By Sean Chaffin
The hoodie has become a bit of stereotype for those in the poker world, but players at the tables know the reason behind that particular clothing trend. Casinos and card rooms are usually cold.
And while a hoodie can comfortable during those long days at the tables, many can be a bit drab. Poker pro Jessica Dawley (pictured) tries to change that with her tournament hoodies and shirts.
“Today I’ve got on a cat unicorn riding another cat,” the 35-year-old poker pro says of the shirt she’s wearing. “I love color. I don’t think there’s enough of it in the world. For the longest time I would just wear something really drab, and so I started looking around and thought, ‘Man, no one wears any color.’ So I wear a lot of color. I usually have a lot of color in my hair too. Day 2 I’ll put some spray in it.”
She buys much of her attire from a website called intotheam.com, which specializes in unique and colorfully designed hoodies and T-shirts. While her hoodie wasn’t quite an example of her usual colorful dress, Dawley plans to change that if she makes Day 2 – and will have plenty to choose from.
“I have over 100 hoodies,” she notes.
At the WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble, where Dawley is one of the bounties in the field, Dawley was glad to see her chips a bit above the starting stack during the second break of the day.
“It’s going great,” she says. “I’ve got a really nice table draw, everyone’s very friendly, And unlike previous years where I super short straight away, I actually have above the starting stack – which is incredible. I feel so relaxed just being able to play a few hands. I know some people at my table too, so that’s nice to be able to have some conversation.”
bestbet feels like her home casino now. While living in Las Vegas a few years ago, her favorite place to play was at the Wynn. Now several of those staff members work at the bestbet.
“The Wynn was my home casino when I lived out there,” she says. “And it’s weird because then they all moved here, so it’s great. I get to see all of the people I’ve known for about 10 years.”
Growing up in Palmyra, Indiana, Dawley’s uncle taught her how to play poker at seven-years-old. She played volleyball and softball in high school and loved competition, but injuries shortened her athletic career. She gravitated more to poker and was the only girl in a regular Thursday night poker – regularly leaving with winnings.
After graduating, Dawley joined the Air National Guard in 2001 and was called up for active duty after 9/11. She served as an intelligence analyst in the Air Force and also mixed in some poker.
Dawley later earned business degrees in marketing and management. In 2008, she began playing poker full-time. This summer in Las Vegas, she won her first World Series of Poker bracelet in the Ladies Championship for $130,230.
Here in Jacksonville, Dawley’s had a couple nice runs. Last year, she was down to about three big blinds but came back to finish 11th for $25,333. She now has $747,000 in live tournament winnings.
But today Dawley’s not just another player in the field. Sending her to the rail earns someone an extra $2,500. She’s hoping that bounty becomes her own.
“It’s a lot of fun because you have a target on your back,” she says. “It makes people play a little bit more loose, so you’ve just got to hold on.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.
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