To say Ema Zajmovic was an underdog at the World Poker Tour (WPT) Playground Poker Club Main Event would be the understatement of the week. The Canadian had just $40,000 in previous live tournament earnings and qualified through a partypoker.net satellite. Not to mention a woman had never won an open WPT Championship event: until now.
The relative rookie beat big names like Jean-Pascal Savard and WPT Champions Club member Eric Afriat to take home the $241,500 championship title and inscribe the first female name into the record books. Zajmovic made the final table at the WPT Montreal in November but fell just short of first place.
In order to finally make her way to the winners circle, Zajmovic had to take down 379 players. Four had to be eliminated on the last day before the final table could be set, and Danny Li, Henry Tran, Ryan Yu and Carter Swidler were the unlucky few who didn’t make it to the money. The final table began with Tam Ho in the lead.
Savard was the first to go when he went all in on a pair against Jean-Francois Bouchard.
Bouchard managed a flush on the turn and Savard was paid $45,690. Zajmovic then showed a little bit of championship potential when she eliminated Mekhail Mekhail in fifth, but lost it quickly when Bouchard doubled through Afrait.
Tam Ho’s fourth-place elimination was what got Zajmovic back in the game when he flopped a flush and sent the remaining players into a three-handed battle with relatively even chip stacks.
Afriat got the lead early, but when he went all in to call Bouchard’s pair of aces he wasn’t able to recover and the Montreal native doubled up on Afriat’s elimination. Zajmovic and Bouchard entered heads-up play with Bouchard at a slight ship advantage.
A risky all-in, out-of-turn move by Bouchard gave Zajmovic about 90 percent of the chips in play, it all came down to K,Q vs. A,9 suited. The eventual winner managed to pair her king on the flop, and an additional queen on the turn crowned her the first ever WPT open event female champion.
Her win also came with a seat at the $15,000 WPT Tournament of Champions.
Final table results:
Featured photo credit: WPT
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