East Coast grinder Melissa Burr is laying waste to the 2014 World Series of Poker but her recent achievement might be the most impressive yet.
Burr finished seventh in the male-dominated $50,000 buy-in Poker Players’ Championship earlier today.
She became the first female to ever cash in the tournament and took home $165,435.
Prior to today Burr had already made two final tables and finished ninth in the $1,500 Dealer’s Choice event for a total overall haul of just under $100,000 this year.
Not bad for a player many poker fans had never heard of before this WSOP.
Graduating from University to High-Stakes Poker
Burr didn’t plan to be a professional poker player but that is exactly what she did. She found herself in the business world after graduating from the University of Delaware with a degree Marketing and a minor in Philosophy.
Burr first picked up poker after a trip to Atlantic City. She was watching a popular $7.50/$15 Limit Hold’em game, with towers of pink $2.50 chips, when she realized this was her game.
“I was playing the pink chip game at the Tropicana and the pots were just enormous,” Burr recalled. “That’s when I fell in love; I saw all those chips and said ‘man, I want them.’”
Burr was working as a job recruiter and playing online poker when she was laid off from her own job. She increased her online play when a life decision saved her from a big financial hit.
“I was 24-tabling Limit Hold’em on PokerStars and I was Supernova with them for a few years,” Burr said. “Right before Black Friday I was deciding whether to try for Supernova Elite or move to Atlantic City to play for a living.
“As it turns out, I dodged one of the biggest bullets of my life when I decided to move to Atlantic City.
“I got out right before (Black Friday). I was still playing online but I wasn’t doing the high volume I was when I decided to move to Atlantic City and play cash.”
Burr Adds Omaha-8, Stud-8 Skills to Arsenal
Burr began her career playing Limit Hold’em and quickly moved up stakes before switching to split pot games on the advice of her boyfriend.
“When I moved down there I was playing $20/$40 Limit Hold’em and my boyfriend Ryan (Miller) convinced me the money was in Omaha/8 and Stud/8,” Burr explained.
“He taught me how to play those games. One day we just took a big plunge and started playing a regular $150/$300 OE (Omaha/8 Stud/8 mix) game which was phenomenal.
“We started playing that and it all took off from there.”
Burr’s success prompted her to begin coming to Las Vegas each summer for the WSOP but she did not have immediately success. She was able to analyze her game and continued to improve until her breakout year.
“Our first summer out here we played all the $10k’s and had no success,” Burr said. “I actually bubbled the first $10k I ever played, I was seven off the money and really disappointed. I’ll never forget that.
“Every year since then I’ve come out here and haven’t had that much success. But every year I realize all these small adjustments I needed to make with the transition from cash to tournaments.
“I think they’ve all come together for this summer.”
Taking on Big Guns in $50k Poker Player's Championship
Burr already had two WSOP event final tables to her credit this year, in Omaha/8 and Stud/8, before finishing ninth in the Dealer’s Choice event. She didn’t intend to play in the $50k Poker Players Championship but decided to buy in after encouragement from her friends.
“A few of my No-Limit buddies asked if I was playing the $50k and it seemed so ridiculous. I said no because I’d have to sell a lot,” Burr said. “They said they’d buy a small percentage if that helped.
“So I put a couple feelers out to see if I could sell pieces to the event and the response was overwhelming.
“In two hours I basically sold what I wanted and then some. I oversold myself because I figured if people had the confidence in me to think I was going to win, then I’ll win for them.”
Burr’s chip count in the tournament fluctuated but she rode out the long money bubble to become the first female to cash in the prestigious event.
It was a tense time but her table helped her relax, even with the tough lineup of Rob Mizrachi, Matt Glantz, John Hennigan, and Jesse Martin.
“We were all familiar with each other; it was the toughest shortest table and we were playing fast,” Burr recalled. “But the flip side to that is that it was calming.”
“We were laughing and we were having a good time even though it was a high stress environment.
“It calmed me down to have some familiar faces and to laugh with. That actually intensified the experience and made it a little better.”
Betting Big on $50k PPC Success
Burr was given added incentive to cash in the Poker Players Championship. Rob Mizrachi offered her 15-to-1 odds of cashing in the tournament after he won a similar bet against her in the Dealer’s Choice event.
“Rob Mizrachi gave me 4-to-1 for a lady to win the (Dealer’s Choice) event when there were three of us left. I didn’t win that bet, but I did win this bet,” Burr said.
“When there were 91 people left (in Poker Players Championship), I was a little bit short, but I had 100k so anything can happen. He gave me 15-to-1 to cash the event.”
It was a good natured wager but it was Mizrachi who almost missed the money. He was the shortest stack when the field was one player from the money.
“It was really looking grim there; it looked like maybe he could be the bubble. That would have been really depressing for him and I wasn’t rooting for that.
“Rob’s a good friend of mine; everything we bet is in good fun.”
Burr not only cashed in the tournament but went on to make her third final table of the summer. She was unable to win her first bracelet but is already looking ahead for bigger things.
“Who knows, maybe I’ll go deep in the Main Event and really make history.”