updated 07/16/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 07/16/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Betty Carey, 25, often begins work around midnight and sometimes doesn't quit for 30 hours. She is a professional poker player—"by far the best woman in the world," according to Doyle Brunson, twice winner of the World Series of Poker. "She's as cool as Denver ice water," says Doyle. "She gives everyone she plays fits." That includes "Amarillo Slim" Preston, another World Series winner (and an avowed chauvinist), who recently dropped $50,000 to Betty in a winner-take-all game of "Freeze Out." Born in Cody, Wyo., where her mother runs an auto repair shop, Carey dropped out of Texas' San Jacinto College when her math and psychology courses began paying off at the poker table. She figures it costs "about $30,000 to learn the game," and did her own graduate work (financed by a secret backer) at $6-limit stud games in Nevada casinos. "Men think I'm timid so they try to bluff me a lot," notes Carey. Males sometimes turn into sore losers, but she shrugs, "I don't care what anybody thinks as long as I bring home the cash." Although she won't divulge her exact winnings ("The IRS never thinks you can lose"), Carey is far enough ahead to indulge in horseback riding and maintain pads in both Houston and Las Vegas. "Poker can wear you down," she admits. So don't call her at either place before noon.