Like many people, I learned how to play poker from my father. But unlike many in this category, my name is Amanda. We are not the typical father-son duo. 

Nor am I much of a tomboy or “one of the guys”.

My hobbies include watching make-up videos and listening to astrology podcasts. When I published a poker book in 2020, the cover had pink hearts and cute cursive decorations. 

I’m like, pretty girlie.

So, you can imagine everyone’s surprise at the WSOP this year when my dad and I entered the tag team event together. 

We didn’t exactly look like likely teammates.

Table of Contents

How the Tag Team Event Worked

If you’re not familiar, let me explain how the tag team event worked at this year’s World Series of Poker. 

  • You signed up in teams of two, although they allowed for up to four people per team in previous years.
     
  • The buy-in was $1,000, and my dad and I split the entry fee. (The WSOP does an excellent job, ensuring each person gets half of any future payouts. That way, no one person can run away with the winnings. Any prize money is split in advance, so you receive a payout slip for only half the amount your team won).
     
  • You must have both teammates register together.
     
  • Each teammate must play one round of blinds at some point during the event. 

That’s it. 

Poker Chips

So, in theory, a stronger teammate could pretty much play the entirety of the event. (For what it’s worth, I never saw it enforced keeping track of game time between players. It seemed to operate on the honour system.)

You can “tag-in” your teammate at any point when you’re not in a hand. (Obviously, it wouldn’t make sense in the middle of a hand to tap out or have someone else make a tough decision.) 

Also, the tournament has no breaks. Your only break is if you tag in your teammate.

The event was scheduled for three days, with the final day only the final table.

How Most Teams Operated

It was pretty clear that many teams had a stronger player than the other. A single person would sit there for hours with their teammate nowhere around. When we were at the final two tables, one guy said his teammate was asleep. It was clear who was carrying the weight there.

I’m not going to lie. Sometimes I’d secretly cheer when the weaker teammate tapped into the game. But their time didn’t usually last long if there was a clear skill difference. The majority of teams split their time fairly equally. It was rare to see significant differentials.

The teams were as you would expect: 

  • Many recreational guys played with their home game pals. 
  • Pros teamed up with pros (Melanie Weisner and Xuan Liu were an all-star female team that made it to the final three tables)
  • And I saw at least two husband-and-wife duos

There was one guy with an enormous stack that was playing exceptionally well. His seemingly less-attentive girlfriend almost proceeded to blow it all within fifteen minutes. 

She got lucky on the river, though. 

I’d like to point out that tag-team events tend to be more welcoming to women. A lot of women wouldn’t play a poker tournament on their own. But they are much more likely to participate with their husbands or girlfriends. 

My dad and I played the only other tag team event at Planet Hollywood, which had an unbelievable number of women for a poker tournament – I’d estimate 30% of the field.

It was a $120 buy-in per team. So, $60 each was much more affordable than most events. It was also incredibly entertaining. The WSOP event was different.

  • Each team started with two chip stacks.
  • At random intervals, you would have to swap
  • Sometimes every two minutes, they would switch you. 
  • Other times every 20 minutes. 
  • If one of your stacks was eliminated, then the teammates took turns playing the same stack

The event was more like a relay race than a poker tournament and was very friendly overall.

I believe one of the best ways to get more women in the game is creating more tag team tournaments as well as hosting ladies’ events.

In both tournaments, my dad and I were an unlikely duo challenging everyone’s expectations.

Day One – Tag Team

We flew in Sunday morning on Halloween since the event started that afternoon. We were exhausted and contemplated not even entering.

Our first day of the tag team event was off to a rocky start. Some might say horrible. I played the first hour and got us slightly above starting stack. 

Then I tagged my dad…

He blew most of our chips with pocket aces on a 6♣️7♦️9♠️ flop. (The other guy flopped a straight). 

