Among all the things we know and love about poker, its perfect inclusivity is among the very best. So long as you have the money for the buy-in, and are over 21 years old, absolutely anyone can play the game. Not only that, but sometimes the seeming underdog can come out on top. Just ask North Carolina’s Susan Faber.
Faber, who is a 71-year-old tax accountant by day and recreational poker player by night, has just snagged a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet, worth $121,161. She prevailed in the $500 Salute To Warriors No Limit Hold’em event and became the first woman to win an “open” event this series. There were 1,723 players sitting down at the start, but Faber beat them all.
“I am so excited and so thrilled to be a bracelet winner,” Faber told reporters. “That’s on my bucket list!”
The Salute To Warriors event was a special addition to the schedule this year and offered $40 from each entry to the United Services Organization and other veterans charities. It paused yesterday and took a day off for US Independence Day. It was only fitting.
Shortly before the tournament went heads-up this afternoon, leaving Faber to face off against Rob Stark, she walked over to the rail to meet a group of supporters who had attached themselves to Faber just today. “I didn’t think I’d get this far,” she said. She then also playfully slapped the leg of a man in a plaid shirt in the front row of the bleachers — a clear indication that this was Mr Faber, sitting and watching his wife make history.
Sure enough, I soon found myself in conversation with Gary Faber, also a CPA, who has been married to the new bracelet winner for 44 years. “Way too long,” he said with a chuckle.
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Gary told me that Susan only got into poker five or six years ago, playing sometimes at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in Charlotte, NC, but also spending two or three nights a week playing for play money only in restaurants in their hometown. “She got into this, now you can’t get her out of it,” Gary said of his wife, going on to detail someone well and truly gripped by the poker bug. “She loves to play,” he said.
Gary said that Susan’s father was a gambler, but that the couple only used to play a little blackjack and other casino games before poker entered their life. Gary doesn’t play at all, explaining that he’s a “walker” and doesn’t have the patience to sit still long enough for poker. Even being on the sidelines for the final table was tough for him. “I can’t watch, I’m too nervous,” he said. “It’s exciting, but nerve-wracking.”
The couple were due to fly home today, but had to postpone owing to Susan’s remarkable run. They used the day off to visit the Strip and play a little blackjack. “I wouldn’t let her play poker,” Gary said, hinting that she would have if he could have.
They then returned to the Rio today and Susan began what amounts to a steam-rollering of the final table. She was second in chips overnight, but knocked out Kulwant Singh in eighth, with jacks beating tens and soon took over the chip lead from Taylor Carroll. That then allowed her to knock Carroll out. This time aces held against sevens.
Faber rivered a straight to send Chris Canan to the rail in fourth, cracking Canan’s kings, and she then got 6♦2♦ to beat Dean Yoon’s K♠8♥ (it was a short-stack shove) to take them to heads up. Faber had a five-to-one lead over Stark and after only a few hands he shipped for 12 big blinds with 7♣3♦ and Faber called with 5♥5♣. The pair held up.
“How does it feel?” one of her cheering section shouted from alongside the table.
“Woooonderful!” Faber shouted back.
Gary lent on the railings as his wife had her winners photos taken, but then was able to sit still long enough for the celebratory group shot. And will Susan now play the Main Event?
“We’re going home,” Gary said. But Susan said she’ll be back next year.