Oui!  Oui!  Vanessa Hellebuyck Victorious!

The Lady is a Champ! Vanessa Hellebuyck Wins 2010 WSOP Ladies Championship

Parisian Piano Player Collects $192,132 in Prize Money

Hellebuyck Becomes Fifth French Gold Bracelet Winner in WSOP History

Another Big Turnout for 2010 Ladies Championship – 1,054 Entries
For the tournament portal page for this event, including official results, click HERE.


Vanessa Hellebuyck was the winner of the $1,000 buy-in Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship at the 2010 World Series of Poker.  This marked not only Hellebuyck’s first career WSOP gold bracelet victory, but was also her first time ever to cash in Las Vegas.  

Hellebuyck lives in Paris, France.  She is married and has two children.  She final tabled three major events on the European Poker Tour (EPT) held earlier this year -- in Berlin, San Remo, and Monaco.  Her best finish to this point had been a fifth-place showing in Monaco.  In addition to being a serious part-time poker player, Hellebuyck is also an accomplished pianist.  

Hellebuyck collected $192,132 for first place.  She also became only the second non-American ever to win the Ladies Championship.  The first was Svetlana Gromenkova from Russia, who won in 2008.  Hellebuyck also became the fifth gold bracelet winner in WSOP history from France.  The other four winners were David Benyamine, Patrick Bruel, Claude Cohen, and Gilbert Gross.

This year’s Ladies Championship attracted another strong turnout, as 1,054 players attended.  The tournament began with former WSOP gold bracelet winner Linda Johnson, the “First Lady of Poker,” welcoming the huge field and encouraging more women to participate in and enjoy the game of poker.  Johnson also mentioned the WSOP Ladies Championship held 30 years ago was a turning point in her life.  After cashing in that 1980 competition, Johnson decided to play poker professionally and went on to pioneer many important causes that improved the game for everyone – male and female alike.

Indeed, the World Series of Poker is proud to honor women in poker and will maintain the tradition of holding a Ladies Championship event, which dates back to 1977.


The $1,000 buy-in Ladies No-Limit Hold’em champion (Event #22) is Vanessa Hellebuyck from Paris, France.

Hellebuyck is 35-years-old.

Hellebuyck is married and has two children.  Her two daughters are age 8 and 2.

Hellebuyck comes from a family of accomplished musicians.  Everyone in her family plays at least one instrument.  She studied piano and became an accomplished player.

Hellebuyck primarily works as a freelance web designer.

Hellebuyck learned how to play poker from her brother.

This was Hellebuyck’s first time to play at the WSOP.

Hellebuyck collected $192,132 for first place.

According to official records, Vanessa Hellebuyck now has one win, one final table appearance, and one in-the-money finish at the WSOP.  Her career WSOP earnings now total $192,132.

Among those players who inspired Hellebuyck to take poker more seriously was Annette Obrestad, from Norway, who won the inaugural WSOP Europe championship in 2007.

Hellebuyck became only the second non-American ever to win the Ladies Championship.  The first was Svetlana Gromenkova from Russia, who won in 2008.  It should be noted that at the time of her victory, Gromenkova lived in New York City, meaning that, technically, Hellebuyck is the first international female champion.

Hellebuyck became the fifth gold bracelet winner in WSOP history from France.  The other French champions were Gilbert Gross (1988), Patrick Bruel (1998), Claude Cohen (1997), and David Benyamine (2008).


On what winning her first WSOP gold bracelet means:  “I am in the clouds now.”

On her expectations before coming to the WSOP for the first time:  “This is my first World Series of Poker.  It means the world to me.  I can’t describe it.  Cashing in Europe was very exciting for me.  But I don’t know what more I can do now, except maybe win another event that is not the Ladies event.  That is the next step.”

On having an enthusiastic group of supporters cheering for her at the final table:  “I heard them.  Everybody heard them.  It was so great to have them here.  They all came to support me.  So, it was so nice – especially since I played with many of them (in this tournament). I read all the messages on Facebook, and now to have so many here – it means a lot.”

On how her training as a pianist may have helped her become a better poker player:  “I think it is very important for me.  It helps me to concentrate.  I do not have good poker face.  So, I have to concentrate.  When I play the piano there is sometimes noise around, and I can concentrate on playing with the noise going around me.  So, it is the same in poker.  You get used to tuning out the distractions.”

On balancing her life at home as a mother with playing poker:  “I left my children back in Paris.  So when I do trips like this, I think I have more pressure than others because I do not want to be away from them.  So, I feel the need to bring something back for them.  Because I do not want this to just be about taking a holiday.  I need to bring something home (profit) because my daughters are everything and being away has to be worth it.”


