Angela Jordison Continues to Thrive After Double POY Near-Miss

Despite getting pipped in both the GPI Female Player of the Year and Mid-Major Player of the Year races in 2022, Angela Jordison is already back on a winning track to start 2023.

Tim Fiorvanti
Jan 31, 2023
Angela Jordison racked up almost $600,000 in live tournament cashes in 2022.

Angela Jordison had every right to take a little time to reset at the start of 2023. After putting together a career year of tournament results in 2022, Jordison seemingly had both GPI Female Player of the Year and GPI Mid-Major Player of the Year locked up heading into the final major series of the year – the events surrounding (and including) the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas.

But then Stephen Song won one of the biggest qualifying events of the year at the mid-major level, the WPT Prime Championship. Along with $712,650 first place prize, Song won enough GPI points to take the lead in both the Mid-Major and overall POY races. Then Cherish Andrews caught fire in the final days of the WPT Wynn festival, final tabling three events including a first- and second-place finish, to pass Jordison in the GPI Female Player of the Year race.

Despite a 13th place finish in the event Andrews won, Jordison was suddenly on the outside looking in in both races. And in what was likely her final shot of the year, in late December Jordison final tabled an $1,100 MSPT event at the Venetian. First or second would’ve allowed a dramatic surge back to the top of the Mid-Major POY race, but her run ended just shy of that, in 5th.

“They had to run perfect to do it,” Jordison said of the late surges by Song and Andrews. “I didn’t think there was a chance I could actually lose both. I felt a little disappointment, but at the end of the day I was really proud of the year I had. I have never really fought for something that hard like that, and I didn’t even realize I had that much competitiveness in me to want to win so badly. I feel like I left everything on the felt.”

Despite the pair of runner-up POY finishes, Jordison finished the year with just shy of $600,000 in cashes, a tournament title in a WPT Legends of Poker side event and eight final tables, including third in a $1,000 WSOP event. So after her first lengthy stretch of traveling the tournament circuit in the United States, and falling agonizingly close to several significant awards, some of her friends were curious as to what was next.

“They’re like, ‘Are you going to try again in 2023? ‘And I said no, I’m going back to cash games,” Jordison said. “And I haven’t been back to cash games yet.”

To start 2023, Jordison traveled to Northern California and subsequently won her first WSOP Circuit ring in a $3,250 High Roller at Thunder Valley. She immediately rolled that momentum over into the $1,700 WSOPC main event, in which she finished fifth to cap off a $135,000+ trip.

Jordison has made herself a name for herself over the last few years, but her origins in poker go much farther back.

“I grew up in Portland, and then started playing little home games in my mid 20s,” Jordison recalled. “Just with friends, all the funny games across the kitchen table, very low stakes for dimes and quarters. But then I got into the bar business in the mid-2000s, and some people approached me about putting a poker room in that bar, so we allowed that and that kind of blew up.”

Getting involved in the bar poker scene in Oregon got Jordison involved in the legislative side of poker in the region as well, as she took part in advocating for the social gaming laws in the state. With some work with local law enforcement and the right framework in place, the community continued to grow.

There was also a burgeoning tournament scene centered around twice-annual events at Wildhorse Resort & Casino in Northeast Oregon. While Jordison’s poker of choice was Pot Limit Omaha cash games, the 2015 Poker Round Up series that April offered her a glimpse into the future as she pulled off something incredibly rare.

“This was local, and these were the biggest tournaments in the Northwest at that time – $100 or $200 -with large fields,” said Jordison. “Everybody went there and it was almost like a high school reunion.

“I showed up for the first tournament of the series, 500-something players, and I won it. These are one day [tournaments], big fields. They started at noon, and I finished the first one at three in the morning. At this point, the series didn’t allow much late registration – you had 20 minutes after the start to get registered. So the next day I showed up at noon again, and this time it was 450 players. So I played all day, and I won again.”

After outlasting fields of 985 total entries and banking over $29,000 in the process over two wins, some poker players might look to get some sleep and recover. But come 12 p.m. that third day, Jordison signed up for that tournament, too.

“The third one was a shootout, and at this point I am drained,” said Jordison. “But the next thing you know, I’m at the final table. I ended up having to play heads up against a really good player, it went on for a long time and we finished at 4am for that third win. It was crazy.

“Initially, I didn’t even realize that was going to be a big deal. I thought, ‘Oh, my friends at the game are gonna think this is really cool. I didn’t realize the odds of doing something like that, winning three times in a row.”

Determined to play the tournament game closest to her bread and butter, PLO8, Jordison played the Limit Omaha 8 or better tournament that fourth day. That’s when everything started blowing up, with messages from friends and media alike.

“I was really distracted, excited and exhausted, all at the same time,” Jordison said. “I played that tournament and made it halfway through the day. There’s this big conference room, probably 5 or 600 people and when I busted, the whole room stood up and started clapping and cheering for me. It was my best moment in poker. They all were so supportive of me, and everybody was cheering, and I started crying.”

