Ex-opera singer from Utah turns into poker maestro in Vegas

Ex-opera singer from Utah turns into poker maestro in Vegas

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By RYAN NAKASHIMA Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A former opera singer gave the poker performance of her life by turning a $65 tournament win into a $262,077 payday and the World Series of Poker ladies event crown.

"I kind of went in there with the attitude this is just another performance for me," said Sally Boyer, a real estate business owner from Midway, Utah, who emerged from a record ladies-only field of 1,286 players to win a bracelet Tuesday. "My goal in this event was to cash (out). They paid 99 spots, and then when I got there, I thought I want to just keep playing and doing better."

The mezzo-soprano had played poker for about a year after her boyfriend encouraged her to try the game. Before the Sunday afternoon start, she attended a $1,699 two-day seminar by pros Annie Duke, Alex Outhred and ex-FBI agent Joe Navarro.

She apparently learned a lot.

"No lie, she was the one that was hyperfocused on every little thing," Outhred said Wednesday. "She was one of those who was just listening intently, feverishly taking notes."

After memorizing which cards to play in which spots and learning to carefully calculate her pot odds, Boyer also picked up on how to read opponents' nonverbal behaviors from Navarro, a professional trainer of interrogators.

"One of them in particular, when she was bluffing, would stand up and lean over the table more," Boyer said.

Her seat at the $1,000 buy-in event was hard to come by. Boyer had lost a tournament among her seminar attendees and her chance at one of 10 seats awarded to the finalists. Instead, before driving home, she used $65 to enter a daily tournament at the Golden Nugget and won the $1,100 top prize, enough for her buy-in.

In her final hand against Anne Heft, Heft pushed all-in before the flop with a king and 10, and Boyer called with a king and a deuce, winning only when she hit a miracle deuce for a pair on the river, or final card.

Boyer said she might use the winnings to buy a home in Las Vegas, to be closer to her mother who lives in Southern California, and to the poker tables.

"That's definitely in the cards, if you will," she said.

Duke, a female poker pro who does not play in the ladies-only tournaments, called her student's sudden win "fantastic," and said she hopes more women enter events alongside men.

"I want women playing in the open events, because I think that's where we belong," she said. "Because women are just as smart as men are."

The early World Series events began June 1, and the no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event requiring a $10,000 buy-in is slated to run from July 6 to the wee hours of July 18. ------ On the Net: World Series of Poker, www.worldseriesofpoker.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-06-13-07 1903MDT

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