Thea produces a winning double
THEA Mapes will fly to Las Vegas twice next year, once as Australia Pro Poker League champion and once for her own wedding.
Last Sunday, Ms Mapes won free entry to the World Series of Poker at Las Vegas in the United States next July when she won the national title at Cessnock, where she was last player standing in a field of 100.
She won the state championship in September at the Warwick RSL and was one of 10 players from the Darling Downs who competed in the nationals.
When she arrived in Cessnock, it was just a dream to win the national title and the trip to Las Vegas. She started playing at midday and finished at 9.30pm.
"We had three short breaks of about one hour in total," Ms Mapes said.
"It was mentally tiring, particularly as we flew from Brisbane on a 6.30am flight that morning and hired a car from Newcastle to drive one hour to Cessnock."
As players were eliminated and Ms Mapes and fellow Warwick player Paul Spiteri were on the final table of 10, she admits to getting nervous.
"At one stage on the final table, I was low on chips but managed to fight my way back," she said.
"When it came to heads up (two left), I had around $2.3 million in chips but still never ever dreamed I would get there. I have hardly slept since, it is so exciting."
She has been to Las Vegas once and was amazed by the enormous amount of money spent in the casinos.
The World Series of Poker will be held at the Rio Casino and Ms Mapes will be one of 8500 players.
Ms Mapes and fiance Rob Francis, a fellow poker player, will be joined by 20 family and friends for their wedding in Las Vegas in June.
"We have had the wedding planned since August last year, so now we will be coming home after the wedding and then going back."