Jordison went on to final table an $1,100 WPT Deepstacks event in Reno that August, but a couple of outlying exceptions, played a small to moderate schedule of $500 buy-ins and below over the next few years. The $5/$10 PLO8 cash games she frequented four days a week for over a decade were good, and Jordison didn’t feel much of a pull towards becoming a more frequent tournament player.

But a few circumstances aligned over the next few years that put Jordison on a path towards major tournament successes. She locked her first five-figure tournament score in three-and-a-half years in February 2019, and was seemingly ramping things up as that year came to a close.

“I started taking tournaments kind of serious in late 2018, early 2019,” said Jordison. “I started studying a little bit and hired my first coach – then the pandemic hit. I ended up starting to work with Faraz [Jaka], and at that point, that’s when I kind of took it to the next level.”

Jaka, WPT Season VIII Player of the Year who has five career WPT final tables and just shy of $7 million in lifetime live tournament earnings, launched Jaka Coaching while in the midst of reducing his tournament schedule. In a matter of months, Jordison locked up her biggest career win to date, a $39,570 victory in a $600 Venetian Deepstacks event.

“When she first started her coaching with me, I could tell she was super talented player, willing to be aggressive and put people in tough spots,” Jaka said. “But her aggression was a little bit all over the place, and she just needed someone to help her hone it in to add kind of a fundamental base behind these plays some nice clear thought processes. And as I was able to kind of teach her a lot of the heuristics that I’ve learned from running thousands of sims and finding patterns, as well as some things I’ve learned over my career. She was able to pick those things up very quickly and have these ‘Aha’ moments constantly.

“I’ve been coaching her for a little over a year and a half now, and it’s been super fun watching her progress as a player, and obviously have the results that she’s had,” Jaka said. “She’s a super hard worker – she really puts in the hours, and she also has a really good support team.”

That level of support system has been a major change in Jordison’s life. In addition to the Discord community she works with via Jaka Coaching, Jordison has also built up the kind of relationships that had long eluded her.

“I was kind of a lone wolf in poker for most of my career,” Jordison said. “When I was playing cash, all of my friends were men – no women were playing the stakes of Omaha that I was playing at the time. So I didn’t have a female group of friends in poker. But once I got out and actually played [more] tournaments, I started meeting people – and that’s when I met Jackie Burkhardt, who’s my absolute bestie.

“She and I decided to start studying tournaments together, and she’s just been the best gift that poker has given me,” Jordison said. “She is so supportive but holds me accountable and doesn’t let me make excuses. When I play a hand bad, we really break them down. And then in the last year, I’ve been to so many stops that now I’ve built this huge group of friends that I see at every stop that cheer me on, or we’ll study together, eat together. It’s turned [tournament poker] into a different experience for me.”

That support system was evident as Jordison continued to evolve as a player. She posted another career best tournament cash in December 2021, finishing fifth in an MSPT main event for $48,444. That was the prelude to what would become a career and life altering 2022. In June, Jordison made her first career WSOP final table in a 2-day, $1,000 No Limit Hold’em bracelet event.

She finished third, for $151,544, dwarfing all her previous results. But even in the afterglow of that success, and overwhelmingly positive feelings, Jordison’s perception of tournament poker changed after that night.

“When I bagged chips, I was excited, but the next day I show up and there’s still 200 people left,” Jordison said. “And the day was just a whirlwind because it seemed like before you know it, boom, you’re at a final table. I didn’t have that third day where you bag your chips and come back and your family flies in or, you know, all your friends show up. I was really focused and I had to focus even more because there were big ICM implications. I hadn’t studied ICM, because I found it boring, and all of a sudden, here I am in the biggest spot of my career and I’m having to learn it on the fly. That was an eye opener.”

“She basically said to me, ‘Hey, you know, I kind of always skipped this ICM stuff I thought was kind of boring. But I realized how important it is – I’m playing for all the money and I don’t know these spots.’” Jaka said. “And that’s a really common thing that happens to a lot of players. You just figure you don’t make final tables that often, so why would you focus time on that? But once you get there, you realize the point of learning all this stuff. If you don’t, you don’t know what to do when you’re playing for all the money.”

With lessons learned and a major swell to her bankroll, Jordison kept building on her confidence and overall game. She ran deep in the 2022 main event, finishing 175th. And it was around this time that her friends encouraged her to chase the GPI POY races. Traveling all over the United States netted Jordison seven more final tables and five-figure cashes over the rest of the year.

While those efforts came up just short, they were not in vain. Friendships were forged, and money was won. After Jordison’s performance at Thunder Valley, it seems a smart bet to keep an eye out for more results in the months to come.

Poker players will always have “what-ifs” that linger, though, no matter how gracious they are in defeat. So is there anything Jordison would have changed about her 2022 run?

“I couldn’t have done anything else unless I would have fired $10Ks, which was really not something I wanted to do,” Jordison said. “I treat poker like a business, and I turned profits. That’s my main concern, whether it’s cash games or tournaments – I feel my time is valuable, and I’m not going to spend my time doing things unless I can turn a profit. I wanted to stay true to myself, and I did.”