Svetlana Gromenkova is the 2008 World Series of Poker Ladies' No Limit Hold 'em World Champion after defeating the final table under the lights of the WSOP Live broadcast. Gromenkova was the last woman standing from a starting field of 1,190, one of the largest ladies-only poker tournaments in history.
Gromenkova, the most experienced player coming into the final table, began the day as the big stack and continued to chip up in the early stages without getting involved in any major confrontations. With seven players remaining Gromenkova hit a few speed bumps, doubling up two of her opponents when her pocket fours ran into pocket eights and her Ace-King lost a race to pocket Queens. Those two hands left Gromenkova in the middle of the pack, but she quickly moved up the leader-board again by consistently picking up the blinds and antes and letting the other players play big pots against each other.
Perhaps the hand of the tournament for Gromenkova came when play was four handed and she picked up pocket Aces on the button. Gromenkova raised from the button and chip leader Chris Priday reraised with Q-10 from the small blind. Gromenkova smooth called the reraise and when the flop came Queen high, Priday moved all-in. Gromenkova called and the double up gave her a massive chip lead: almost 60% of the chips on the table with four players remaining.
Priday, an accountant from Denver, was eliminated a few hands later followed immediately by Patty Till, a sales rep from Indiana who recently attended the World Series of Poker Academy Ladies Event. Had Till gone on to win the event it would have marked the second consecutive year that the winner was an academy attendee. Last year, Sally Anne Boyer attended the first every Ladies Only academy event and went on to win the bracelet. (For more information on WSOP Academy’s Main Event Primer click here).
Gromenkova was then left to face her final opponent, Californian poker pro Anh Le. Gromenkova had nearly a 3 to 2 chip lead when the heads-up match started. Only a few hands in fortunes were reversed when Le re-raised all-in before the flop with A-5 and spiked a 5, beating Gromenkova's A-K. But once again Gromenkova battled back, regaining the chip lead again without showing down a single hand. On the final hand of the tournament Gromenkova re-raised all-in before the flop with pocket Kings and got Le to call with A-6. The flop gave Le a straight draw to go with her over card, but the turn was King, leaving Le looking for a gut-shot straight to stay alive. The river was an Ace, but it was too little, too late for Le and she was eliminated in second place, mirroring her 2005 performance when she finished second to Jennifer Tilly.
The event also featured a strong charitable contingent. The Queens of Heart, a collection of female poker players playing and celebrities, raised over $14,000 for the Nevada Cancer Institute through donations and a percentage of their winnings. Members of this year’s team, the largest ever, included Linda Johnson, Barbara Enright, Susie Isaacs, Cheryl Hines, Camryn Manheim and Mindy McCready.
The win was Gromenkova's fourth cash at the WSOP, dating back to 2005. For complete a complete list of finishers from Event #15, head over to the WSOP Results page.