Poker Coverage: Poker Tournaments U.S. Poker Markets Sports Betting Poker Strategy

Women At The World Series: Debbie Motycka

Illinois Resident Representing Her Poker League At The WSOP


Debbie Motycka, a scan coordinator from Orland Park, Illinois, played in the $1,500 no-limit hold’em event on Thursday at the WSOP. While poker has always been a large part of her life, the Illinois native by no means considers herself a professional. She is, however, a representative from her poker league back home, which helped fund her trip to the WSOP.

Motycka, who is in her late 50s, busted out of the tournament late last night, coming in 26th out of 1,594 and winning $11,964. However, she plans on returning next year in pursuit of a bracelet.

Women have been doing well at the WSOP in recent years. Since 2012, women have made more than two dozen final tables. Motycka was hoping to be the next one to do so.

Card Player had the opportunity to speak with Motycka during a break in play to discuss her home league, her obstacles as a female poker player, and her advice for other women pursuing poker.

Elaina Sauber: Is this your first time at the WSOP?

Debbie Motycka: I played one World Series event a couple years back, and didn’t do very well.

ES: How do you feel about your odds this year? Do you plan on playing any other events?

DM: I want a bracelet… [and] not this year, but I plan on coming back next year. We have a poker league where I live, and I’m the representative from my poker league, so the money I win, I keep 70 percent and 30 percent will be split between the league members. So, I play these when I earn my way in.

ES: So when did you first start playing poker?

DM: I played home games. (Laughs) my parents played when I was a kid.

ES: So it was sort of a family affair?

DM: Right. And my husband’s family is really big into gambling.

ES: What did they say when you told them you were coming out to the WSOP?

DM: Well, my husband is also [at the WSOP]. We have two representatives—we keep points every week, like a bowling league. So, we play for that week, and then you get points. The top point-getter gets to come, and then we have a roll-off tournament the last week. And you get chip stacks according to your points, and then you play in that…so we pay a price, money pool or whatever for air fare and hotel, and that turns into the tournament, and that’s how we do it. I’m here representing our league, from Orland Park Poker.

ES: Do you have another job as well, or do you consider yourself a professional poker player?

DM: Oh, I’m not a professional poker player. I have a job—it’s called a scan coordinator. I work at pricing for a grocery store chain in the Chicagoland area. I do the pricing through the computer, I make signs for the store, [and] I do different work that way.

ES: You’ve played a lot of cash games. Does your technique ever change up when you come in and play a tournament at the WSOP?

DM: I prefer tournaments to cash games. I like the fact, when you’re all even, you know what I’m saying? Because some people have a lot more money than I do, and so in a cash game, I would feel intimidated because that money means less to them than it does to me. [In a tournament], I started with the same amount of chips as they did, and those chips mean a lot.

ES: So it’s an equal investment for everybody.

DM: Right—that’s why I like it that way.

ES: Since poker has been a huge part of your life for many years, have you ever encountered any obstacles as a female player?

DM: Oh, yes. When I won the [league tournament] to go to the WSOP, there were my nephews specifically, who said, ‘You know Rick or I should be going to represent,’ even though I won the thing, so I would like to say to them, ‘how do you like me now?’ (laughs).

ES: Do you think they don’t take you as seriously as a female poker player—is that part of it?

DM: It could be. Just because I’m female doesn’t mean I cannot be just as competitive.

ES: Are the other players pretty respectful toward you?

DM: Yes, I haven’t had any problems with respect at all.

ES: What’s the best piece of advice another player has ever given you?

DM: To be aggressive—to not be bullied…because when I first started playing, I could be bullied, and then I decided, I’m not going to be.

ES: Would you give that same advice to another female player trying to get her foot in the door?

DM: Yes. You have to believe in yourself, have the confidence, maybe take some adversity in your past, and use it to spur you on.