Bewildering, Magnificent, Exciting, Appalling and Thrilling Victory -- by
is Crowned Poker’s Queen
Wins 2011 Ladies Poker World Championship
Rakes-In $192,344 Pot
Full House at
the 2011 WSOP -- Tournament Attendance Currently on a Record Pace
Bracelets Won – Five More Events Still to Go
that is bewildering, magnificent,
exciting, appalling and thrilling
about the contemporary poker scene was on full display in the 2011 World Series
of Poker Ladies No-Limit Hold’em World Championship, which concluded today at the Rio in
through the entire gambit of adjectives, shall we?
World Poker Championship is much more than just a poker tournament. It’s
a celebration of women in the game of poker. The WSOP brings together
more women than any other poker event or attraction in the world.
though millions of women all over the globe now play poker, the odd fact
remains that men continue to dominate tournament poker -- and the WSOP in particular
-- in terms of sheer participation.
According to the most recent
estimate, women make up about 4 percent of all open tournament fields at this
year’s WSOP. That’s a bewildering statistic, since women make up slightly
more than half of the general population. The percentage of women in most
card rooms is certainly much higher than just 4 percent. There are many
reasons fewer women than men play in major poker tournaments, and we’ll leave
it for others to debate and try and explain this complex issue. But the
one thing just about everyone agrees on is more effort needs to be made to
attract more women into the game.
The WSOP has been doing its
share to support women in poker for the past 34 years. In fact, the WSOP
hosted the very first ladies poker event in history. What later became
known as the Ladies World Poker Championship, debuted in 1977. The
competition has been an annual fixture on the official schedule ever since.
It’s been 34
years since that memorable moment in our poker history. Sadly, through
the years, many female champions and pioneers of the game have been
And so, July
1, 2011 officially became “Women’s Day.” The WSOP rolled out the red
carpet for all ladies for the first-ever Women’s Parade of Poker Champions.
Prior to the start to the
three-day tournament, Women in Poker Hall of Fame inductee Jan Fisher emceed a
highly-anticipated parade of former female WSOP bracelet winners in front of
more than a thousand other ladies in the audience who were eager to show their
reverence to all those who came before them and blazed a bold new path for all
women in the game, including various times in history when things were not
always so easy for women in poker.
One by one, 16 former champions
were introduced. Most of these gold bracelet winners had never received
any public recognition before. There were a lot of smiles and
cheers. There were also more than a few hugs and tears.
Hellebuyck, the defending champion from last year’s Ladies Championship was the
first player introduced to the cheering audience. She was followed onto
the stage by Marsha Waggoner, Vanessa Selbst, Jennifer Harman, Svetlana
Gromenkova, Mary Jones, Jennifer Tilly, Cyndy Violette, Maria Stern, Linda
Johnson, Susie Isaacs, Barbara Enright, Karen Wolfson, June Field and finally
-- Deby Callihan, the 1980 Ladies Poker Champion.
portrait was the most accomplished collection of women in poker ever assembled.
This year’s Ladies No-Limit Hold’em World
with 1,055 entrants. Over three days, the field was gradually reduced
until players reached the money during the middle of Day Two. The top 117
finishers were paid. By the start of Day Three, only 15 players remained
in contention for the world championship title.
The final table began during a
late Sunday afternoon with nine players assembled around a stage that can best
be described as a bandbox trying to conceal a tuba. As the number of
ladies in the tournament slowly declined one-by-one, interest and excitement in
the final outcome began to build.
By the time the final table was
reached, the gallery of spectators was packed 10-12 deep around the rail.
No one could remember a larger crowd of spectators ever assembled before for
any ladies event. There were some highly unusual circumstances why this
was so, which do not merit further comment. But when guest announcer and
high-stakes pro Kristy Gazes began introducing the nine finalists, it was
impossible to see the action due to the enormous crowd size that was close to a
One of the nine players
assembled around the final table was on the verge of immortality. Their
names were as follows -- Carol Tomlinson, Valerie McColligan, Katherine Stahl,
Jennifer Cowan, Genevieve Gloutnez, Peg Ledman, J. Epstein, Karina Jett and
appreciation for what the WSOP offers to all women and the ceaseless devotion
of huge numbers of extraordinary ladies who travel to Las Vegas from all over
the world to play in the Ladies Championship
each year, there were and are a few misfits.
