Interview with Lynn Gilmartin

The smiling face of Lynn Gilmartin is practically synonymous with the World Poker Tour. As the show’s anchor, her on-camera presence guides poker fans as the tour completes its circuit around the world year after year. Yet, there’s a LOT more than meets the eye with this exceptionally talented and interesting woman. We dug deep with our interview research to reveal what Lynn is like away from her professional career and we couldn’t have been more impressed.

It was a real treat to sit with her and get to know her better. Hope you enjoy the interview; we’ve also included a transcript for your benefit.

Interview Transcript

Hey everybody, Robbie Strazynski at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in South Florida in Hollywood with the exceptional and talented Lynn Gilmartin. How are you today?

Well, thank you very much!

It’s really good to meet you; I don’t use those words facetiously; I’ve done a lot of research on this interview, and really, you’re an incredibly impressive individual, and I’m really looking forward to talking with you for the next few minutes.

You have to be the sweetest person. Thank you; you’re so nice.

Well, it’s nice to meet the Lead Anchor of the World Poker Tour, very cool.

It’s nice to meet you too!

Thank you very much. You’re a familiar personality to anyone who has watched World Poker Tour over the past few seasons, since 2013, I believe?

Uh-huh.

And prior to that you were a presenter for PokerNews. How did you get into poker in the first place?

I kind of fell into it—accidentally, sort of, I guess. Marketing is my background, and I worked at the casino in Melbourne, in marketing.

The Crown?

Yes. So I worked in marketing in table games in general, and then a position came up in the poker department that looked like it was so much more fun, you know, because I had all the fun events, and rather than a gaming product it was more of a sports product that we would be marketing. So I was like, I’ll take that job!

So you knew nothing about poker?

I knew nothing.

You didn’t know, like, two pair beats a pair? Nothing?

I had never played at a table, I knew nothing, but I knew about how to make brochures and flyers and it looked like it was so much more fun, so I wanted to be over in the department. So that’s how I started, and I sort of started my journey in the poker world that way.

And did you know already then like, I want to present, I want to be on camera, that sort of thing?

I always wanted to perform in some way, ever since I was a child. I was always onstage, acting, dancing, and it was always a dream to do something like that, in entertainment. But then I quit that dream and went towards the corporate career, so it was always something that I wanted to do. But no, when I was working there, that wasn’t ever a direction I thought I was going to go, but my boss wanted to start a YouTube channel, and that’s how it started. It just happened so randomly—one day, I get a call from the poker room, the guys downstairs are like “Lynnie, come down here, we want you to interview someone,” I’m like “What?”

Out of the blue, with no preparation?

No preparation!

Well, that’s how you make it. And you made it. Well, poker pros, all these people sitting behind us right now at the Tournament of Champions for the World Poker Tour, they often have coaches, they have mentors, they have people who help train them to get to where they are today. Is there anyone in our career looking back who trained you to become sort of the on-camera personality that you’ve become?

That’s a great question.

We try.

Yeah! You know, I wouldn’t say there’s a stand-out one person that I’ve kind of looked up to or who has mentored me, I guess, but over, in terms of like the on-camera stuff, all of that I kind of had to learn along the way. I really sort of dove into the deep end. I really did. Like, my first job as a reporter on PokerNews, I was just a fish out of water, a lot of tears were shed, I was terrified, I had no idea what I was doing.

But just over the years, learning, watching other people and just understanding all the other girls that I worked with, you know, I worked with Sarah Herring and Kristy Arnett for many years at PokerNews and I learned so much from them. We had such a good time, and I think it’s just more of a general observation of the industry and others and learning from everyone that I meet, I think we can all learn something from someone, from everyone.

Very cool. Well, let’s shift away from poker. We learned quite a bit about you away from your poker pursuits. I visited lynngilmartin.com and there is a plethora of information about you. You engage in a number of extracurricular activities, for instance, you are a—let me get this right—a Holistic Wellbeing Coach. What does that mean? What do you do, what does a Holistic Wellbeing Coach do?

So, well I haven’t been working as a coach really at all, except for like myself and my boyfriend. But I studied nutrition online, and the course—it’s great, because it’s online, so it’s perfect for the lifestyle that we have, right, traveling around. And it sort of was teaching all about different ways of looking at food and living your life and your lifestyle. So, holistic wellbeing, I thought I was signing up for a nutrition course, to learn about foods because I was really interested in that. But actually, it ended up being a whole holistic view of looking at your wellbeing, and it doesn’t just end at food, it’s your lifestyle, your relationships, your work-life balance, your mentality about things, all sort of encapsulates your health.

