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Weisner: Woman Making Main Event Final Table Wouldn't Have 'Transformative Effect' On Poker

Poker Pro Has Big Stack With Less Than 400 Remaining On Day 4

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Poker pro Melanie Weisner was for a short time the chip leader on day 4 of the 2016 WSOP main event, and she went into the dinner break on Friday with one of the biggest stacks in the room with just 380 players left.

Earlier in the day, Maria Ho and Weisner were no. 1 and no. 2 in chips, respectively. It very well could be the first time in modern main event history that two women were atop the chip counts with so few players left.

“I’m sure there’s no precedent for it,” Weisner told Card Player. “Maria and I have been playing poker a long time and it’s cool that we’re here. There are other very talented women still in the field, and that’s very cool. It’s all just very cool (laughs), and I’m very excited.”

While Ho slid down the chip counts as play continued on Friday evening, Weisner maintained her big stack and sat in the Rio Convention Center as poised as anyone in the field to vie for a final table on Monday or early Tuesday morning.

“My first table was great, but I chipped down to 750,000,” Weisner said of the start to her day 4. “I was in a couple rough spots. Then I got to this new table with a lot of good players. I chipped up to 2.6 million, and that was my high point. Considering how important table draw is, I am thrilled.”

“The aggression factor is always bigger [at a tougher table], and there’s going to be more gambling. I guess some of the aggression contributed to [my stack], but I think it was more the hands themselves. Maybe they could have happened anywhere, but one was definitely the product of this table. It’s always super nice to get moved to a much tougher table and triple your stack.”

As noted in Card Player’s interview with Ho, the last time a woman made the main event final table was when Barbara Enright finished fifth in 1995. Weisner said she can’t help but let the thought of making the November Nine pop up at times, but gender has little to do with the dream.

Like the seasoned poker pro that she is, Weisner is focusing on one hand at a time.

“It’s a super long marathon and I’m not trying to get ahead of myself, but it’s nice when things are going right and you are playing your A-game throughout the tourney,” said Weisner, who was one of 268 women to enter this year. “It’s a very rewarding feeling to have. Making the final table is every poker player’s dream, and to be the first woman in a long time. But it would be great to just be a person at that final table. Playing poker professionally is about putting yourself in the most financially rewarding spots, and in a tournament that’s the richest of the year in terms of payout to buy-in, you really can’t ask for much more than [a final table].”

With $734,473 in lifetime earnings, the Houston native is no stranger to deep runs in tournaments, but the main event is a different animal. According to her, there’s no additional pressure for trying to end two decades worth of final tables without a woman being there. It’s about the prize money. The top prize is $8 million.

“I don’t think [the pressure] is amplified by being the last woman standing or woman to make the final table,” the NYU graduate said. “It’s just a prestigious event and there’s so much money on the line and that alone is very overwhelming. There are so many talented players who make it deep, and you end up playing against the best. You are making decisions for hundreds of thousands of dollars and that is a lot of pressure. The female thing is secondary to that.”

Weisner is skeptical about women helping spark another poker boom and what her making the final table would do for the game overall. Just three states in America have regulated online poker at the moment. According to how Weisner looks at it, adding more states to the mix would surely be a bigger factor than having a woman among the November Nine.

“I think women just don’t have as much of a penchant for poker and that kind of scene as much as men do,” Weisner said. “But I do think there would be a lot of attention on a woman making the final table, and the whole idea is to encourage more smart women to play poker and to view it as this very challenging mental pursuit and not this sort of old school, men in a dark room smoking cigars kind of thing. But I think poker has already evolved to that point, and so I don’t think having a woman make the final table would have a transformative effect.”

For more coverage from the summer series, visit the 2016 WSOP landing page complete with a full schedule, news, player interviews and event recaps.