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Event #17, $1,000 Ladies World Championship, Final Report
The 2009 World Series of Poker Ladies Poker Championship is Lisa Hamilton, from Las Vegas, NV.
Hamilton is originally from Hawaii. She has been living in Las Vegas for about 12 years.
Hamilton does not describe herself as a “professional poker player.” Yet she spends many hours playing poker (in big cash games). She explained she is shy and does not want to boast about playing poker for a living. Hamilton also spends some of her time helping with the family business, which is in clothing retail.
This was only the second WSOP event Hamilton has played. She entered an event a few years ago, but was eliminated early. Hence, this was her first WSOP cash, which was an outright victory.
Hamilton is a high-stakes cash-game player. She regularly sits in the upper strata of No-Limit games, from $10-20 up to $50-100 blinds, a big game by any standard. She rarely plays in poker tournaments.
“I do not even play in tournaments,” Hamilton said. “That’s why everyone is teasing me (after I won).”
Hamilton stated in the previous WSOP event she entered, she busted out just a few minutes into play. She vowed never to play in a tournament again. However, Hamilton came to this WSOP with a friend to watch her play and hang out with her during breaks. She decided to enter the tournament at the last minute.
“I entered at the last minute,” Hamilton said. “I kept telling my friend, ‘I’m not playing!’ I am not playing in this event! I decided to play and I don’t even know how I made it this far. I’m shocked!”
“I’m not used to being around so many girls,” Hamilton said, in reference to the fact she usually sits with male opponents in most of her high-stakes cash games.
Hamilton collected $195,390 for first place. She was also awarded her first WSOP gold bracelet.
Hamilton had no specific plans for the prize money she won.
Hamilton was cheered on to victory by about a dozen friends, including many players who know her from cash games.
As for future tournament plans, Hamilton stated that she plans to play only the WSOP Main Event.
According to the official records, Hamilton now has 1 win, 1 final table appearance, and 1 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP. This was her first time to cash.
The Final Table
The final table contained no former WSOP gold bracelet winners. This was the seventh of 18 finales held so far this year with no former winners -- which guaranteed a first-time champion.
This was the first final table this year with no players aged in their 20s. Yesterday’s finale (Event 15) was quite possibly the youngest final table composition in WSOP history, with an average age of 24. The ages for the ladies ranged from 31 to 53.
The runner up was Lori Bender, from Houston, TX. She graduated from the FBI National Academy and is now a captain in the Houston Police Department.
The third-place finisher was Mari Lou Morelli, from Long Beach, CA. Two years ago, she won the Deep Stack Extravaganza which paid $93,000, held at the Venetian.
The fourth-place finisher was Angel Pedroza, from Turlock, CA. She works as a bartender.
The fifth-place finisher was Kimberly Cunningham, from Pearland, TX. She is the daughter of a professional pool player. Cunningham is also a homemaker and mother of two children.
The sixth-place finisher was Kim Rios, from San Lorenzo, CA. She won her buy-in into the tournament via the Ladies in Poker Series (LIPS), which supports women in the game of poker.
The seventh-place finisher was Lisa Parsons, from Las Vegas, NV. She finished 76th in last year’s WSOP Main Event. She also took 33rd place in the 2007 Ladies Poker Championship.
The eighth-place finisher was Dawn Thomas, from Southgate, Michigan.
The ninth-place finisher was Lisa Santy, from El Segundo, CA.
The defending champion from 2008 was Svetlana Gromenkova, from New York, NY. She cashed again this year, finishing in 57th place.
Other In-the-Money Finishers
Susie Isaacs in-the-money finish in this event means she has now cashed nine times in the Ladies Poker Championship, more than any player in history.
Odds and Ends
The tournament was played over three consecutive days. On Day Three, the final table was dealt out on ESPN’s secondary stage. The feature table, located nearby, hosted the other finale played on the same day, which was the World Championship of Omaha High-Low Split. Most days at the WSOP this year will include two final tables.
The Ladies World Poker Championship has been played every year at the WSOP since 1977. This was the 32nd straight year of the competition. During the first two decades, the ladies played Seven-Card Stud for the title. In 2001, the format was changed to Hold'em.
Only two women have won multiple Ladies Poker World Championships. This short list includes Barbara Enright and Susie Isaacs. Isaacs holds another record in this event, which will be difficult to match. She cashed five out of six years in this competition between 1991 and 1997.
The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory. The ceremony takes place on at center stage of the main tournament room and begins during the break of the noon tournament. The ceremony usually starts around 2:20 pm. The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played. The entire presentation is open to public and media. Video and photography is permitted by both media and the public.
The $1,000 buy-in Ladies Poker World Championship attracted 1,060 entries. The total prize pool amounted to $964,600. The top 117 finishers collected prize money.
This was the fourth consecutive year that attendance in the ladies championship has surpassed one-thousand players.
The chip leader at the end of Day One was Tamara Tibbles, from Spokane, WA. She ended up finishing 15th.
Hamilton endured at least one scary moment late in the tournament. At the final table, she was all-in holding pocket kings against the (then) chip leader, Angel Pedroza, who had A-J suited. An ace flopped, but so did a king – giving Hamilton a set of kings. The set won. That was the critical hand which propelled her to victory.
When heads-up play began, Hamilton had about a 3 to 1 chip advantage over Lori Bender.
The final hand of the tournament came when Hamilton was dealt Q-8 versus Bender, holding 9-8. The flop came J-8-3. After a blank four on the turn, Bebder check-raised all-in and Hamilton made the call. Hamilton tables second pair with the better kicker, which dragged the pot after a blank fell on the river.
This was the quickest final table of the 2009 WSOP, to date. It clocked in as less than three hours.
The tournament officially began on Saturday, June 7th, at 12 noon. The tournament officially ended on Tuesday, June 9, 5:10 pm.
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