Beth Hall, 59, is known for her roles in the CBS sitcom Mom and the AMC drama Mad Men — but acting isn't her only love. She explains to AARP about her passion for poker and what she hopes is the next highlight of her career.
In the chips
Nearly 10,000 people entered the Southern California Poker Championships last year, and I was the only woman who made it to the final day. I came in 14th — my proudest moment of tournament poker so far! No woman has ever won the main World Series of Poker championship in Vegas. I’d love to be the first one.
It all started when I was a young girl at my Aunt Shirley’s dining room table. It was all women — everyone was so funny and helpful. By college, I was the only female who played in the boys’ poker game in our coed dorm. I can play for 24 hours straight. In fact, I have. Everything else goes out of your head.
With poker, you don’t really need to get lucky. You just don’t want to get unlucky. With bad luck, it’s possible to make all the right decisions and still lose. It’s the same in life. Life is all about making decisions and dealing with the consequences. Once in a while, you’re thrown a curveball. How you deal with that is what determines how content you are. Sometimes you just have to stand up from the table, say “Good game,” and move on.
Beth's tips for the tables
1. Know when to fold ’em.
Newbie players don’t fold enough, because they want to stay in the game. Let Kenny Rogers be your guide.
2. Spot the tells.
Shaking hands, changed breathing patterns, shrugs and sighs can all be signs someone is bluffing — or holding a killer hand.
3. Don’t gloat.
“When you win a big pot, that usually means someone lost a big pot,” she says. “It drives me crazy when people yell ‘Send it!’ after a win.”