Right. And when you say coach, do you have like, private people or individuals who come to you—?

I don’t. I was going to, I was thinking of maybe doing that but—or at least just with my blog, I was writing and… yeah, I was maybe going to go down that path, but I haven’t.

Yet! Perhaps yet.

Yeah, who knows what might happen.

There is something that is just sort of blaring, I guess it’s the motto, the credo that you have, and it’s all over your site. It’s three simple principles: Be Well, Travel Often and Life’s Good. Right?

Yes!

So that’s really an amazing mantra. What does mean to you, and how do you feel that people can apply it to their everyday lives?

So, it’s kind of like I say it’s kind of like my recipe to a healthy life, to your wellbeing, and it comes in these three parts. So “Be well” is just about taking care of your body physically, working out and eating well. This is the vehicle that we are driven through our life with, and it’s really truly the only asset that we really have in life.

And you only get one; you can’t get a replacement.

And we only get one, right. And when we die, this is the only asset that is still with us, kind of. So you’ve got to take care of your health; that’s the “Be well” portion. That’s just all about learning about foods that work for you and exercise and stuff. “Travel often” is… traveling is such a priceless education, I just feel like it’s something that all of us should do, constantly experiencing new things and it doesn’t necessarily mean going on overseas trips, I know that’s not accessible to everyone, we’re very lucky that we can be traveling for work.

But even just experiencing new things, traveling within your community, you know, trying a class that you’ve never tried—you know, like a sound bath meditation, or something that just sounds so ridiculously foreign, but just trying new things I think really helps you open your mind and branch outside of this box of beliefs that we’ve kind of adopted throughout our childhood, really, that we learn, so it’s a good way to kind of like break through just different ways of thinking, and when you have more of an open mind, it’s easier to go into “Life’s good,” which is all about your mentality, like just the way that you look at everything in life.

Positivity.

Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to—you can’t always be positive, it’s hard, I mean, we’re human, and things happen—

Gut reactions, and such—

We do, we do. But when you sort of train your brain to look at things in a little bit more of a positive light, it makes it a lot easier to handle things that are kind of a bit ugly that come your way.

That very much resonates with me 100%. I totally agree with you. Well, I mean, I’m a poker player, you’re a poker player, we’ve got a bunch of poker players behind us. How does that mantra fit into the lifestyle of a poker player?

Well, I mean, your body is connected to your mind and poker is a mental game, and you need to take care of yourself physically, for clarity, for the energy to be able to stay awake for those long hours and endure the journey that is a poker tournament.

And also your stress levels; if you’re kind of throwing your whole physiological balance out of whack then you’re actually less likely to be able to control your emotions, your whole fight or flight is going off, your adrenaline is pumping and you’ll be a bit more irrational in the way that you’re going to analyze things or handle things, so food has a big influence on that, not just the way of thinking, it all sort of works together, so as a poker player, you need to be eating well, you need to be having, like, brain food, you need to be taking care of yourself.

I suppose it keeps you grounded as well.

It does, yeah.

Interesting. Well, another thing, one of the ways you practice what you preach about nutrition. There’s this Jooce Bar, J-O-O-C-E, what’s that all about?

So, a little passion project, you know! So my family, my brother’s got a restaurant up in Cannes, in Australia, in Palm Cove—

Wait, you’re Australian?!

Have I lost my accent?

No, no.

And it’s named after my nephews, Jack and Shannon. And so inside is my little Jooce Bar, my little corner of health, and it’s just all focused on—there’s all these recipes that I created in my parents’ kitchen, and it was just so much fun, it was such a cool project to put together. So the whole menu I designed in mum and dad’s kitchen, and yeah, it’s up there in Palm Cove, if you’re ever in Australia, it’s a beautiful part of the country. It’s amazing, right near the Great Barrier Reef.

Do you want to make this a chain store at some point, throughout Australia?

That was the intention, but when you’re on the road, it’s hard to have a business like that. I would love to make it even more than what it is, but I’m not there to make more. But never say never.

I want to go back to something you said about the mantra, part of the “Be well, travel often, life’s good.” As you said, the idea of “travel often,” I also love traveling and stuff, it’s not always a function of resources; it’s also a function of time. People are working nine to five, that sort of a thing. How would you suggest that someone with not too much time in their schedule go ahead and do that “travel often”? Because I can agree that it’s certainly a part of someone’s education.

