2007 World Series: Katja Thater, Team PokerStars member, wins bracelet

There is a lot of controversy about whether Babe Ruth actually pointed to the centerfield wall in Game 3 of the 1932 World Series and subsequently bashed the ball over the far wall. Many fans and historians insist it happened and refuse to believe otherwise, while others just consider it another of baseball's tricky legends. Regardless, it is the stuff of baseball lore and the romantic among us choose to believe.

It's been 75 years since that happened. Here at the 2007 World Series (this one a poker event), Katja Thater called her shot last night. As she walked out of the Amazon Room at 3am, she paused long enough to recall her disappointing fifth place finish in the Ladies no-limit hold'em event. A fifth place this time, she said, was not an option in the $1,500 Razz event.

"One, two, or three," she said and strode confidently out into the hallway.

When Katja walked in today, I think there were a lot of people--myself included--who could see that she had changed her mind. Second or third wouldn't do either. She was going to win and there was no other option.

Early in the afternoon, as was reported in Men in the Men's, Katja was picking up pots right and left and plodding toward the chip lead. By the dinner break, she had it.

There were two stories working in the minds of the media today. First was the fast decline of Eskimo Clark's health at the final table. The second was the fact that two women were at final tables today and had a shot at bracelets. By the end of the day, Eskimo had survived to his fourth place finish and the other lady came in as the runner-up.

And so that left us with Katja Thater, the woman who started playing serious poker just eight years ago when she sat in for her sweetheart Jan Von Halle in a high stakes game. Since then, Katja has become a player with a talent all her own. After final tabling an EPT event this year, she went on to final table the Ladies Event at the 2007 World Series. And then she pounded her way through the Razz field to become the third Team PokerStars member to make at least two final tables in this year's Series. With Jan watching from a riser five feet above her, Katja spent the evening putting on a Razz clinic.

Once heads-up with a 4-1 chip lead, I noticed something amusing. Both Katja and Jan are very stoic Germans. No matter whether they have just busted out of an event or tripled up, the most emotion you'll see out of them is a shrug that says, "Well, how about that?"

However, with two players remaining, Jan's eyes lit up. He pressed on the rail hard enough that I feared he might crash down on the table. And when Katja got Larry St. jean all-in, Jan started his scramble toward the floor. By the time the final cards hit the table, Jan was pushing his way to Katja.

The look on his face was better than if he had just won a bracelet himself.

And then there was Katja. She stepped back from the table, took a deep breath, and then turned to a group of us assembled beside the table.

"Well, that's nice," she said.

I watched Jan dance around a little more, and then couldn't help asking, "Nice? You just won a World Series bracelet and all you've got for us is 'nice?'"

She shrugged. "Yah, nice."

Katja takes a deep breath after her win

There's a lot that happens when you win a bracelet here. There are a couple of ceremonies, a photo shoot, and a series of interviews and appearances. Through it all, Katja remained as stoic as she had been at the table all day long. When ESPN pressed her to talk about her role as a woman in poker, she politely rebuffed them. "It doesn't matter of you are black or white, young or old, man or woman. In poker, it's all the same."

I remembered she had been the same way in the Ladies Event. While other women broke down in tears when they survived an all-in, Katja never betrayed any emotion. Maybe, I thought, it was the nature of Razz. She spent three days working to make the worst possible hand and succeeded. She was, in a way, the winningest loser.

Katja receives her bracelet from WSOP Commissioner Jeffery Pollack

Katja gives an interview to ESPN

When it was all said and done, though, I saw Katja take a moment to herself. She had just defeated more than 300 other players and scored her first World Series victory for a cash of $132,653.

Although I don't have a picture, and though I wouldn't stake my bankroll on it, I swear...

I saw her wipe one tear from her eye.

Katja reluctantly shows off her new bracelet

Congratulations to Katja Thater for becoming the first member of Team PokerStars to win a bracelet in the 2007 World Series.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in