Valley Center, CA (February 19, 2007) – Clocking in at a lightening-fast one hour and 12 minutes, the final table of the Ladies Poker Championship at Harrah's Rincon was the fastest final table in the three-year history of the World Series of Poker Circuits. The previous quickest final table took place in 2005 at Harrah's New Orleans (1 hour and 20 minutes).
The winner was Linda Schmidt, from Moreno Valley, CA. She arrived third in chips at the final table, and then got into a heads-up confrontation with the chip leader. Ms. Schmidt proceeded to play extraordinary poker as the end draw near and won a most-deserving tournament victory. First place paid $8,085. She also received a gold pendant, presented to the ladies champion.
The Rincon Ladies Poker Championship attracted 147 entries. Each player posted a $200 buy-in, which created a total prize pool of $24,953. The top 18 finishers were paid. After 138 players had been eliminated, the final table began at 8:45 pm on the night of President's Day. It was over and done in slightly more than an hour. Seating at the final table and chip counts were as follows:
Seat 1: Kristi Blakey 28,500
Seat 2: Denise Molloy 24,800
Seat 3: Rose Stein 16,000
Seat 4: Michele Kish 4,900
Seat 5: Carolyn Stoll 14,700
Seat 6: Jane Haupt 4,600
Seat 7: Alice Hang 13,300
Seat 8: Tammy Brown 86,500
Seat 9: Linda Schmidt 28,100
The first player to exit was a 25-year-old graduate student from Virginia. Alice Hang, arrived low on chips and went out about 10 minutes into play. She plays regularly in cash games (mostly $20-40 limit). She also recently got engaged. Ms. Hang's payout for ninth place amounted to $499.
A few minutes later, local poker player Rose Stein was eliminated. The special education teacher from Valley Center, CA has won 25 local daily tournaments around the San Diego area. But her bid to win this tournament fell short. Rose Stein collected $749 for eighth place.
Next, it was Denise Molloy's turn to hit the rail. On her final hand of the night, she lost to a flush. Ms. Molloy, who finished in-the-money in two WSOP tournaments in Las Vegas last year, added a final table in this event to her poker resume. Interestingly, Ms. Molloy's sister made it to the final table in this same event last year. Denise Molloy was paid $998 for seventh place.
Michele Kish arrived at the final table with the lowest stack, by far. But she did manage to jump three steps up on the money ladder. The Canadian-born owner of a highly-successful cosmetics company finally went out in sixth place. She has also finished in the money in some daily tournaments in Las Vegas. Her payout amounted to $1,248.
Just a few hands later, Kristi Blakey went all-in and lost. The 21-year-old pro poker player from Glendora, CA who has made it to seven final tables in tournaments in less than a year, managed to collect $1,497 for fifth place.
The senior lady at the final table was Jane Haupt. The retiree from Mackinaw City, MI went out in fourth place. This was her third time to make it to a final table in a poker tournament. Her prize totaled $1,996.
A few hands later, Carolyn Stoll busted out. The director of human resources for a healthcare company finished in eighth place in the 2005 California State Poker Championship. Ms. Stoll took third place in this tournament, which netted a win of $2,495.
Heads-up play began with Tammy Brown holding a 2 to 1 chip lead over Linda Schmidt. Play actually lasted about 30 minutes – an eternity by this final table's standards. During heads-up play, Ms. Schmidt showed the depths of her tournament experience as she gradually clawed and scratched away most of Ms. Brown's chips. The key hand came when Brown made the big mistake of calling an all-in bet when holding second pair when Ms. Schmidt made a straight. Ms. Schmidt's 8-6 scooped the pot versus Ms. Brown's Q-9 when the final board showed K-9-7-10-5. A few hands later, Ms. Brown was eliminated.
The runner up was Tammy Brown, a school teacher from nearby Escondido, CA. Remarkably, it was the first time she had ever entered a live poker tournament. Second place paid $4,242.
As a career, Linda Schmidt is in logistic management. She has won four poker tournaments previously, and made it to 15 final tables. She also ran in the Los Angeles Marathon (race) in 2001.
by Nolan Dalla
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Tournament Director – Janis Sexton
Harrah's Rincon Poker Room Manager – Mike Adams