The Jerney family’s campaign to conquer the EPT

November 01, 2010


by Mad Harper

Kati Jerney first hit the international limelight in Season 5 with a heroically deep run at the European Poker Tour tournament in San Remo, Italy. She was the last woman standing, or rather sitting, at the €5,300 event and eventually finished 15th for €30,850.

Here at EPT Vienna, Kati busted on Day 1 but a cursory glance down the player list revealed several other Jerneys still in contention. My curiosity was piqued. Who were all these Jerneys?

Halfway through Day 2 the mystery was solved when I spotted Kati again–elegantly dressed as always, this time in a stylishly-cut black wool dress and railing a distinguished-looking player in his sixties. This turned out to be her husband Adam, who was busy putting up a valiant attempt to make the money at EPT Vienna.

A chat with Kati revealed the story of a remarkable poker-playing family. All the Jerneys play poker–that’s Kati, her husband Adam, her step-sons John and David, and her two daughters from an earlier marriage, Kati and Suzie. There is even an 84-year-old great-aunt in the family called Alicy who is a PokerStars regular and loves to play online.

The fact that all the Jerneys play poker is not what marks them out as special however. Obviously lots of families all over the world play poker together–around the kitchen table, during family get-togethers and so on. What makes the Jerneys unusual is that they all play poker together at a very high level. EPTs are known to be some of the toughest tournaments on the planet, but here in Vienna, four of the family were competing in the €5,300 Main Event.

Not only that, but the Jerneys deliberately use EPTs and other international tournaments as a vehicle for family reunions. Kati and Adam live in Budapest; and sons John and David live in Los Angeles, but at least once a year all four of them will meet up at a major tournament to take part and hang out with each other.


Adam, 67, is the family member with the best live results so far. The former president of a major pharmaceuticals company, he has been playing poker for around 15 years and has been runner-up at two final tables in the stunning casino in Baden. He is Hungarian by birth, but lived in the States for many years. And his two sons still live in Los Angeles where they run a beauty salon equipment company together.

Kati met Adam once he moved back to Budapest after his retirement eight years ago. She had originally learned to play poker some 30 years ago while training to be a teacher at Budapest University. Back in those days, the game was 7-Card Stud, but when she met Adam in 2002, he introduced her to Texas Hold’em and got her back into playing.

Meanwhile, Kati’s two daughters from her first marriage have also taken to poker, although Kati and Suzie mainly confine themselves to playing home games.

Kati, now 62, played her first live tournament in Baden five years ago and was thrilled to finish in tenth place. Her 15th place finish at EPT San Remo was a tour de force. A total of 1,178 players entered the event making it–at the time–the biggest EPT ever held. Kati outlasted hundreds of the world’s top pros to reach the last two tables, but was eventually knocked out by PCA High Roller champion William Reynolds in 15th place.

Here in Vienna, her step-son David, 30, was full of praise for the way she plays. He said: “Kati is really good. She’s very sharp and she can read people really well. Dad has the best results, but Kati is a great player too.”

Vienna is a regular stop for the Jerneys as it’s close to Budapest, and they love the city, but the family has also met up at tournaments all over the world, including Las Vegas. Kati said: “Playing poker is a great hobby for us and I would certainly recommend it for people of our age. We love travelling, and we play lots of tournaments, around Europe, in Barcelona, Prague, Baden, Vienna as well as Las Vegas . . . all over the place really. ”

In the EPT Vienna Main Event, Kati busted on Day 1, while David and John busted early on Day 2, but dad Adam seemed set for a deep run until his KK ran into Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu’s TT. All the money went in pre-flop but Negreanu hit a set on the river, eliminating Adam and another player who had 44.

With all Jerneys now out of the EPT Vienna Main Event, that’s the end of the family’s Austrian adventure, but it’s not the end of their holiday. Next week Kati, Adam and the rest of the family–including sons, daughters, two cousins and the 84-year-old aunt are all going on holiday together to Egypt. Will they be playing poker? Yes, they most certainly will.


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