Ema Zajmovic Makes History, Wins WPT Playground

Ema Zajmovic
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  • Ema Zajmovic paired her king on the flop and sealed her historic win with a queen on the turn.

  • Ema Zajmovic created a buzz last November at WPT Montreal. Now she's made history at WPT Playground.

At her second straight World Poker Tour (WPT) Main Event final table at Playground Poker Club, Canadian Ema Zajmovic has become the first woman to win an open WPT Championship event.

Zajmovic, who qualified online via partypoker.net, defeated the likes of WPT Champions Club member Eric Afriat and her friend Jean-Pascal Savard at the final table before delivering the final blow to heads-up opponent Jean-Francois Bouchard.

After creating a buzz last November at the WPT Montreal final table, Zajmovic fell short of etching her name in history, and the WPT Champions Cup, falling in fifth place. Just a few months later, Zajmovic came back to claim what was hers, besting a field of 380 players, and walking away with the WPT Playground Championship belt, $241,500 and a seat at the $15,000 WPT Tournament of Champions.

Final Table Results:

PlaceNamePrize
1Ema Zajmovic$241,500
2Jean-Francois Bouchard$169,270
3Eric Afriat$108,690
4Tam Ho$71,670
5Mekhail Mekhail$55,200
6Jean-Pascal Savard$45,690

Day 4 began with 10 players and a restart of the unofficial final table. Normally, Day 4 ends when the field is down to six and an official final table but the players were eager to battle for the title and did not want to delay.

Losing the majority of his chips after doubling up Danny Li, Henry Tran was left crippled and would soon depart as the first casualty of the day. A huge cooler spelled the end for Ryan Yu who ended in ninth place. Yu four-bet shoved preflop with pocket queens only to be called and crushed by Tam Ho’s pocket kings.

Popular Twitch streamer Carter Swidler saw his deep run end in eighth place when he also fell victim to a cooler. Swidler picked up pocket tens and got his stack in the middle but ran into Bouchard’s pocket kings. Li soon joined him on the rail, falling in seventh.

With the official final table of six set, play resumed with Tam Ho in the lead. Savard got his chips in good with an over-pair on the flop against Bouchard who called with a nut-flush draw and got there on the turn to eliminate Savard in sixth.

Afriat went on a run and chipped up into the lead until Zajmovic stung the former WPT Champion hard. Zajmovic had moved all in with pocket tens, running straight into Afriat’s pocket aces. As luck would have it, the flop delivered a ten and Zajmovic survived.

Zajmovic then took over the chip lead with the elimination of Mekhail Mekhail in fifth place, only to lose it again when Bouchard doubled through Afriat a few hands later. Zajmovic kept up the aggression and busted Ho with a flopped nut flush to set up three-handed play.

Stacks were pretty even between the final three with Afriat gaining the advantage after a few hands. Not long after, Afriat check-raised all in on a bet from Bouchard on the turn after pairing his ace only to see Bouchard snap-call, turning over a better ace, leaving Afriat drawing dead. Bouchard scored the double up and Afriat was left crippled, losing the rest to Zajmovic on the next hand.

Jean-Francois Bouchard
Jean-Francois Bouchard

Bouchard began heads-up play with a slight chip advantage but over the next two levels, Zajmovic flipped the table and was back in control. Bouchard had been chipping away at the lead until Zajmovic was able to deal the final blow.

With Zajmovic on the button, Bouchard moved out of turn announcing all in before Zajmovic had a chance to act. After getting the ruling, Zajmovic completed the small blind, making Bouchard’s action binding and made the call putting Bouchard at risk.

Almost 90 percent of the chips in play were now in the middle with Zajmovic holding king-queen of spades, slightly behind Bouchard’s ace-nine of spades. Zajmovic paired her king on the flop and sealed the win with a queen on the turn, leaving Bouchard drawing dead, and sending all the chips, trophies, belts and money toward the newest WPT Champion and first female WPT open event Champion, Ema Zajmovic.

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