Breeze Zuckerman -- A Queen of All Trades at the 2010 World Series of Poker
Last Woman Standing Has Only Been Playing for 11 Months
From law school to a career as a journalist and from selling Beanie Babies on eBay to providing life coaching, Breeze Zuckerman has led a fascinating life. But 11 months ago, when a group of her female friends decided to host a little soirée with some dinner and some cards, her life would undergo one more major transformation.
Zuckerman, born and raised in Israel before moving to America 14 years ago, was instantly fascinated by poker.
“It was just a home game in Simi Valley,” Zuckerman remembers, saying the host of the game provided cheat sheets as to where the hands ranked to help out the women at the game. “I never knew that a flush beat a straight or whatever, and I was really bad…But I just liked it. I felt comfortable.”
Despite never having played the game before last August, Zuckerman was soon hooked. She played her first tournament in a ladies event at the Bike, where she ironically sat next to the last woman standing of 1995, and the only woman ever to make the main-event final table, Barbara Enright.
“We struck a friendship, and when I got home I Googled her, and I was like. ‘Oh my God,’ because I took her for a lot of chips. She became a close friend and kind of a mentor,” said Zuckerman, who became the last woman standing herself in this year’s main event during day 5.
Although she started playing more frequently, that $340 tournament was her biggest buy-in prior to the 2010 main event. She couldn’t afford to plunk down 10 grand for her chance to play in the world championship, but she also couldn’t shake that dream either.
So, she talked to a former business partner, who arranged for a couple to sponsor Zuckerman.
“These really lovely people decided to sponsor me about a week ago,” said Zuckerman. “It was my dream (to play the main event), but I never thought it would happen.”
Although her biggest cash prior to this tournament was only for a few thousand dollars in a deep-stack event here in Las Vegas, wherein she faced the perils of being a woman at a poker table first-hand — when the tournament went down to five-handed, everyone wanted to chop except one player, who said he never chops with women — Zuckerman says that this is what she is doing with her life now, saying she has “gone pro.”
That’s not to say this is all she’s going to do. Next month, she is going back to school for a masters in psychology and a degree in marriage and family counseling.
“For many years, all my friends came to me for advice and at some point, I said, ‘I’ve seen so many people through so many crises and so many life changes, why not do it for a little money?’” said Zuckerman.
Her career as a life coach is just the latest transition Zuckerman has undergone since moving to the states. While she went to law school and worked with a major Israeli newspaper as a writer and editor while she was overseas, her life took a very different turn upon living in America — and it’s all thanks to the Beanie Babies craze of the early ‘90s.
“I was living in Wisconsin, I would go to [the store] and buy one Beanie for five bucks, go on eBay and sell it for $24, and the business took from there,” said Zuckerman. “We sold all kinds of other collectibles [after that].”
Now, however, she’s just focused on poker. Although 7,319 people started this tournament, fewer than 140 remain, and with Zuckerman’s inexperience, she may be one of the most unlikely players left in the field.
However, she’s just trying to remain calm and take it one step at a time.
“I’m so overwhelmed. It doesn’t sink in. I don’t get what’s going on,” Zuckerman admitted, when interviewed by a group of media after day 5. “My dream was to make it to day 3. I never thought beyond that…[I’m just taking it] one level at a time, one break at a time.”
Editor’s Note: Zuckerman has now been eliminated from the 2010 main event.
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