  • And just like that, we were around 15 big blinds. 
  • We stayed like that almost the entirety of Day One.
  • I tagged back in and didn’t do much better. My phone was about to die, and so were we.

We were hovering around 10BB now!

My table was loose, so shoves wouldn’t get through. We were extremely card-dead, and there was not much I could do about it. I texted my dad and husband that we were almost out, and I’d plug my phone into a wall charger once we busted.

And indeed, my phone did die.

But forty-five minutes later, my husband had the know-how to look up the event on PokerNews. Sure enough, there I was, winning a small pot. He texted my dad we were still alive.

In the final two levels of the day, I faced my first tough decision.

We had 8BB (yes, only 8!), and I was UTG+1 with A♥️J♣️. I should mention here that there was also a big blind ante. So, in two hands, we would be down to six BB. 

Ouch!

I was so excited to finally have a shove-worthy hand when, of course, UTG raises. This play was very, very bad. He was an older man who usually limped.

I knew my Ace-Jack was probably way behind. The open-raiser was not the type to raise KQ or AT. 

Drat!

Cards

My thinking was the following: 

  • If he has a bigger ace than me or a pocket pair, like kings, then I have a roughly 30% chance of winning. 
  • Given how I was running, that may be the best equity opportunity I would have.
  • Again, with the big blind ante fast approaching, I was about to be blinded out.

So, I shoved, knowing I was getting it in behind… 

You’re in terrible shape when you’re praying your opponent has pocket kings. 

Then, to make matters worse, one of the other tight guys at the table re-shoves behind me. Of course, the preflop raiser snap calls with Kings. (Yup, I knew it.) The other guy has Queens.

Long story short, we binked the ace. (Actually, we hit two-pair for good measure). 

But by the end of the day, we were still running on fumes and bagged a very small stack for the following day.

Day Two – Tag Team

Honestly, I thought entering Day Two was pretty stupid. I was resentful. I had wanted to play the veterans tournament at the WSOP that morning. But since the tag team started at 2:00 PM, we couldn’t enter any earlier event.

I was almost convinced we would be out of the tag team tourney within an hour or two. We had less than 20 big blinds and were a shove-stack. 

My dad had even told my mom we wouldn’t last and would get dinner somewhere.

  • I’m pretty fearless, so we decided I would play our shove stack
  • I was all-in several times the first few orbits – mostly all squeezes

I was a bit fortunate that the guy to my right kept opening light. So, I could shove on him wide. My hands weren’t great – K9 type stuff – but that’s good enough for me.

Then I hit a few hands and chipped up a little. Nothing out of the ordinary but I got playable hands that connected.

Poker Chips

That’s when my dad texted me. He wanted to play. 

Ugh!” I thought. “I’ve been working so hard here – what if he blows it?” 

My dad pleaded to play for 30 minutes or so. He wouldn’t go broke again on aces, and I said - OK.

Nothing eventful happened. I tagged back in after a short lunch break, surprised how nice it was to let someone else play for a while. I had pretty much been carrying the weight for two days.

The grind was starting to get to me.

I tagged in and played one hand. 

Yes, ONE - Pocket Jacks

I went super thin for value in a huge pot, and the guy check-raised me all-in on the river as a bluff. I made the hero call based solely on his body language – 

  • His eyes, on the turn, were begging me not to bet too much.

The river didn’t change anything – pumping me with so much adrenaline my hands were shaking. We had a big stack now, and I decided to make the best play possible.

I texted my dad through shaky fingers, “You’re back in.”

I knew my emotions were getting to me, and I wanted my dad to hold down the fort. And he did - for hours and hours and hours. 

He carried us through most of Day Two, not only hanging in there but crushing it. That’s when we got some of the toughest table draws

  • He also got an excellent write-up in PokerNews, bluff-catching some big-name pros with a pair of threes.

To my surprise, I was having a blast. I was texting my husband and mom updates at a rapid-fire pace. Updating them on every step of the way – our chip stack just kept getting bigger. 

