What separates the World Series of Poker from prestigious tournaments and events in other games and sports is that anyone can play. You’d never see the owner of your local tennis shop facing Roger Federer at Wimbledon or a recreational online chess player facing Magnus Carlsen in the World Chess Championships. But at the WSOP, you get players of all skill levels from around the world with a wide array of backgrounds and stories playing at the same table as all-time greats like Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu.
One of the many great stories to develop out of the 2021 World Series of Poker was the success of David and Amanda Botfeld in the Event #59 $1,000 Tag Team tournament. In a tournament that was mostly comprised of teams made up of friends and poker pros, the Botfelds made headlines for their unique father-daughter team dynamic. And it wasn’t only the fact that they were a father-daughter team that had people talking about them. They also played great and advanced to the final table, eventually securing a third-place finish for $49,512.
We caught up with Amanda and David Botfeld to talk a bit about their backgrounds in poker and their experience in the WSOP Tag Team event.
The student becomes the teacher
David Botfeld is a real estate developer that lives in Southern California. He started playing poker in high school, and eventually moved up to playing in Gardena card rooms back when the only game they were spreading was five card draw.
“I supported myself in college with a lot of poker, then pretty much stopped in the 80’s when my life and career required more attention,” David said. “I picked it up again after the [Chris] Moneymaker win.”
Amanda moved to Washington D.C. after college and started playing regularly out there. “She had a very expensive initial No-Limit Hold’em poker education,” David recalled. “So I came in to mostly drill her on the math of her decisions and pot odds, like how she has a 33% to complete her four-flush draw post flop, things like that.”
“I put together a set of cards to drill from and we worked on memorizing the right moves in specific situations,” Amanda added. “With my dad’s help, I was able to learn what the right decisions were in common spots and to build an understanding of how stack sizes, table position and table image dictate the right play.”
David pointed out that Amanda’s understanding of the game has far surpassed his own at this point. “She has come to understand GTO and other more advanced concepts like the math involved with tournament vs. cash game play better than I do now,” he admitted. “She has become a real student of the game, and recently I’ve been the one learning from her.”
Making the trip to the World Series of Poker
Amanda and David Botfeld have played some poker together at poker rooms in the Los Angeles area and on the occasional trip to Las Vegas together. But prior to this event, they had never played in the World Series of Poker and had never played in a tag-team event together.
The father and daughter team went into the tournament with the plan that Amanda would be the one doing most of the heavy-lifting. “I told her that she was the Super Bowl Quarterback and I was the back up, ready to go when needed,” David said. He played in a decent amount in relief on both Day 1 and Day 2, but at the final table it was mostly all Amanda.
Knowing she had her father’s full support allowed Amanda to play her best without having to worry about letting her teammate down. “Some people made big folds because they didn’t want to be responsible for busting their teammate,” Amanda explained. “They played scared. But I knew I had the full backing and blessing of my father, which was a huge advantage. I knew he would stand by all of my decisions so I was able to play without fear.”
David enjoyed the fact that he could his image as an older player to his advantage. “The contrast between her and I was great. She’s young, so everybody expects her to bluff. I’m older, so they don’t. When I sat down on Day 2 I pretty much bluffed every hand I played for several hours as I made no hands but knew they would have real trouble calling somebody like me in contrast to Amanda. I never had to show a hand.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing to the final table. “We really thought we were going to bust the first day as we were playing a real short stack for most of it.” David said. “We were planning where we would go after busting. By the time we made it to the final table, we felt like we were free-rolling.” The pair had started Day 2 with 50,000 chips before running their stack up to over 1 million chips.
Amanda hopes her story inspires others to play
Amanda published the book A Girl’s Guide to Poker in 2019 with the intention of bringing more people into the game. “I really wanted to be a great poker player like my dad, but couldn’t understand many of the how-to books,” Amanda said. “Not many were beginner-friendly. Since I was already working as a writer, I decided to write the poker book I wished I could have had. One that was friendly, funny, and easy-to-read.”
“Most people learn poker from their friend, their sibling, or, of course, their dad. Not everyone has a dad as cool as mine, so I set out to write a book other people could learn too. My goal has always been to make poker more welcoming, and I hope that our story inspires more parents and their kids to get into the game too.”
Featured Image Credit: Twitter – @amandabotfeld