Life Outside Poker: Farah Galfond on Days of Our Lives, Balancing Poker & Family

Farah Galfond

With her son well out of diapers and now grade school age, soap actress star and high-stakes poker player Farah Galfond is ready to dive back into the poker world.

Galfond, who starred in daytime dramas Days of Our Lives and One Life to Live and who is married to poker coach Phil Galfond, is on track to play more than she has in years with a new emphasis on tournaments.

Galfond recently appeared on the first episode of PokerNews' new podcast Life Outside Poker, which focuses on poker players with successful lives and careers outside of poker.

Early Acting Career

Galfond, born Farah Fath and named after renowned actress Farrah Fawcett, described her early childhood in Lexington, Kentucky as "a pretty stereotypical Southern upbringing" that involved beauty pageants, local theater and modeling.

"In ninth grade, I loved drama so much (that) I sort of begged my mom to take me to Hollywood to be an actress," she said. "And thankfully, she was naive enough to think, okay, yeah, we can do that."

Galfond got her first offers from agencies at a Hollywood convention when she was just 8 years old, but her mom "didn't understand that it would be like an actual serious thing" that would require her to move to California. When she went back to that convention the summer after her freshman year and met a manager, her mom was on board this time.

Farah Galfond
Farah Galfond

That same summer, Galfond connected with an agent who booked her first audition, which ended up being the only audition she needed.

"I got super lucky. The first audition that they sent me on was for Days of Our Lives, and I actually watched the show already. My babysitter watched it, my grandmother watched it, and I knew all the characters and I actually knew the character I was auditioning for (Mimi Lockhart) because it was a recast."

"So I had already seen this girl. And I think that just really worked to my advantage because I truly understood the storyline. And I had a lot of enthusiasm in my audition. And by enthusiasm, I mean I talked the casting lady's head off because I was fangirling over being there. And in hindsight, I can see how that worked for me because my character was actually like a bit of a blabbermouth."

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Discovering Poker in New York City

After eight years playing Mimi Lockhart on the iconic TV drama between 1999 and 2007, Galfond decided to leave the show to freely pursue other projects, a decision she said was "a lot easier said than done."

"I had booked a few movies over the course of my time on the show and I wasn't approved to do any of them, so I just stopped trying to do stuff on the side and I just thought, well, I want to see what I can do. But then on my last day I walked to my car and I just started bawling and I was just crying in my car and I just was saying to myself, what did I do?"

After three months of auditioning, Galfond landed a role — one written specifically for her — on another soap opera, One Life to Live, that saw her relocating across the country to New York City. It was here that Galfond was introduced to Texas Hold'em.

Farah Galfond
Farah Galfond

"I didn't know anyone but the cast and the crew on One Life, they would get together for home games at people's apartments and like, different people would host it. And I got invited and I knew the hand rankings because my dad taught me five card draw when I was a kid, but I didn't understand the betting. So I had to figure that out on the fly. I was a complete whale. I didn't know what I was doing, but I had so much fun."

Galfond started playing poker more seriously in Atlantic City until One Life to Live was canceled in 2011. She moved back to LA and "started playing more poker because I wasn't working anymore."

"I would play at the Commerce, like super low-stakes cash. And (I) followed Phil on Twitter and sort of the rest is history."

Life With Phil

Like most people in the poker world, Farah's first memory of Phil is seeing him play on shows like High Stakes Poker. "I liked his personality. I thought he had a really dry, understated sense of humor that I liked."

As they married in 2015 and had a son, Spencer, in 2018, Farah learned that her husband's positive traits at the poker table translated to fatherhood.

"He's kind of what you would expect him to be (as a dad). He's super cool and a fun dad, but definitely is very aware of emotions and feelings and want Spencer to feel like he is and is always in a safe place to share what he's feeling."

Phil Galfond
Phil Galfond

"Phil comes from a great family, so I knew he would be a great father ... It's my favorite thing watching him with Spencer."

Farah also credits Phil, a poker coach whose parents are teachers, with bringing her game to the next level.

"Everything I know is because of him. I think right away when we started dating and we would just be messing around at home with cards and chips ... We don't spend a ton of time studying together and having like these one-on-one lessons. But certainly over the years, just being in his orbit, I am like a sponge."

"I am the player I am today a lot, you know, because I want to be. But it's mostly because of him."

After several years of grinding low and mid-stakes, Galfond climbed up stakes and began playing some of the biggest cash games in Las Vegas.

"I moved up to $5/$10 and then I was beating $5/$10 and $10/$20 when I got the opportunity to play much bigger. And then that's when my high-stakes tenure started. It was probably 2017, and that was for about two years until I had Spencer ... I played as big as $2,000/$4,000 no-limit."

"And then yeah, once I had my baby, it all kind of just stopped ... So I was desperately trying to figure out my place in poker after he was born. And I tried a lot of things that just didn't work. I thought I would pick up where I left off in the high-stakes cash game scene and that proved to be tremendously stressful."

Finding Calm in Tournaments

While Galfond found herself feeling guilty about leaving her young child to go play cash games, she found that tournaments didn't trigger the same emotions.

"Cash games just gave me anxiety and I couldn't quite figure out why, because I had that's all I had been doing for the previous four or five years. But it turns out that when you have a little kid and you're playing cash game, you put pressure on yourself to go home because you can get up whenever you want."

Farah Galfond
Farah Galfond

"And I was like, All right, so let me figure out how I can play poker regularly without feeling so anxious. And I said, I'm going to try tournaments because in tournaments you're there until you bust. So maybe the pressure of getting up and going home will be lifted from me because I have no choice but to stay until my chips are gone. And it worked out okay. So last year, January of last year, I decided I'm just going to play tournaments this year."

After successfully shifting focus to tournaments in 2023, Galfond said she is on track to play even more poker this year.

"I'm putting as much volume as I can right now, as I possibly can being a mom. And I'm curious to see how this year ends up going. So, far we're down a little bit, but it's still early."

Women of the WSOP: Farah Galfond

Raising the Next Galfonds, Robls and Koons

Galfond's top priority is still taking care of her young son, and she isn't the only one. Many of her and Phil's closest friends in the high-stakes poker world, like Andrew Robl and Jason Koon, are at a similar stage in life.

"It's a really special time in our lives. We get to all be poker players and have that in common and now we're raising these kids. The next generation, the baby Robl, the baby Koon, the baby Galfond. It's just special. I can't see moving anywhere now that we have this great tight-knit group of friends that (are) all kind of on this journey together."

Reflecting on her acting career and the harrowing Hollywood revelations that emerged during the Me Too movement, Galfond says she wouldn't want her son to follow in her footsteps as a child actor. But if her son grew up to be a poker player? She has no problem with that.

"I would be supportive of that, much more so than him wanting to go be an actor. Only because his parents kind of, like, have a good grasp on things, especially Daddy. We'll help him do it the right way .... but yeah, I would be supportive of that, much more so than him wanting to go be an actor."

Head to YouTube to watch the full interview with Farah Galfond, which was filmed at Todd Brunson's Roma Deli in Las Vegas.

  • Farah Galfond talked about her acting career, high-stakes cash and more in an hourlong interview.

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