Susie Isaacs – Ladies Legend
The 1998 WSOP – The Year of Dreams
By: Derrick Oliver-Dewan
The World Series of Poker has produced a number of remarkable stories of fate over the years and two of the best ever come from the 1998 main event. Perhaps, the most famous anecdote comes from Mike Matusow and his book Checkraising the Devil, when he opted not to play the world championship that year because he had a dream ‘The Prince of Poker’ Scotty Nguyen would win the event and the $1 million that went with it. Confident his vision was accurate, Matusow gave half his buy-in, $5000, to Nguyen so that he could play instead. His friends and family thought he was ‘Nuts’ but ‘The Mouth’ was confident, maintaining to this day he never doubted his decision for a second, not once, because he had a dream and saw the outcome vividly. The rest, as they say, is history; Nguyen defeated Florida’s Kevin McBride heads-up to win, uttering one of the most famous quotes in poker in the process, “You call, it’s gonna be all over baby.” McBride did call and it was over and Matusow collected $333,333, his agreed to share for helping Nguyen enter the tournament.
Well, 1998 produced another phenomenal story involving one of the most recognizable names in women’s poker, ladies legend Susie Isaacs. Isaacs, from Nashville, Tennessee, started battling the boys at the World Series of Poker in 1986 and has certainly left her mark; 15 money finishes including back-to-back Ladies Champinships in 1996 and 1997. A year later, she would come oh so close to joining Poker Hall of Famer Barbara Enright as the only woman to ever reach the main event final table. Enright finished 5th three years earlier and might have won the thing if her pocket 8’s weren’t outdrawn by an opponent’s 6,3 offsuit. Isaacs bubbled the final table in ’98 finishing 10th but she wasn’t even supposed to be playing, as she told us on High Roller Radio:
“I had been studying No Limit Hold’em for a number of years and felt like I was ready for the main event. Back in those days, they had a number of super satellites where a number of players would qualify for the tournament. I had been struggling to qualify and I had just enough money left for a single-table satellite and I had to win that just to get into the super satellite. Well, I came up against this yahoo fella who was riding a rush and on a winning streak. You can avoid guys like that but not when you’re heads-up against them and sure enough he ran an under quality hand against my Ace Queen and busted me.
“So, I was headed to the parking lot, resigned to the fact I wouldn’t be playing the main event, when out of nowhere I heard my name being called. Low and behold it was the guy who just busted me and I was a bit annoyed because he just took my last buy-in. His name was Bill Story and he asked me if I was playng that night’s super-satellite. I, of course, said ‘No’ and pointed out that he had ruined my chances. Then he says, ‘I had a dream last week that you made the money n the main event and I want to put you into tonight’s super and give you another bullet as well.’ Sure enough I won the seat! Mr. Story said he wasn’t surprised and, in fact, he and his wife flew in from Oklahoma to cheer me on the final day of the world championship in 1998.”
An incredible story from an incredible player. “I am a student of the game and I try to never stop learning ,” says Isaacs, who admits things have changed drastically from her heyday. “Compared to today, poker was minute back then. When I finished 10th there were just 376 entries.”
Regarding her back-to-back WSOP Ladies titles, she shrugs off any comaprisons to Johnny Moss, Stu Ungar or Doyle Brunson, who all captured world championships back-to-back. “I have made it in the poker world, however your comparison is way off base; my two bracelets are in the Ladies event and, much like the seniors event, that doesn’t really factor into the bracelet race because not everyone can play them.”
Isaacs is still a regular at the RIO come June and July and still plays at a high calibre. She’s cashed a few times in recent years but admits the older she gets the tougher it gets. “The events nowadays are three or four days long and on Day 1 and Day 2 I fare well. I am very tired by Day 3.”
Watch out for Susie Isaacs in 2014!
Here is the article as it appeared in Poker Player Newspaper