The House Always Wins?

From getting her first job in a Las Vegas casino to earning her place in an elite card counting gang, Cat Hulbert faced chauvinism at every turn during her professional gambling career. Overcoming the odds, she has now been called, the ‘best female gambler on earth’. This week on Benched, we found out how she broke the glass ceiling in this notoriously male-dominated arena.

Cat started her career as a dealer behind the table, rather than playing at it - which is where she first noticed a ‘strategy’ being used behind some of the most successful blackjack players. As she dealt, she tried to figure out what it was they were doing. After finally asking one of the players, she was introduced to card counting.

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She went on to successfully master the skills herself, become a top blackjack player and join notorious card counting gang, The Czechoslovakians. But it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. It was originally thought that having a woman in the gang would be so unexpected that she would go under the radar, and the whole group would reap the rewards. The reality was very different, “No woman bet up to the stakes I did. It drew a lot of attention,” says Cat” As a result, she was arrested, back-roomed and barred from casinos many times - even making it into the notorious Griffith Book.

After blackjack, she went on to play poker at a similarly high-level, but the transition wasn’t easy. Not only did she have to master new tactics, but she also had to learn to keep her own emotions in check noting that, “Poker has an emotional quality that almost occupies 50-60% of the game … And because I’m bipolar, I’ve always fought with that.”

Today, retired from the professional game after a stint player virtual poker, she tells us the story of how she worked her way up to the top and what she makes of her life’s work looking back. Listen to Benched to hear the full story.