WPT: Ema Zajmovic Wins WPT Montreal; First Female Open Event Champ


Ema Zajmovic overcame a field of 380 to win the WPT Montreal event. (WPT photo)

There was plenty of intrigue heading into the final table of the World Poker Tour Montreal event at the Playground Poker Club. Former WPT champion Eric Afriat was gunning for a second WPT title while Ema Zajmovic, who made the final table of the previous WPT held at the Playground, was playing to be the first woman to win an open WPT event.

In a long battle among the final tablists, Zajmovic outlasted them all to win the WPT title and $200,769. In her only two WPT cashes, Zajmovic now has two final tables and one championship to her name in one of the greatest back-to-back accomplishments in the history of the WPT.

It was an arduous final table that took over 250 hands to complete and 36 hands to eliminate the first player. That unlucky competitor was Jean-Pascal Savard, who started the final table in the middle of the pack but quickly slid down the leaderboard.

In his final hand of the final table, Savard raised to 100,000 from the hijack and Jean-Francois Bouchard called on the button. Savard bet 130,000 on the 4d3s2s flop and Bouchard moved all in. With 750,000 behind, Savard called with JhJc and needed to hold against Bouchard’s two draws with As4s. The 8s on the turn ended the hand and Savard hit the rail in sixth place.

It took 74 more hands for the next bust out and Mekhail Mekhail was the victim. Mekhail raised to 225,000 from the cutoff and Zajmovic went all in from the button. Mekhail called for a few hundred thousand more with AcJc and was an underdog to the KsKd of Zajmovic. A jack hit the flop but that was all the help Mekhail would get as Zajmovic moved into the chip lead with the elimination.

The next to go was Tam Ho, who took his leave 65 hands later. Ho shoved all in for 11 big blinds with 9d8d and was called by Zajmovic from the big blind who had Ah2h. The Kh9h3h flop gave Zajmovic the nut flush and she eliminated her second opponent of the final table.

Only 19 hands later, the event was down to heads up play. Bouchard doubled through Afriat, leaving the latter with less than one big blind. Bouchard opened for 300,000 from the button and called the three-bet of 700,000 from Afriat. Afriat continued for 450,000 on the Jd9s2d flop and Bouchard called. On the Ah turn, Afriat slowed down with a check and Bouchard bet 900,000. Afriat check-raised all in for effectively 2,250,000 and Bouchard called with AsJs which had the Ad6h of Afriat drawing dead.

Afriat was eliminated on the next hand by Zajmovic and heads up play began shortly after. Zajmovic started the match with Bouchard with 30 big blinds to Bouchard’s 46.

It took 33 hands for Zajmovic to claim the chip lead and she closed out the title shortly after. On the 256th hand of the final table, Zajmovic took out Bouchard and claimed the title. Bouchard was all in for 20 big blinds with As9s against the KsQs but fell behind on the KcTh7c flop. The turn and river changed nothing and Zajmovic completed her incredible run.

With the win, Zajmovic locks up a spot in the WPT Tournament of Champions and secures herself a place in the history of the WPT.

Final Table Payouts

  1. Ema Zajmovic – $200,768
  2. Jean-Francois Bouchard – $130,208
  3. Eric Afriat – $83,608
  4. Tam Ho – $55,131
  5. Mekhail Mekhail – $42,462
  6. Jean-Pascal Savard – $35,146