The final table consisted of no former WSOP gold bracelet winners, which guaranteed a first-time champion.

Four different nations were represented at the final table -- Canada, Denmark, France, and the United States.

The final table began nine-handed.

Final table participants ranged in age from 31 to 59.

The runner up was Sidsel Boesen, from Copenhagen, Denmark.  She has previously cashed in poker tournaments in Las Vegas.  But this was her biggest poker score ever, worth $118,897 in prize money.  Boesen had been the chip leader when final table play began.  But she lost her edge late and was not able to overcome Hellebuyck’s decisive chip advantage when heads-up play began.  

The third-place finisher was Timmi DeRosa, from Los Angeles, CA.  DeRosa won the California State Women’s Poker Championship in 2006.  She is engaged to poker pro and WSOP gold bracelet winner Lee Watkinson.  DeRosa is committed to working on behalf of animal rights.  She works with Watkinson to save chimpanzees from medical experimentation.  DeRosa, played a short stack most of the way and turned a cold run of cards into a nice payout totaling $74,389.

The fourth-place finisher was Allison Whalen-Lannel from Atlanta, GA.  She is a creative director who made her first WSOP cash, worth $53,994.

The fifth-place finisher was Kami Chisholm, from San Francisco, CA.  She is a former university lecturer-turned poker pro.  She earned a PhD in filmmaking from UC-Santa Cruz.  Chisholm has a number of impressive tournament finishes.  Chisholm received a payout totaling $39,860.

The sixth-place finisher was Holly Hodge, from Windsor, Ontario (Canada).  She satellited her way into this event with an investment of only $150.  She turned that into $29,880.

The seventh-place finisher was La Sengphet, from Dallas, TX.  She was the chip leader at the end of the first of three playing days.  Sengphet cashed in this same event in 2006, when she finished 23rd.  Seventh place paid $22,728.

The eighth-place finisher was Bonnie Overfield, from East Wenatchee, WA.  She cashed at the WSOP two years ago.  She also previously made three final tables at a major tournament held in Oregon.  Overfield, who works as a financial analyst, added $17,520 to her poker portfolio.

The ninth-place finisher was Loren Watterworth, from Temple, TX.  She is a registered nurse.  She plays online poker and cashed for the first time at the WSOP.  Her final table appearance was worth $13,688.

The final table officially began at 3:10 pm and ended at 8:15 pm.  The final table clocked in at 5 hours and 5 minutes.

A huge gallery of supporters made this competition into one of the most exciting final tables of the year.  Each player had a separate cheering section.  But no player got quite as much applause as the winner, Vanessa Hellebuyck.  Whenever she won a pot of any size, the crowd hollered and chanted.  One American bystander remarked, “This is what the World Series of Poker is all about.  It should be fun.”


The top 117 finishers collected prize money.  Former WSOP gold bracelet finishers who cashed in this event included – Linda Johnson (31st), Svelana Gromenkova (33rd), and Carol Gardner (55th).

Gromenkova and Gardener were former Ladies event champions.  Gromenkova won in 2008.  Gardner won in 1983.

Linda Johnson is one of only 15 women in WSOP history who have won open events.  By open, this means open to all players – male and female.

Other notable women who cashed in this tournament included Evelyn Ng, Lacey Jones, Liv Boeree, and Maria Ho.

The defending champion was Lisa Hamilton, from Las Vegas, NV.  She entered this year’s tournament but did not cash.


Prior to the start of the tournament, poker ambassador Linda Johnson was selected as the guest host.  She made several remarks to the audience, numbering more than a thousand-strong.  The “First Lady of Poker,” welcomed the huge field and encouraged more women to participate in and enjoy the game of poker.  Johnson also mentioned the WSOP Ladies Championship held exactly thirty years ago was a major turning point in her life.  After cashing in that 1980 competition played at Binion’s Horseshoe, Johnson decided to leave her job and play poker professionally.  As the owner and editor of Card Player magazine and the owner of a successful poker-related business, as well as an author and television commentator, she went on to pioneer many important causes which improved the game for everyone – male and female alike.  Johnson was an inaugural inductee into the Women’s Poker Hall of Fame in 2008.

Last year’s attendance figure was 1,060 players.  This year, there were 1,056 players.

This year, the tournament starting day shifted from a Sunday to a Friday for the first time.  All other Ladies Championships had been held on a Sunday (starting day).  

This is the 850th gold bracelet event in World Series of Poker history.  Note:  This figure includes every official WSOP event played, including tournaments during the early years when there were no actual gold bracelets awarded.  It also includes the 11 gold bracelets awarded at WSOP Europe (to date).

The final table was played on the ESPN Main Stage.