Yeah, totally. I mean, if you can do, like, classes, it might be one hour of a week that you’re trying something new, you know, so if it was some random—if you’ve never tried yoga, try it. If you’ve never tried meditation, try it. If you’ve never tried karate, just go and try something different. That’s one hour a week.

It’s more like experience new things, it’s not necessarily places.

Not necessarily places, you know, just trying to open your mind and travel in that way. Or even if it’s reading something, travel in your mind and read a book that you would never usually pick up that might make you sort of see life in a different way.

People don’t read books enough these days, for sure.

True, true.

You said that ever since you were a little girl you wanted to act, you have a little bit of a passion for that. So, apparently, little fine print on lynngilmartin.com, says that you enrolled as a student at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Are you still a student there?

No, now I’m at another studio in LA called Leslie Cannes, but—

What do you do there? How often? What have you learned?

I learned a lot—you know, actually, and that’s even something I think everyone should try. I think acting classes, is quite beneficial, just as a human, because you learn so much just about yourself as a human, really, and others, and understanding yourself and the way that you react to things and the way that you deliver things and just it’s very interesting, I’ve been learning so much and that’s been the most unexpected lesson of acting classes. And I’ve been learning a lot about comedy, I think comedy’s fun, and I like the idea of making people laugh—

Like stand-up?

No, like sitcom stuff. I like the idea of making people laugh. I’m not actually a funny person, I just enjoy delivering other people’s funny jokes.

Aha, I see. Well do you have some sort of plan of crafting a sitcom or of maybe appearing on one at some point?

I would love to. That would be a dream.

Pay attention! Agents, pay attention. She’s looking for a job in Hollywood. OK, so. How has studying there—all of the skills, the unexpected and the expected—how has that helped you with your on-camera work for the WPT?

Well actually, you learn so much about your facial expressions, apparently, and one of the first things I got told when I started at Beverly Hills Playhouse—it was during a program called Hollywood Immersive, which is awesome, it’s this immersive one-week program, which really got the ball rolling for me to start taking acting classes, because I had not taken acting in ages, and then I took that program, and it was a good one—but the first thing I heard was, I have a very expressive face.

Well, sure. Most on-camera presenters do, and that’s what’s so endearing about someone who does this sort of thing, sure.

Well, yeah, but I’d never thought of it that way. So I quickly realized, and that was actually where I had to tone it down a little bit for my acting, not to overexpress, because you don’t want to overact. But then I realized, that’s probably why I’m a losing poker player.

‘Cause it’s all written all over your face?

It’s all over my face.

Well, I mean, I think we have a question about that. You’re not exactly a losing poker player; I believe you won EPT Barcelona at some point, the ladies’ event.

The ladies’ event, yeah.

Well, still—look, I’ll never win a ladies’ event. You’ve won some decent money as a player. How often do you actually hit the felt and play once in a while, every so often?

I do, yeah, I wish I played more, nowadays I’m probably only playing like once a month. I wish it was more.

Is there like a “WPT family home game” sort of thing, or?

There are a couple home games in LA, not with the WPT folk because we’re kind of all over the place. Well, actually, no, a couple of WPT producers do play at one of the home games that I’m in. It’s like a monthly tournament out in Burbank, it’s fun. So I play, yeah, I’d say it’s probably about once a month. I’ve got to play more; I’m getting rusty.

Gotcha. One of the other sections on your website—before moving back into the poker—is that you have an entire section devoted to Philanthropy. I think that’s a beautiful thing; I love connecting poker to charity. What are some of the causes close to your heart and why?

Animals. Animals is my big, big soft spot, you know. I think it’s cool to just sort of focus on one area where you would love to give back and that you’re really passionate about, and for me it’s animals. I just feel like our society kind of… we’ve created a world that makes it very difficult for a lot of animals to exist here and it is our fault as humans and I would like to help take responsibility to make a change for that, so I’m a global ambassador for Wildlife Warriors in Australia, which is Steve Irwin’s amazing foundation—

Oh, the Crocodile Hunter!

Yes, haha, good accent! They have an animal hospital up in Queensland in Australia, and they have thousands of animals come through every year that are affected by mostly, a lot of it can be natural disaster, like a fire or something that’s injured animals, but a lot of it is koalas getting hit by cars, or they’re displaced from their homes because we’re building and cutting down trees, and so that wildlife hospital is very very very busy taking care of a lot of animals. And a few others, like Edgar’s Mission is this incredible rescue center in Australia, where animals that are rescued from nearby, like where it’s production, farming places, or I don’t know. They’re rescued from all kinds of places, and it’s just this amazing sanctuary of joy, like when you go to visit, it’s all these animals that are just living in this beautiful sanctuary, and, yeah, it makes me happy. I love animals.

