Lee Davy sits down with Christina Lindley to talk about her experiences in the modeling, and acting world, and why she moved on to be a successful poker player.
The last time I saw Christina Lindley she was kicking ass at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Grand Prix de Paris. It was Season XII, she was a member of the WPT Ones to Watch, and she finished a very respectable fifth place, earning $112,590 in the process.
Two years later and she is sitting not far from me in the Millionaire Maker. As is her style, she is having fun, talking to everyone, and building a stack.
I wonder what she is doing in this game?
At one time she was a very successful model, and had started to pick up some acting jobs in Hollywood. And yet here she is sitting at the dirty green baize playing poker for a living.
As we head for break I grab hold of her to find out why?
This is what she had to say.
What have you been up to since I last saw you in Paris?
“I’ve been playing a lot more cash games in Vegas. I traveled a little bit less for the World Poker Tour (WPT) last year. I was traveling more the year before because I was in the Ones to Watch. You are only going to be chosen for that once so I wanted to make sure I made the most of the moment.”
How was the Ones to Watch experience?
“I think they do a lot of things really well. At that point in my career I had a lot of online success, but not a lot of live cashes. The fact that they gave me that kind of opportunity without having a lot of live cashes is truly amazing. It’s a great opportunity for an up and coming player. They are a well-oiled machine, and I love playing WPT events.”
How did you become a professional poker player?
“All I ever wanted to do was act. Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were my inspirations. I did some modeling between the ages of 13 – 17. Then we moved to Tennessee, and there isn’t much there except country music videos, so I took a break, and picked it back up when I was 21. I did fitness modeling and that took me to LA where I started acting.
‘Things were looking good, and suddenly there was a writers strike. For over a year there were no projects made, and I’m the type of person who likes to work a lot. I decided to spend some time with my Dad in Tunica. He took me to a casino. I saw an opportunity to utilize everything I had learned in psychology, math, acting…elements of my brain that I hadn’t used for a long time whilst I was modeling. I fell in love with poker, and by the time the writer’s strike had ended, acting was no longer as important to me.
“Five years ago I decided to leave Hollywood behind and move to Vegas. I am a workaholic, and I knew if I stayed I would have been dragged into casting calls and auditions. To give myself the greatest chance of becoming a great poker player I had to focus entirely on my game, and that’s what I have been doing.”
Talk about your time as a model?
“When I started I was in my teens. I was very gangly. I was chosen to do a lot of runway for prom wear and things like that in Atlanta. Then as I got older I became naturally very curvy lending itself to lingerie and swimwear modeling. Taking it with the fitness element I enjoyed the effort I had to put into it to get a six pack, and be toned, rather than just a curvy girl with boobs. I really appreciated that side of modeling, and it gave me a really good work ethic.”
“Acting is a lot like poker. You can be the shiniest, best actor in the whole world, but if you aren’t discovered then it means nothing. You need a break. Poker is exactly the same. I know people who are much better than me, but have still never won a six-figure score online. It’s a lot of hard work, knowing the right people, and getting lucky.”
Why have you been so successful?
“When I get into something I develop tunnel vision. I don’t like to do things half-assed. If I love something, it’s all I think about, and all I work on. Take poker as an example. I have studied every video, seen every final table, I talk hands with the best players, and I have hired the best coaches.
“It was the same with acting. I remember I was hired to be a Wild ’N Out Girl on MTV. It was primarily an RNB show and I was the token white girl. They asked me if I could dance? I had just moved in from Nashville. I had never been to a club, and never been able to dance. I knew I had to lie, to get the job, so I told them I could dance. I then spent all of the money they gave me hiring Britney Spears choreographer to help me learn to dance. I am willing to invest in myself if I feel I can do something, and so far it’s worked out well for me.”
What holds you back in life?
“Sometimes I work so hard I burn out. I try to do everything at once. I need to learn to take time off. If I can learn to relax more it would certainly help me, and my poker game.”
What are your dreams and Aspirations?
“I would like to be bi-coastal. Have enough money to be able to switch between Miami and Vegas. My Paris trip whetted my appetite for traveling around Europe. I want to win a WSOP gold bracelet, WPT Main Event title, make the final table of the Main Event, and continue to play poker and maintain my lifestyle.
Nothing outside of poker?
“Like I said I have tunnel-vision. I do see myself achieving those goals. After that I will move on and do something else, but I’m not sure what that is now. I enjoy art and writing. I am writing for Gaming Today, an online newspaper, and I would like to explore that further.
How did you get involved with art?
“It was such a good creative outlet for me when I was acting, and I have missed it. My friend is an amazing painter, and I was watching her recently and decided to give it another try. It’s an outlet for my creative energy. I like to paint when I bust a tournament, it allows me to be expressive.
“I recently went to an art and wine painting class with one of my girlfriends. It makes it fun, and is a social thing. That’s what got me started. Looking at a picture helps a lot. I pick a bunch of images, put them on my computer screen and then create something in my mind that I want to paint.”
Something tells me that there is an easel in her studio with a slither of gold painted on it.