It would take 15 seasons before the first-ever female champion of an open WPT Main Event was crowned. I 2008 Van Nguyen won an invitational only WPT, and three female players – Natalia Nikitina (2011), Mette-Louise Christiansen (2014), and Irina Nikolaidi (2015) – have all won WPT National Main Events. Eleanor Gudger won the WPT500 in Nottingham in 2014. Over the last couple of seasons we have witnessed several women making WPT final tables, incl. Esther Taylor-Brady, Mina Greco, Kelly Minkin, Lu Zhang, Gaëlle Baumann, Maria Ho, Cate Hall, Diana Svensk – and Ema Zajmovic.
Just three months ago Ema Zajmovic finished in 5th place of the WPT Montreal Main Event for $76,108. It was the event poker legend Mike Sexton wound up winning. Before playing the WPT Montreal, Zajmovic had only $24k in tournament cashes to her name. The deep run got the cash game pro from Canada excited, and fortunately she decided to play the partypoker.net WPT Playground after winning an online satellite.
The event attracted 380 entries, which created a C$1,179,520 prize pool with C$241,500 and a $15k entry into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions for the winner. Going into the final day of play and with 10 players left, Zajmovic was the chip leader. Down to four players the chip lead changed back and forth, and with only three players left – Zajmovic, WPT champion Eric Afriat and Jean-Francois Bouchard – the players were almost even. When Afriat was sent to the rail in third place with a pair of aces vs. Bouchard’s top two (aces and jacks), Zajmovic was heads-up for the title and the glory.
With poker history in the making, more and more women in the room began paying attention to the final table. As Zajmovic said to the WPT live team: ”The funniest and nicest part of this experience was all the women who came and were so supportive of me. It was amazing”.
In what became the final hand of the tournament, Bouchard accidentally moved all in out of turn with . Zajmovic elected to call with , and when the board rolled out and Zajmovic made two pair, she was crowned the first female WPT champion. Huge congratulations to Ema Zajmovic on her impressive accomplishment.
What’s next? A female WSOP Main Event winner of course. And why not this summer!
Photo: Ema Zajmovic, partypoker.net WPT Playground