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Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Blog, Facing the Firing Squad | 6 comments

Facing the Firing Squad: Jan Fisher






A few weeks ago, hours before most of us were waking up on Christmas morning, Jan Fisher was already dressed and out of the house.

By 6 am, she stood on the same abandoned parking lot pavement she’d been each of the last six years at that time.  Her next three hours were spent out in the cold, with people she didn’t know.

Jan doesn’t tell this story to others.  She doesn’t seek our praise nor want any publicity.  In fact, I heard this story from someone else.

Oh — so where was Jan at 6 am on Christmas morning. not just this past year, but the year before that, and before that, and before that?

She was passing out donations to homeless people in downtown Las Vegas.  But that’s not all.  In the preceding weeks leading up to that morning, she spent considerable time volunteering — gathering clothes and blankets from people who no longer need them and then handing out them to those who desperately needed a very different kind of Christmas gift on a frosty morning.

That’s one of many Jan Fisher stories you probably don’t hear.  There are more.  Many, many more.  Everyone I know seems to have a couple of these stories.

The totality of that selflessness, that giving spirit, that willingness to sacrifice, that obsession to always do what is right is the summation of the remarkable woman I’m proud to call my friend.

Jan has been an integral part of the Las Vegas poker scene for nearly four decades.  Everyone who is anyone knows her — and respects her.  I’ve been lucky to have known Jan for twenty years.  Trust me, that’s a privilege.  During that time, Jan has consistently been a lighthouse of inspiration and a personal profile in courage, not just to myself but to everyone.  In short, she makes us all better people.

Jan Fisher began what would turn into a poker career way back in 1977, when she moved from her native Seattle to Las Vegas.  She wanted to become a poker dealer.  After pitching cards for next 15 years, she played poker semi-professionally and eventually moved into poker room management, where she worked in virtually every facet of cardroom operations.

Jan wrote a popular column called “Poker 101” for Card Player magazine for ten years.  She wrote another column called “Fishing Around” for Poker Player Newspaper.

She has played poker all over the world and was the inaugural champion at the Japanese Poker Open.  Jan has many tournament wins in her resume and has made four final tables at the World Series of Poker.  She mostly enjoys playing mid-stakes Omaha High-Low Split and can be found in the “snake pit” during the WSOP and the Venetian Poker Room, that is when she’s not traveling around the world.

Jan has been a leading activist for the poker industry for years.  Jan has served as Tournament Director for the highly-successful Million events.  In 2001, she co-founded the Tournament Directors Association (TDA) which has worked to standardize poker tournament rules and practices.  She is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) and remains active.  Jan appeared on the Travel Channel as the live studio announcer for the Professional Poker Tour and was the statistician for the World Poker Tour (WPT) during its first six seasons.

Jan has also given poker seminars and lessons at casinos all around the country, where she is a highly-entertaining speaker.  She enjoys teaching poker and has been an instructor for World Poker Tour Boot Camp for years.  She has taught thousands of players how to improve their skills at Card Player Cruises seminars.

Jan also believes in giving back and is involved in many charity projects.  Indeed, as a co-founder of Poker Gives, Jan is realizing a dream of truly making a difference in people’s lives.  In June 2009, she was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame and was its official emcee in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Jan hosts the Eureka Poker Open, which is held a few times each year in Mesquite, NV.  In fact, the next Eureka Poker Open is coming up soon.  She wishes to add, “you’re all invited.”

But Jan’s most endearing quality is her sense of humor, no matter what the situation.  She’s one of the few people that smiles in the face of adversity.  She loves to laugh and even more so — loves making other people laugh.  Jan lives life to the fullest and has been an enduring influence on all those fortunate enough to know her.

Special Note:  This segment was originally to appear immediately after Christmas, but Jan lost her father at that time.  Our deepest sympathies go out to Jan and her family.


What are some of the things you stand for?

Integrity and honesty… honestly!


What are some of the things you stand against?

Bad grammar and stupidity…. bullies and prejudice.


What living person do you admire the most, and why?

Bette Midler, because she has talent!  She can sing, dance, do comedy.  Also she is not only very ecologically minded, she walks the walk and protects the environment.  She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty both literally and figuratively.  She even has adopted freeways and picks up the trash herself!


What historical figure do you admire the most, and why?

Collectively, the Freedom Riders (civil rights workers from the early 1960’s) and everyone who was involved in the civil rights movement.  Martin Luther King for sure.


What living person do you despise?

Nazi party members.  Soon they’ll all be dead.  Unfortunately, there’s a new generation already active.


If money were not an object, what profession would you chose?

Playboy Centerfold.


What is it about yourself that you are most proud of?

My reputation.


What is it about yourself that you’d like to change?

I can be an asshole without intending to be and need to scale back the sarcasm (for those not smart enough to know I’m kidding :)).  I’ve been described as a burnt marshmallow….dark and crusty on the outside but gooey and soft on the inside.  It’s a perfect description of me, too!


What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?

Naked Twister (in the third grade).


What’s the most unusual time and place you’ve ever visited?

The Wailing Wall (Israel) when I was in high school.


Name a place you’ve never visited where you still want to go.

Truk in Micronesia.


Favorite book, favorite movie, and favorite musician.

Does “People Magazine” count?  Dirty Dancing and The Shawshank redemption….and of course, Bette Midler!


What upsets you the most?

Mean people and death.


What bores you?

This interview? 🙂  Long airplane flights (unless I’m in business class or on Jet Blue and have TV!).


Do you believe in an afterlife and why do you believe it so?

No… because it doesn’t exist.


What’s something deeply personal about yourself that others might not know?

I’m very dogmatic and emotional.  Usually these aren’t well timed.  I cry when watching “The Wizard of Oz” and have a hard time hiding my feelings.



  1. Lil’ Giant

  2. Jan is the inspiration for every New Year’s resolution (as is this editorial). Years ago, a friend of mine desperately needed a kidney. Jan immediately, and unexpectedly, offered hers had it proved to be a match. I was speechless. Well, almost. Later, at the tables, Jan suggested I keep down the chatter. Her words were thoughtful, propitious, and incontrovertible. “You talk too much!” My deference towards her was so deep that, known for being a “Chatty Kathy” before a game or tournament, since then I nary utter a peep while at the felt.
    Thank you for sharing this. It brought me back to a happy place, if only for a moment. 🙂

  3. Another nice read….

  4. Bette Midler said it well:

    “Cherish forever what makes you unique, ‘cuz you’re really a yawn if it goes.”

    No one yawns when Jan is around. A devilish angel if there ever was one.

  5. Nice but I’ve already met her, a long time ago. Back when she was dealing in Las Vegas. She reminded me of my ex-girl friend who I still had feelings for. I never told her that. Haven’t seen her since she and Linda came to The Argosy in Lawrenceburg Indiana back in 2007? She is a wonderful person. Proud to call her friend.

  6. Having known Jan for over a decade now I can say Nolan, you have only scratched the surface of this woman’s kindness. My life would be so much richer if I’d had the blessing of knowing her as long as you have.

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