A 28-year-old professional poker player, who says she's a relative newcomer to the game, won the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout at the 2016 World Series of Poker on Friday night.
Los Angeles resident and Russian native Safiya Umerova earned $264,046 in first-place prize money, and her first WSOP bracelet, just one year after deciding to become a pro.
"I've only been playing poker for a very short time," Umerova said. "It's exciting. This is a great start for my career."
Umerova was first exposed to the game playing cash in card clubs around the Greater Los Angeles Area, after moving there six years ago. She says she discovered tournaments about 18 months ago and fell in love with the format immediately.
"I went really deep and almost made a final table in the first tournament I played," Umerova said. "That's when I realized how much I liked it. It's a different game. I like it much more than cash games. I really don't even want to play cash games anymore.
"I know I have a lot to learn. I know I'm not the best poker player in the world. But I study the game almost every day. I read a lot of books and I've worked very hard on my game to get here. I wouldn't be here if I didn’t work hard on my game."
The 2016 WSOP is Umerova's first, and she booked one cash earlier this year, finishing 189th in the $1,500 Bounty for $1,748 earlier this week. Leading up the the WSOP, she ran deep in a number of side events at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown and L.A. Poker Classic this year, booking at least one big score and a win.
Now, after coming through on poker's biggest stage, she's ready to take on all comers.
"I dream big," she said. "I want to be the best poker player in the World. I know I am not there yet, but I want to have the most gold bracelets anyone has ever had. That's the goal. That's what you are supposed to go for, right?"
$1,500 Shootout Final Table Results
Umerova ultimately outlasted a field of 1,050 entries to capture the title, including beating recent EPT Malta champ Niall Farrell heads up. Three-time WSOP bracelet winner Vanessa Selbst bubbled the final table.