell's gone full speed ahead ever since.
"I just caught the tournament bug," Bicknell said. "I really like the competitiveness. You can really get to that goal, to first place. It's intense."
Since her bracelet win, Bicknell has made two more major final tables and played tournaments in three different continents. She won the $1,100 Win the Button Turbo event here last week and was the only woman to take a stab at the $10,000 High Roller.
"It's definitely much, much tougher," Bicknell said. "But it's still poker and even though there are amazing poker players here, everybody still just has two cards."
Bicknell's a self-described adrenaline junkie, but she says she disconnects herself from the size of the buy-in. What's most important is playing well and getting experience. While she wouldn't mind adding a high roller victory to her resume, Bicknell says she mostly wants to learn from this event.
"I'm just playing in this event because I'm trying to get more experience and push myself a little bit harder and it kind of forces you to be better," Bicknell said. "I think poker is so fun and addicting because you never fully learn the game.
"I'm really just huge fan. Even when poker's going bad, I'm still into it and I think that's what's kept me around for a long time."
Bicknell's been playing poker for more than a decade and will keep doing it for as long as she can. Bicknell plans on heading PokerStars Championship Macau after here and keep travelling the circuit all year.
After that, she'll slow down to evaluate her year and decide whether to keep going full speed ahead.
"You have to know how to slow down in poker," Bicknell said. "I think it's important, when I don't, that's when I get in trouble."
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Alexander Villegas is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.