When the 2016 World Series of Poker schedule was announced, Dustin and Lisa Meredith circled a few events they wanted to play. Their first choice was the $1,500 Monster Stack, but Lisa’s parents, who had volunteered to look after the kids one weekend, weren’t available that weekend, so they chose the Millionaire Maker instead.
On Tuesday, Lisa Meredith might become a millionaire.
Meredith is one of only 15 players left in the Millionaire Maker and the former kindergarten teacher is enjoying the ride, even if it’s been a little stressful.
“It’s incredible. I’ve tried to be as conservative as I can be, yet seize opportunities and that’s how I’ve made it. It’s fluctuated more in these last few tables, I feel like it’s been more of a roller coaster than my whole tournament so I don’t know if it represents my play very well,” said Meredith. “I’ve had to make more moves than usual. Just to get here I’ve tried to seize as many opportunities as I could, if I see people being hesitant, I try to be aggressive.”
While the players she’s surrounded by – like Garrett Greer, Jason DeWitt and Sofia Lovgren – seemingly have lots of experience playing in bigger buy-in tournaments, Meredith fine-tuned her game playing in $20 tournaments at a local pub in Portland, Oregon.
“We play all the time, about once a week, at a little place called Claudia’s in Portland and they have daily tournaments, and once a month they have bigger tournaments and I’ve won the last three of those two. It’s just a small little bar with seven tables,” said Meredith.
As she’s progressed through the tournament, her husband has been trying to prep her for the next day by giving her intel on some of the other players at her table that she may not be familiar with.
“My husband was trying to show me some of the pros the night before and I purposely wasn’t paying attention because I don’t want to feel like I’m going to play differently with one person versus another,” said Meredith. “There’s of course, some I would definitely recognize, but others, if they’re off my radar I’d rather keep it that way.”
She’s only got one cash showing on her HendonMob profile; a $100 buy-in event in Pendleton, Oregon that she won for just over $10,000. While some might view her as one of the least experienced players still in the hunt for that million dollars, Meredith doesn’t see it that way at all.
“I feel like I deserve to be here with the rest of them,” said Meredith. “I know I don’t have quite as much experience but I have great intuition and it’s worked well for me and with more experience I’ll be better and better.”
Meredith, who taught kindergarten for six years before enjoying maternity leave after her last baby was born, was set to return to her classroom in the fall, but if the next 24 hours pans out the way she wants, that might not be the case.
“(Returning) was dependent on how well I did here. I would much rather be a professional poker player, being home with my babies. I’d love to do that,” said Meredith. “That would be the dream.”
And as she bagged up chips at the end of Day 3 of the four-day tournament, Meredith allowed herself to dream about what could happen to her on Tuesday if she wins – or even finishes second – in the tournament and ends up with a seven-figure windfall.
“It would be the most exciting thing that’s every happened besides the birth of my two children,” said Meredith, who already has a plan to make sure she doesn’t squander life-changing money.
“Pay off the house number one,” said Meredith. “I want to be conservative, I’ll be very smart. I’m not going to be like one of these athletes who blows their money right away. I am smart I’m going to use it wisely.”
No matter how it turns out though, Meredith knows her deep run in a WSOP event with all that money on the line is something every poker player dreams about.
“It is the most fun thing I’ve ever done. It’s my passion,” said Meredith, who used to be a competitive gymnast. “I missed that competitive element and this provides that for me. It’s a blast.”
Action resumes at 11 AM PT with the final table streaming on WSOP.com later in the day.