Courtney Hopper was a second-grade substitute teacher before she took on playing poker full time. The math (and money) of it all is partly what drew her to take up the game.
The World Poker Tour is a traveling tournament series attracting players from all over the world to try their hands at Texas Hold 'em, a poker game in which players wager bets between hands of cards and eliminate each other to take home winnings. Players are dealt two “hole cards,” and await showings of the “flop,” “turn” and “river” cards, with rounds of betting in between.
Hopper, a 29-year-old mother of one daughter from Aubrey, put down the $240 buy-in payment for a World Poker Tour event at Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Oklahoma, on July 23, something she turned into about $10,000 by 4 a.m. the next day.
She said she started playing poker online a few years ago, but it wasn’t until after 2011, and especially after government crackdowns on online gambling sites, that she started playing live, face-to-face Hold 'em on the weekends at Choctaw Casino Resort and at WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, between full-time teaching weekdays.
“It did not take long to figure out that I would rather play cards than teach,” Hopper said, adding she still jumps on a substitute teaching gig occasionally. “I was making more playing poker on the weekends than I was teaching five days a week.”
All of her years of playing poker led up to those two nights in July, when she won $10,000 after going all in on the flop of her final hand. She was dealt pocket-aces, or two aces at once, and with a flop showing an 8, 2 and 2, she decided it was time to end it. Her opponent, also going-all in, showed her hole cards: pocket 10s.
The turn (another ace) and the river (another 8) sealed the deal and, after about 15 hours of playing cards, Hopper went home a champion of her all-women event.
“I felt like I was playing good and I was running good,” she said.
Having won poker tournaments before, she says sometimes people ask her for tips on what to do when heading to the casinos. Her advice?
“Patience and a little good luck.”
KYLE MARTIN can be reached at 940-566-6897.