2014 WSOP

Carol Fuchs Becomes First Woman to Win Bracelet at 2015 World Series of Poker

With the $10,000 Main Event approaching, those looking to nab a gold bracelet at the 2015 World Series of Poker had better get moving, as there is not much time left. Over the weekend, one of the more unlikely winners achieved that goal, as Carol Fuchs won the $1,500 Dealer’s Choice Event.

Fuchs is a self-professed amateur part-time poker player, having fun with the game when she is not working hard in her profession as film producer and screenwriter in Hollywood. She co-wrote the 2007 movie No Reservations starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, and Abigail Breslin. But her writing skill was not going to help her at the poker table (oh how I wish… or maybe I don’t?) as she attempted to best 356 other hopefuls in one of the most difficult tournaments at the 2015 WSOP.

It’s not like Fuchs has zero experience – she frequents card rooms in Southern California, preferring the Commerce Casino, and won events in both the 2005 and 2011 L.A. Poker Open – but this was an entirely different ball of wax. The Dealer’s Choice Event debuted last year and is arguably the most unique tournament at the World Series of Poker. If you are asking, “Is it ‘Dealer’s Choice’ like at my home game?” then the answer is yes, it really is like that.

In the Dealer’s Choice Event, a special dealer’s choice button rotates around the table, switching owners each orbit. The person with that button at the start of the round gets to decide what game will be played for that orbit, choosing from amongst 18 different game types. Some are typical – No-Limit Hold’em, Seven Card Stud, or Fuch’s favorite, Pot-Limit Omaha – but there are some real oddballs in there, too, games that people don’t typically play anymore in casinos, like Big O and Five Card Draw.* There are no restrictions on the game choice, aside from the set lineup of games, so players can keep picking the same games over and over if they would like.

In a 2014 interview with WSOP.com, Tournament Director Jack Effel said of the addition of Dealer’s Choice:

Dealer’s Choice is a concept that I have been wanting to implement at the WSOP for a long time. Almost every poker player has played some form of dealer’s choice, whether it was around the kitchen table with friends and family or in a mixed format in a poker room somewhere in the world. A couple of years ago, I started asking players what they thought about it. I recall having a conversation with Eric Rodawig, and he thought the event was a no-brainer.

Thus, the Dealer’s Choice Event requires players to not just be skilled in a wide variety of events, but to be able to adapt smoothly to anything that is thrown at them. Whereas in a typical mixed game event, players can weather a round of their weakest game type knowing it will end and they can move on to something else, it is entirely possible that a player would have to put up with round after round of their toughest challenge in Dealer’s Choice.

2015 WSOP Dealer's Choice Event Winner Carol Fuchs Image credit: Jamie Thompson

2015 WSOP Dealer’s Choice Event Winner Carol Fuchs
Image credit: Jamie Thompson

So when an amateur wins such an event at a final table full of accomplished players, it is quite the unlikely victory. “When I was playing at the final table, I really felt comfortable. I didn’t really feel much pressure,” Fuchs told WSOP.com in a post-game interview.  “It’s fun for me. It’s not a payday. They had more pressure, I think. For me, this is a bonus.”

At the same time, though, she admitted she was surprised with how easily she made adjustments, especially considering there was a game or two she had never played.

This was Carol Fuchs’ first-ever World Series of Poker bracelet. She nearly doubled her lifetime live tournament earnings, adding $127,735 to her career sum to bring her total to $279,020. She defeated Ilya Krupin, who had two previous top-15 cashes at this year’s WSOP, in the heads-up match. In winning, she also prevented Robert Mizrachi from accomplishing the amazing feat of winning the event in back-to-back years. Mizrachi has three gold bracelets in his career and has finished in the top-12 four times at the 2015 WSOP.

Carol Fuchs also became the first woman to win a bracelet in an open event this year and the 21st female to do so in the history of the WSOP. Considering the size of the tournament fields, the odds of any given individual player winning a tournament are extremely low. With men drastically outnumbering the women at the World Series of Poker, a woman winning a bracelet is even more of a longshot. And as we well know, poker has long been a sort of “good old boys club,” so, to me at least, the sight of a woman taking down a title is always a welcome one. The last woman to win a bracelet in an open event was Vanessa Selbst, last May. She has three to her name.

*I’ll be honest. I’ve been in this industry for a decade and had never heard of Big O. As it turns out, it is Five Card Omaha, a game which has actually been growing in popularity online. It is the same as Omaha, except that players are dealt five cards instead of four. Players must use two cards from their hand and three from the board, etc.

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