I needed the break emotionally, and my dad was playing like a rockstar.

Father-Daughter Teamwork Makes Dream Work

Not only was this true teamwork in action, but we had specific strengths other teams didn’t have.

That hero call was a game-changer for the tournament. In reality, it was a pretty dumb call, given the board texture. My decision was based entirely on live reads

  • But as we were playing, many people would say things like, “I’d make this call if these were my chips”. 
  • They didn’t want to make a mistake and let their teammate down.
  • This thinking handicapped their play.

This thought flashed across my mind when I was deciding whether to call that guy’s bluff. These were our team’s chips, not just mine. But I knew my dad would back me up in any decision. I had his blessing.

That was more than most people could say. My dad had faith in me, which gave me the confidence to go with my reads. It spoke to the strength of our team and gave us a huge advantage.

We also have entirely different table images. It doesn’t take long for people to find out that I’m young and aggressive. My dad, however, is 65-years-old. 

He says his table image has completely changed over the years. He said, in his twenties, everyone assumed he was a young kid bluffing. Now that’s he’s older, everyone thinks he’s tight and conservative.

When I texted him soon after tagging him in, he said, 

“We have won every single hand in the last hour – and I bluffed every one of them.”

Go, dad!

He said people got extremely frustrated whenever he bet. 

He’s sixty-five, so they have to fold!

The Final Table

We made it to Day Three and the final table! And at this point, we had a little bit of fanfare. I’d tweeted a picture of us playing poker at our kitchen table when I was in middle school.

It blew up a little on social media. 

As soon as we walked into the Rio, PokerNews asked if we would be available for an interview. For a moment, it felt like we were famous.

Famed poker commentator Lon McEachern even tweeted asking if we’d be wearing those same glasses?

But we didn’t have a great stack – I believe we were 7th out of 10. And the very first hand put us to the test.

An experienced player raised from the hijack. I figured he would be aware of the fact that most of us had never made a WSOP final table before, and so open a little light. He would be preying on our insecurity.

So, when I looked down at King-Jack off-suit on the button, I knew what I had to do: 3-bet.

He called.

The flop was: Q♠️J♠️9♣️.

I had the king of spades. He checked. I checked back.

The turn was an off-suit four. He bet. I called.

The river: 9♠️, paired the board and completed the front door flush.

He bombs it.

He puts us essentially all-in, save for two or three big blinds. Already this was it.

But I didn’t think he would go this thin and for this sizing with a queen. We block the straight and the king-high flush, making this the perfect hand to bluff-catch. 

Sure enough, we called, and he flipped over 8♥️7♥️

The call was a near double-up for us and the win.

As a strategy sidenote, had we called instead of 3-bet, she would have called and out-flopped us. But with a pair, gutshot, and backdoor flush draw, we would have undoubtedly stuck around and lost a big pot.

Had we called instead of 3-bet, she would definitely have called and out-flopped us. But with a pair, gutshot, and backdoor flush draw, we would have undoubtedly stuck around and lost a big pot.

I played most of the final table except when I was being interviewed.

And, of course, like karma, my dad was dealt pocket aces.

But, instead of a repeat of Day One, he played the hand brilliantly and lost the minimum when out-drawn by Ace-Queen. He probably preserved our stack better than I could have done on my own. 

He saved the day.

We ended up finishing in third place. When I was finally knocked out with Ace-Five to Ace-Six, the entire rail started cheering. Even one of the competing teammates went over and shook my hand.

We had done something amazing, and we left that day feeling like champions.
Most importantly, we did it together. It was 100% a team effort, and I had the best teammate anyone could hope to have. 

Thanks, Dad.

About the Author
By
Amanda is the author of the book A Girl's Guide to Poker, dedicated to making poker friendly and accessible to everyone. In 2021, she was a World Series of Poker final-tablist where she and her father took third place in the WSOP tag team event.
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