One of the most exciting stories to come out of the 2023 World Series of Poker Main Event was that of father-daughter duo David and Amanda Botfeld, who both managed to make it into the money. It was a beautiful encore to the Botfelds’ previous poker success, having finished third in the 2021 WSOP Tag Team event. Amanda’s involvement in the poker world over the last couple years, in particular working with WPT Global, has been well documented in poker media. In fact, she’s even a Cardplayer Lifestyle contributor! So we thought we’d take a slightly different angle on this year’s story and try to see things from David’s perspective as the proud papa. So, we reached out to hear how he experienced the pair’s twin deep runs in the most prestigious tournament in the world.
Surprisingly, David wasn’t sure if he’d even be playing in the Main Event at all! “I really was 50/50 on actually playing. Would have been fine with me to see Amanda make a deep run. But this was a ‘no regrets’ kind of decision: largest Main Event in history. I played two satellites and didn’t get through. Then I played in a $5/10 cash game the night before Day 2 and had an incredible run… I made just enough to register, so I strongly considered parlaying those winnings. It still seemed crazy, but Amanda and I do well together. And her mother gave me permission to take my best shot. So I did a late reg on Day 2 and started around 3 PM.”
When asked how he felt actually playing the Main Event, David’s answer was insightful: “I didn’t start very well as I went from 60K to 20K in just an hour of play and had work to do. I felt surprisingly comfortable. Seemed to me that everybody else had more fear on their faces than I did, so I played a more aggressive game. Players seemed to think an older guy never bluffs or 3-bets light, so I took advantage. Once we were close to the bubble, I just shut it all down until it burst. Folded J-J twice and A-K until we made sure we got through. Then it was pure joy.”
Once the bubble burst, David went to look for his daughter and they gave each other a big hug in a beautiful moment that captured the fascination of the poker world.
“That moment was just pure love and relief and joy. What a victory! The dream is alive and real, for BOTH of us!”
— Amanda Botfeld (@amandabotfeld) July 10, 2023
From the Felt to the Rail, Cash in Hand
David was eliminated on Day 4 and finished in 1,166th place, cashing for $17,500. Amanda advanced to Day 5 and eventually finished in 341st place, earning her personal-best result of $44,700.
When asked if he would play the Main Event again or if it was a one time thing, David’s reply was unequivocal: “I would play again. Thought I didn’t have what it really takes to play the fabled Main Event before entering, but I left thinking that I could into the future. Amanda is a pretty competent coach, and I actually learned quite a lot from her.”
It’s funny how sometimes the coach becomes the student. David had taught Amanda how to play poker 17 years ago. But who taught him to play? What was it that attracted him the most to poker in the beginning?
“My father was actually a national bridge champion, and his mother was the real card shark in the family. I played a lot of poker in high school and partially put myself through college playing in Gardena in the 70s. I really loved it all, but got a “real life” and didn’t play again until No Limit Hold’em started surging in popularity around 2000.”
As for whether David himself was a good poker teacher, he replied honestly: “Amanda actually lost a lot of money when she first started, and so we needed to get her familiar with the basics of how to play Texas Hold’em. She had a real aversion to the math at first as well, and so she made her own set of poker flash cards to begin to memorize the odds (33% chance of hitting a flush draw after the flop, things like that). I’m a numbers guy, so once she had basic competence in that arena, she could then became a real student of play and began to educate herself. These days often times I will text her to get her opinion about plays I’ve made, and her analysis is sharp and spot on.”
This is my dad teaching me how to play poker with lime green chips. 15 years later, we have made the final table together in the @wsop Tag Team Tournament.
— Amanda Botfeld (@amandabotfeld) November 2, 2021
In the world of poker, women have historically been in the minority. As such, we were interested in David’s take on how that might perhaps negatively affect Amanda at the tables. “I know she loves the game, and that is the most important thing. Many times I would go to poker clubs with her to make sure that nobody gave her a hard time, but at the end of the day she had to learn how to handle herself and deal with challenging situations. She will often nowadays surprise other players with her astute play, and they will then back off quickly when they recognize she is nobody to be taken lightly. I love that she can be a dangerous player, and making those astute plays is what she loves.”
As for Amanda’s Main Event run in particular, David was practically beside himself reflecting on the rollercoaster experience from his perspective. “First she loses Nadya Magnus‘ Twitter contest, only to then get put in by Scott Ball. At some point, she’s the chip leader… Then she finds herself on the ‘freeroll of all freerolls’ after Bill Perkins bought some of her action midway through the tournament. Meanwhile, we both end up cashing the darn thing. This whole experience has just been surreal and incredible.”
A Proud Poker Papa
Asked for his thoughts on Amanda’s growth as a player, writer, content creator, and teacher, David said that “For me, playing the Main Event is like your daughter playing at Wimbledon. Best in the world. How could I miss seeing her play? She is a great writer, too, and her social media presence is always entertaining. She also learned a lot by being a trainer/teacher at PokerPower, where she has worked with women to play better poker. They say many times the teacher is the one that learns the most, and she has become a very skilled coach in doing so. Her deep run was no accident, and I truly believe she has the intelligence and love for the game to be a force to be reckoned with in the future. I would love that more than anything.”
As for what it was like to experience that magical run to third place in the 2021 WSOP Tag Team Event together with his daughter, David responded that “The Tag Team is a little different than other tournaments. It’s great to be able to take a break when you need to. And it was an incredible experience to make a deep run together. Then again: who plays the Tag Team with their daughter/father? We were such an unusual commodity that we got people rooting for us. And they still are!”
Finally, we asked David about the Botfelds’ future in poker, specifically what other achievements he would like to experience together with Amanda now that they’ve both cashed in the Main Event together. In response, David said that “We know there is a certain magic that happens when we play together. I think at this point we are open to suggestion.”
One thing’s for sure, that whenever and wherever the Botfelds make their next magical run, the poker world will be watching and rooting them along!