The official WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s victory (or some hours later when the tournament runs past midnight).  The ceremony takes place inside The Pavilion, which is the expansive main tournament room hosting all noon starts this year.  The ceremony begins at the conclusion of the first break of the noon tournament, usually 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 are permitted by both public and members of the media.

Hellebuyck requested that the national anthem of France be played at her WSOP gold bracelet ceremony.


The Ladies World Poker Championship has been played every year at the WSOP since 1977.  This was the 33rd straight year of the competition.  During the first two decades, the ladies played Seven-Card Stud for the title.  In 2001, the game was changed to a mix of Hold’em and Stud.  The tournament has been a No-Limit Hold’em competition since 2005.

From 1977 through 2003, this event was traditionally played on Mother’s Day.  At the time, the WSOP took place during the months of April and May.  Accordingly, Mother’s Day Sunday was reserved for ladies.  This proved to be a conflict for many ladies who wanted to compete in the event, but who also had family commitments on that day.  So, the event was moved to a different day in 2004.  Since 2005, the WSOP has been played during the summer months.

Only three women have won multiple Ladies Poker Championships.  This elite list includes Barbara Enright, Nani Dollisson, 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.

Isaacs has cashed more times in this event that any other player, with nine in-the-money finishes.

One of the most famous persons ever to win a WSOP gold bracelet won this event in 2005 – Academy Award nominated actress Jennifer Tilly.

Previous Ladies Event Champions:

1977 -- Jackie McDaniels  
1978 -- Terry King
1979 -- Barbara Freer
1980 -- Deby Callihan  
1981 -- Ruth Godfrey  
1982 -- June Field
1983 -- Carolyn Gardner  
1984 -- Karen Wolfson
1985 -- Rose Pifer
1986 -- Barbara Enright
1987 -- Linda Ryke-Drucker
1988 -- Loretta Huber  
1989 -- Alma McClelland  
1990 -- Marie Gabert  
1991 -- Donna Ward
1992 -- Shari Flanzer
1993 -- Phyllis Kessler
1994 -- Barbara Enright
1995 -- Starla Brodie
1996 -- Susie Isaacs  
1997 -- Susie Isaacs  
1998 -- Mendy Commanda  
1999 -- Christina Pie  
2000 -- Nani Dollison
2001 -- Nani Dollison
2002 -- Catherine Brown
2003 -- Barb Rugolo
2004 -- Hung Doan
2005 -- Jennifer Tilly
2006 -- Mary Jones-Meyer
2007 -- Sally Boyer
2008 -- Svetlana Gromenkova
2009 -- Lisa Hamilton


The tournament was played over three consecutive days, from June 11-13, 2010.

The end of Day One chip leader was La Sengphet.  She ended up finishing seventh.

The chip leader at the start of the Final Table was Sidsel Boesen.  She ended up finishing second.

When Final Table play began, eventual winner Vanessa Hellebuyck was in seventh place.  She took the lead about two-thirds of the way through the competition and was the dominant force when play became three-handed.

The final hand of the tournament came when Vanessa Hellebuyck was dealt    .  She was heads-up against Sidsel Boesen, who was dealt    .  Hellebuyck had her rival covered by about a 5-to-1 margin.  The final board showed          .  That means Hellebuyck’s pair of fives ended up as the victorious hand.


Through the conclusion of Event #22 the 2010 WSOP has attracted 22,957 total entries; $40,137,020 in prize money has been awarded to winners.

Through the conclusion of the first 22 events, WSOP tournament attendance has increased over last year.  There were 21,945 entries at this same point in 2009.

Through the conclusion of the first 22 events, WSOP tournament prize money figures have declined slightly over last year.  At this same point in 2009, the sum of total prize money won was $43,343,671.

Through the conclusion of Event #22, the nationalities of winners have been:

United States (14)
Great Britain (3)
Canada (2)
Hungary (1)
New Zealand (1)
France (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #22, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has been:

United States (10)
Great Britain (3)
Vietnam (2)
Canada (2)
China (2)
Hungary (1)
New Zealand (1)
France (1)

Through the conclusion of Event #22, the ratio of professional poker players to semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets is as follows:

Professional Players (15):  Michael Chow, Michael Mizrachi, Praz Bansi, Josh Tieman, Peter Gelencser, James Dempsey, Men “the Master” Nguyen, Matt Matros, Yan R. Chen, Steve Gee, Carter Phillips, Jason DeWitt, Eric Buchman, David Baker, Richard Ashby

Semi-Pros (2):  Frank Kassela, Tex Barch

Amateurs (5):  Duc Pham, Aadam Daya, Pascal LeFrancois, Simon Watt, Vanessa Hellebuyck