It’s not everyday a World Series of Poker bracelet is picked up by hands with long, manicured fingernails and the first place prize money is placed into a Channel purse. But that is what happened Monday afternoon at the 2012 WSOP when Allyn Jaffrey Shulman won the final hand of the $1,000 Seniors No Limit Hold’em Championship and broke a 249-tournament male winning streak.
“I’m happy for myself but I am also happy for all women that I’ve won this, showing that any woman can win a poker tournament,” Shulman said. “I’d like to see more women out there playing and feeling comfortable going at it with the boys.”
Not only did Shulman outlast 4,127 players and become the first woman to win a bracelet outside the annual Ladies event since Vanessa Selbst’s 2008 $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha event, she scooped up $603,713, the largest first place payout for a woman outside Annette Obrestad’s 2007 WSOPE Main Event win.
But before she could secure her place in WSOP history, Shulman had to outlast a two-day final table that included two-time bracelet winner Hoyt Corkins and best original November Niner and 2008 Main Event third place finisher Dennis Phillips heads-up.
“I knew coming in that Dennis was a better player than I was and I had to get tricky and get lucky to get past him,” Shulman said.
The final table began Sunday, Father’s day, and Shulman said she thought often of her own father while she was working her way toward the winner’s seat.
“My father is deceased, but yesterday (Father’s day) I just felt a warm presence come over me, the presence of my father and I wanted to make him proud. I wanted to play the best game I could possibly play,” she said.
And she did. Even though the eliminations of Stuart Spear and William Stabler came at her hands, Shulman bagged the shortest chip stack when the four-handed final table broke at the conclusion of Day 3. When Day 4 began Shulman got to work, sending Bob Phelps home as the third place finisher and then set to work on Phillips.
Phillips, who was in search of his first WSOP bracelet, was about even in chips with Shulman when he made his final move and pushed all in with A 6. Shulman called, showed A T and a flop of Q T 2 gave her an even greater lead. The 5 on the turn and J on the river did nothing for Phillips and sealed his fate as runner-up.
Pocket pairs were just unkind to Harold Lilie and proved to be the hands that resulted in him being the first elimination of the final table on Day 3. Holding 9 9 Lilie raised to 100,000 only to answered by a three-bet all-in from Corkins. Lilie ultimately made the call and was up against A Q. After a flop of 8 7 5, Lilie was ahead, but very aware of the multiple outs Corkins was hoping for. The J on the turn kept Lilie in the lead, but Corkins hit the K on the river for the flush, giving him the pot and a large portion of Lilie’s stack. A few hands later a crippled Lilie made his final move of the tournament when he went all-in for 450,000 holding Q Q. But once again Lilie’s pocket pair was bested, this time by the A K held by Stabler on a A 9 3 4 J board. Lilie received at $48,669 pay day for his tournament run.
Stabler then went on to pick off a short-stacked Martin Fitzmaurice, who was all in for the third hand in a row for his last 270,000 holding T 7. Stabler called with A K to see a K 8 3 K 6 board and sent Fitzmaurice home as the eighth place finisher.
With Fitzmaurice gone, the seven remaining players traded chips and pots for about five hours before Phillips started getting aggressive. After being dealt 9 9 Phillips pushed his 1,115,000 stack to the center of the table and found a caller in William Thompson on his left who had just slightly less at 1,080,000. Thompson turned over A J and waited for the dealer to reveal the board. But Phillips’ nines held on a K 7 4 K Q board and sent Thompson away as the seventh place finisher.
Action quickly picked up after Thompson’s elimination and not long after Spear raised pre-flop to 300,000 in the small blind, only to be answered by Shulman who moved all-in for 1,400,000. Spear decided to release his hand and was left with just 640,000. One full orbit later Spear and Shulman tangled again when Spear pushed his remaining chips in with K T and Shulman called with A 8. A flop of Q 3 2 opened up some possibilities for Spear and the J on the turn gave him some additional outs, but the 7 on the river made Shulman’s ace-high the best hand. Spear’s sixth place finish and $110,416 pay day went into the record books as his best WSOP career finish.
Spear’s elimination only served to increase the action in the final table which had seen a painfully slow start. After ending the tournament lives of Lilie and Fitzmaurice earlier in the day it was Stabler’s turn to go. Shulman had just sent Spear’s to the rail and immediately turned her attention on Stabler, who had been crippled by Phelps just minutes before. Stabler put his small stack of 225,000 in the middle from under the gun and when action folded to Shulman, she re-raised to 500,000. Corkins and Phelps tossed their cards away, Stabler turned over T T and Shulman revealed A K. A flop of A 5 3 left Stabler drawing to at least one of the remaining two tens in the deck, but Shulman’s pair of aces held after a turn of 2 and a river of K. Stabler’s fifth place exit for a $147,605 payday left Shulman, Philips, Corkins and Phelps battling for the bracelet.
Not long after Spear’s elimination the four remaining players were forced to bag their chips for the night with Philips in the lead, followed by Phelps, Corkins and Shulman as the short-stack. The players returned at 12pm PT Monday and Corkins quickly found himself in danger of being sent home. Corkins moved all-in for 1.6 million from the small blind and was soon called by Phelps, the oldest player at the table at age 67, in the big blind. Corkins opened up the A 2 and Phelps revealed 8 8. Phelps, already ahead, saw his hand improve when the flop of [10s] 8 6 gave him a third eight and left Corkins in need of runner-runner hearts or aces. But bracelet No. 3 was not in the cards for the two-time bracelet winner as the board ran out Q 7. Corkins received $199,023 for his Seniors event run.
After eliminating the only bracelet winner at the table Phelps, with a large crowd of supporters behind him, got aggressive with Shulman in a bid to knock her out of the tournament. Holding Q J re-raised to 1 million after an initial raise by Shulman, prompting Shulman, who held A J, to respond with an all-in for her remaining 2.53 million. Phelps thought long and hard before making the call but and got ahead when a queen appeared on the turn, but a rivered flush for Shulman left Phelps with the shortest stack in play. A few hands later Shulman, made his final move of the day when he went all-in with pocket sixes only to be made Shulman’s third victim of the final table when she called with pocket queens. The board ran out with no help for Phelps, but the underdog received an energetic standing ovation as he made his way to the cash cage for $270,727.
$1,000 Seniors No Limit Hold’em Championship final table results:
- Allyn Jaffrey Shulman – $603,713
- Dennis Phillips – $372,895
- Bob Phelps – $270,727
- Hoyt Corkins- $199,023
- William Stabler – $147,605
- Stuart Spear – $110,416
- William Thompson – $83,332
- Martin Fitzmaurice – $63,418
- Harold Lilie – $48,669
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