Like you said, it’s a very expressive face and you can really tell that it’s a cause that’s close to your heart, the way you speak about it. That’s really admirable.

Thank you.

Let’s go back to poker for a moment; we’ll shift gears, like we did last time. In all of your adventures, on and off camera and stuff, what are some of the crazy stories that you’re allowed to tell but that a lot of people maybe don’t necessarily know about?

Ooh, crazy stories.

Give me one.

The craziest personal experience for me—I’m a low-stakes poker player. Like if I play cash games, I’ll play, you know, $1/$2, $2/$5 is probably the highest I’ve ever played, right?

In Australian dollars.

(laughs) So we were at Alpha8 St. Kitt’s and it’s a $100,000 buy-in tournament, and it was so much fun because it was this outdoor table, poker room, the backdrop was the Caribbean, there was a pool, all the guys were like shirtless and jumping in the pool and the ocean during the breaks, it was really fun. And a side event had started, but it was a charity event and it was a $25,000 buy-in charity event. And the tournament was going kind of slow, the main event, so my duties had backed off a little.

And so Bill Perkins was so kind as to say “Lynn! Come take a seat!” and bought me into a $25,000 charity event! And I got to sit down at that tournament and play, at a $25,000 buy-in tournament! But then, lightning speed happens at the main tournament, at the Alpha8 tournament, and suddenly, before you know it, something like two or three players had busted out and we had the final table, which meant I had to get up and go back to work, so I only got to play like two orbits!

Did you just like shove it all in, say “I gotta go”?

No, they let me swap my seat out for someone else. But that was such a cool experience!

For sure, I don’t know how many people can say—except for the pros out here—that they played in a $25,000 charity tournament.

Mike Sexton. I mean, he’s the face of, you could say the World Poker Tour’s so synonymous with him. You’ve obviously gotten to be quite close with him, you see it on all the social media, pictures of you guys together. You’ve taken dance lessons with him, he’s a ballroom instructor. When he won a World Poker Tour title for the first time this past season, what was that like for you, as someone who’s not just a coworker and a colleague, but a friend? What was that like?

It was amazing. That night, it was just the most—everyone in the room, the whole crew, because everyone loves Mike, and Mike is just… everything that you see of Mike, that is him times 10 in real life. But he’s just got a heart of gold, and everyone at WPT adores Mike. And so that night, we were all on the edge of our seats, just like “Please, please, please,” and it was getting really late. And usually, when a poker tournament starts to approach midnight, and short stacks double up, sorry…

WATCH/READ: Interview with Mike Sexton

People turn into pumpkins.

We’re all a little like “Ugh,” you know, we don’t want to root against anyone, but we get tired. That night, we were like “We will stay here until 6 a.m. just to get this done!” We were all jumping around, I had my slippers on down off my perch over at the commentary booth because I didn’t want to be like kind of removed from everything. I needed to be down there, I needed to be close, I wanted to see what was happening. We were all just jumping around every time he doubled up, ‘cause he kept getting some amazing hands and—

It was a roller coaster ride to the finish there.

It really was. And see, and he’s so passionate, he gets so… he just loves the game. You could see the tears welling up in his eyes and it was just… oh my god. And it makes me cry, and in the heads-up interview? I don’t know how I wasn’t a mess.

Wow. Well, when do we get to see yourself or Vince doing a heads-up interview? Maybe Mike’ll be holding the camera when you win an event of your own, perhaps?

Oh, I don’t know. Hopefully soon.

Is that something you covet, perhaps? As a player?

Oh, to win a WPT? Absolutely! Absolutely.

Well, now you guys are allowed to play, so maybe we’ll see it someday. Last question, and this is a very interesting one: Did you realize that you and I share a birthday?

Get out of town! November 3rd? Hey, Scorpio!

So perhaps we’ll be celebrating a birthday at some point together, but I will say I’ve really enjoyed, as I said at the outset, I’ve really enjoyed speaking with you, Lynn. This is Lynn Gilmartin, you can find her on Twitter @LynnGilmartin and of course at lynngilmartin.com. I’m Robbie Strazynski, you can find me on Twitter @cardplayerlife. Thanks for watching here at Cardplayer Lifestyle.

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