Courtney Kennedy is the winner of the 2016 Ladies World Poker Championship.
The 37-year-old poker
dealer from Detroit, MI won the $10,000/$1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em
tournament, which was played over three days and nights at the Rio in
$149,108 in prize money, making this the biggest win of her career.
Incredibly, this was her first time to cash in a WSOP event of any kind.
Kennedy won her
well-deserved victory by coming out on top at a final table which
included quite a challenging lineup. Amanda Musumeci, a WSOP Circuit
gold bracelet winner and runner up in a 2012 WSOP gold bracelet event
was present. So too was Wendy Freedman, another talented poker pro and
WSOP Circuit winner. However, Amanda Baker, another gold ring winner
from the Circuit would outlast them both and ultimately pose the biggest
threat to Kennedy.
“When we all cashed, I
was excited just to do that,” Kennedy said. “I cashed – so I’m good is
what I thought. Once again, I never saw this coming.”
Once Musumeci was
eliminated in fifth place, Kennedy opened up her lead on the remaining
competition. She held nearly a 3 to 1 chip lead over the other three
players and more than half the chips in play, and then coasted to
“I had to be careful
about having the chip lead. I didn’t want to get carried away,
especially with my rail cheering for me and all,” Kennedy said. “I just
wanted to play my strong game and pick my spots.”
After Natalia Breviglieri
busted out in fourth place, and Michelle Deng went out third, the
closing moment came when Kennedy scooped the final pot of the
tournament, against a highly-experienced player -- Amanda Baker, from
San Diego -- who finished as the runner up. Her consolation prize
amounted to $92,121.
The champion has been
playing poker most of her life. “I’ve had cards in my hand since I was
two years old,” Kennedy joked afterward. “I’m a home game player and I
deal at Motor City Casino in Detroit. This game has been a part of my
life for as long as I can remember.”
Kennedy works as a poker
dealer at Motor City Casino in Detroit. She plays in recreational games
as well as at local casinos in the Detroit area. This was the sixth
time Kennedy has played in the annual Ladies event. It was her first
time to cash. The win came at a great time, since many of her friends
and co-workers also decided to make the trip to Las Vegas to play in the
Ladies championship. Kennedy was surrounded by her supporters
afterward and cheered her victory.
This tourney attracted
819 entrants which created a prize pool totaling $745,200. The top 123
finishers collected prize money. Attendance increased for this event
over last year’s turnout, which totaled 795 entries.
This event actually had a
$10,000 buy-in. However, females were granted a $9,000 discount, which
meant they paid $1,000 to enter. One male entered the tournament,
paying the full $10,000 entry fee. Since he didn’t cash, all that money
went into the prize pool.
Aside from the winner, here’s a brief report of the other top finishers who made the final table:
Amanda Baker, from San Diego, CA has enjoyed considerable success in
WSOP events over the years. This marked her 16th time to cash and was
her biggest cash win, which paid $92,121. Baker now has 16 cashes in
series events, in addition to a WSOP Circuit gold ring win back in 2006.
Michelle Deng (a.k.a. Xiu Deng) has enjoyed a big summer, making this
final table along with a ninth-place finish in the 21,000-player field
known as Colossus II. Deng collected $64,401 and heads into the final
week of the series with $150K in winnings, so far.
Natalia Breviglieri, a poker pro from Great Britain made a deep run,
finishing fourth. This was her first time to cash at the WSOP. She
Fifth Place: Amanda
Musumeci, from Philadelphia was aiming for her first gold bracelet
victory, and came close to the prize. However, the runner up in a
$1,500 NLHE tourney four years ago, ended up having to settle for a
payout totaling $32,889.
Shelly Johnson-Ochoa, from Tucson, AZ cashed for the first time at the
WSOP with this sixth-place finisher. She received $24,037.
Wendy Freedman, from Las Vegas was another player seemingly due to win a
gold bracelet with the talent to pull it off. However, Freedman busted
out fairly early and accepted $17,837 for her seventh place finish. Freedman,
a WSOP Circuit gold ring winner (2013 at the Bicycle Casino in Los
Angeles), cashed for the seventh time at the summer series.
Nicole Schwartz, from Wilmington, Delaware made a nice run and went out
in eighth place. This was her first time to cash at the WSOP.
Schwartz pocketed $13,443.
Yaxi Zhu, from Shanghai, China rounded out the final table as the
ninth-place finisher. She now plays poker full-time as a
PokerStars-sponsored pro. Zhu earned $10,292.
This was the 65th official event on this year’s schedule. This leaves 4 gold bracelet events still to go at the 2016 WSOP.