Canadian Ema Zajmovic Makes WPT History, Winning WPT Playground for $241,500


History was made at the WPT Playground Main Event this week at Playground Poker Club in Kahnawake, Quebec.  When the final card was dealt, Ema Zajmovic reigned supreme by taking home the coveted WPT Playground Championship belt, making her the first female to win an open WPT Main Event.

The $3,200 + $300 Main Event attracted 380 players, creating a prize pool of $1,179,520, and giving first place $241,500 and a USD $15,000 seat into the WPT Tournament of Champions.  The fourth and final day of play started with an all-Canadian ten-handed final table.

Some notable players to cash but not make the final table were Pascal Lefrancois (11th – $20,160), WPT Season 13 Player of The Year Anthony Zinno (24th – $9,600), Samuel Gagnon (25th – $8,100), Jake Schwartz (27th – $8100), Harley Stoffmaker (28th – $6,720), Nenad Medic (32nd – $6,720), Marc-Andre Ladouceur (35th – $6,720), Christian Harder (40th – $6,120) and Marc Etienne McLaughlin (41st – $6,120).

The Day 4 ten-handed final table counts looked like the following:

Seat Name Chips (Big Blinds)
Seat 1 Tam Ho 1,700,00 (57 bb)
Seat 2 Eric Afriat 1,135,000 (38 bb)
Seat 3 Mekhail Mekhail 300,000 (10 bb)
Seat 4 Ryan Yu 520,000 (17 bb)
Seat 5 Jean-Pascal Savard 2,095,000 (70 bb)
Seat 6 Carter Swidler 615,000 (21 bb)
Seat 7 Ema Zajmovic 2,985,000 (100 bb)
Seat 8 Henry Tran 525,000 (18 bb)
Seat 9 Danny Li 495,000 (17 bb)
Seat 10 Jean-Francois Bouchard 1,005,000 (34 bb)

Henry Tran
th – $20,160), Ryan Yu, (9th – $24,120), Carter Swidler (8th, $31,200), and Danny Li (7th – 38,280) were all eliminated early on into the day, setting up the official six-handed WPT final table.

Tam Ho led the final six with 3.5 million in chips, while Zajmovic was a close second with 3 million and WPT Champions Club member and most notable player remaining Eric Afriat was sitting as the short stack with 11 big blinds.

Jean-Pascal Savard was the first to exit the official WPT final table when Afriat doubled up off of Savard and then Savard and Jean-Francois Bouchard put all the chips in the middle on a flop of :4d :3s :2s.  Savard was at risk but in the lead holding two red Jacks. Bouchard was still drawing live with a ton of outs holding :As :4s for top pair, a gutshot, and a flush draw.  The flush came on the turn for Bouchard leaving Savard drawing dead and eliminating him in sixth place for $45,690.

Zajmovic then took the chip lead when she eliminated Mekhail Mekhail in fifth place for $55,200 when Zajmovic held :Kd :Ks against the :Ac :Jc of Mekhail. Mekhail flopped a jack but could not improve the rest of the hand to head to the rail.

Zajmovic is not inexperienced at running deep in WPT events at Playground, when last November she finished in fifth place after being eliminated by eventual champion, Mike Sexton.

Afriat then went on a heater picking up seven pots in a row at one point and increasing his chip stack to over 6 million.

Zajmovic and Ho then clashed as Ho moved all in from the button and after getting a count, Zajmovic made the call putting Ho at risk for his tournament life.

Ho: :9d :8d
Zajmovic: :Ah :2h

The flop was gin for Zajmovic when she flopped a flush with the dealer fanning :Kh :9h :3h.  Ho wasn’t dead but needed runner-runner to make a full house.  The turn was the :5s leaving Ho drawing dead.  The dealer laid out the meaningless :2s to make Ho’s elimination official.  Ho was eliminated in fourth place taking home $71,670.

Afriat, Zajmovic, and Bouchard all started three-handed play relatively close in chips, with the later holding the slight chip lead.  After giving up the chip lead to Afriat, Bouchard then doubled up off of Afriat leaving him with less than one big blind and catapulting Bouchard into a massive chip lead.

Afriat then called from the button for less than the big blind and Zajmovic completed from the small blind.  Bouchard checked his option from the big blind and the players saw a flop of :Ac :2c :3d.  Both players checked the side pot on the turn (:Ah) and the river (:As). Zajmovic showed :Kh :Qh and Bouchard mucked, giving Zajmovic the side pot. Afriat turned over the :Ks :Ts and was eliminated in third place, taking home $108,690.

Bouchard started heads-up play with Zajmovic with a 3-2 chip advantage.  Zajmovic, who was looking to become the first female winner of an open WPT Main Event then ground away at the disadvantage and eventually got the lead.  On the final hand, Bouchard moved all in out of turn, but after Zajmovic completed from the small blind, Bouchard’s all-in shove was binding and Zajmovic made the call.

Bouchard: :As :9s
Zajmovic: :Ks :Qs

Bouchard was in the lead but at risk and needed his hand to hold up to continue the tournament.  The flop came :Kc :Th :7c and Zajmovic now held the best hand.  The turn brought the :Qh giving Zajmovic two pair, but giving Bouchard a straight draw.  The river was the :5s, locking up the hand for Zajmovic and creating history as the first women to win an open WPT title.  

Bouchard took home $169,270 for second place while Zajmovic etches her name in WPT lore along with her name on the WPT Champions Cup, a WPT Playground Championship belt, a seat in the USD $15,000 WPT Tournament of Champions, and $241,500.

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