Going all-in

New Braunfels resident Annette Dunning finished in 17th place overall during the 2019 World Series of Poker while playing in the ladies no-limit hold ’em championship in Las Vegas. Dunning is pictured at a table with her chip stack.

From a young age, Annette Dunning was taught when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em.

As a teenager, she had already learned the game of poker and would sometimes join her best friend’s uncles for their nickel-and-dime games in the garage. Perhaps that’s why she felt so at home among some of the top players on the planet at this year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas.

Dunning, a New Braunfels resident, entered into the ladies no-limit hold ’em championship and finished in 17th place overall, which brought a purse of $5,858. It was the second year in a row in which Dunning has competed in the WSOP, and she said the experience gained in 2018 proved invaluable this time around.

“Last year, I went out about 20 [places] before the money and I had enough to where I should’ve made the money, but not having a lot of experience with tournaments, I didn’t manage my money well enough,” Dunning said. “Poker has changed a lot in the last 10 years. There’s a lot of odds and ranges and percentages. I was ready this time for sure.”

Dunning’s 2019 run came to an end when her pocket sevens ran into pocket kings. The flop, turn and river offered no further help, but Dunning still walked away with a solid chunk of change and a renewed focus on tournament play.

“It definitely lit a little fire,” Dunning said. “I love the tournaments. It definitely is more of my game. I have a lot of patience because I have five kids. I think God’s primed me for this in my life. Long nights? No problem. Not much sleep? No problem.”

Dunning, who is originally from California, said she wasn’t much of a tournament player until recently. She said she and her sister would occasionally go to the local casino for Wednesday night games, but she mostly stayed away from the more notable events.

“I’ve played some tournaments in the last 10 years, but I can count them on my fingers,” Dunning said.

In 2006, Dunning’s mother passed away, which led to her first trip to the WSOP in Las Vegas. She and her sister made the initial trek, which only seemed fitting to the two siblings.

“My mom was like the gambler in the family, so we kind of did it as a tribute to mom,” Dunning said.

Now that Dunning has finished in the money on the world’s biggest stage, she’s already beginning to prepare for her 2020 run at the WSOP.

“In a couple weeks we’re going to Oklahoma,” Dunning said. “I didn’t even know we had those tournaments available so close.”

Once word began to spread around New Braunfels of Dunning’s feat, her husband Chris was approached by a friend and told of another associate’s wish to start up a new poker league right here in town. Soon, Dunning won’t even have to leave the city limits to get a taste of friendly competition.

“It’s definitely opened up some doors,” Dunning said of her WSOP performance.

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