To make things perfectly clear,
no gentlemen participated in this year’s Ladies Championship. No gentlemen
would dare play in an event designed especially for ladies, to be played
exclusively by ladies, which presumably allows one very special woman her
moment to shine in front of the entire poker universe.
Sadly, some people seek to steal
that beam of luminosity and seize the spotlight for themselves.
Fortunately, most people
understand that when this unfortunately happens, the shining light intended for
a female champion only serves to illuminate the darker side of those who just
don’t get it – and probably never will.
And so it
was. The WSOP had a potentially perplexing disaster averted about 90
minutes into the finale. Once
the tournament played down to the final eight players, a bona fide female
champion for 2011 was guaranteed.
The heads-up match between Marsha Wolak and Karina Jett was a match of two winners.
It was everything a women's poker championship should be. Alas, it was
everything any WSOP should ever hope to be -- a fair competition between two
fiercely competitive champions in their own right, hoping to achieve a status
attainable only to a single victor.
In the end, Wolak defeated
Jett. But you couldn't tell it by looking at either player. Indeed,
Jett -- a woman who has paid more than her fair share of dues in this game over
the last decade and who has suffered unspeakable tragedy in her personal life
in the past year -- had every conceivable reason to hold her head high.
Eight-months along in what will inevitably be the delivery of the youngest
"player" ever to appear at a WSOP final table, Jett was standing there
with a congratulatory hug and handshake for the champion, with her own beaming
radiance on full display. It was her shining moment, as well.
every last poker chip in a tournament that began three days earlier with the
most accomplished women in poker history leading the charge, belonged to one
special person and the new champion -- a former real estate investor-turned
poker pro from Sarasota, FL, named Marsha Wolak.
collected $192,344 in prize money for first place, but winning the gold
bracelet was all that seemed to matter from the winner's reaction. Marsha
Wolak is crowned as the official 2011 Ladies World Poker Champion.
all the interesting and unusual things that happened at this year's Ladies
Championship, perhaps one more adjective was left off the list that best
describes what this event means for the ladies who are now its
caretakers. It's the word that magnifies the importance of this
tournament as a tradition and a magnet for what will hopefully be more women
coming into poker in the future years. And, that word is.....EVERYTHING.
For a comprehensive recap of Event
#53, please visit the WSOP.com tournament portal page HERE.
EVENT #53 CHAMPION – MARSHA WOLAK
World Series of Poker $1,000 buy-in Ladies No-Limit Hold’em World Championship is
Marsha Wolak, from Sarasota, FL.
born in Rock Island, IL.
a B.A. from the University of Arizona.
Wolak is married
and has two children.
in an international motorcycle club called Diva Angels, which is for female
motorcycle enthusiasts. The organization
also raises money for several charities.
Wolak was a
real estate investor for several years. She was a victim of the real estate downturn
that hit Florida (and other parts of the country) starting two years ago. While
exploring other options as far as what to pursue next, Wolak started to play
poker more frequently. When Florida
expanded legal poker to several card rooms throughout the state and raised
betting limits, Wolak was able to take advantage of her dedication to the game
and willingness to study and improve her game.
She has been a winning player for the past two years.
the third year Wolak has attended the WSOP.
She had one previous cash up until this victory.
attended the WSOP Ladies Academy two years ago.
She credits much of the instruction from the Academy for improving her
game and enabling her to enter WSOP tournaments with more confidence.
victory in this tournament, Wolak collected $192,344 for first place.
official records, Wolak now has 1 win, 1 final table appearance and 2
in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.
currently has $194,249 in career WSOP winnings.
Wolak is to be
classified as a professional poker player (in WSOP records and stats). She has been playing full-time for about two
On her feelings immediately after her victory:
“It was so
much fun. It’s a dream come true. You start out thinking it would be so much
fun and you dream about this. It’s
really nice to say at the end of each day, ‘I’m still here.’ That was my goal was to make it to the end of
On the third day of play and final
“I came in
with a short stack today. But I had some
luck. I also have a wonderful group of
friends who are so supportive.”
On this tournament not being
exclusively comprised of ladies:
“Last year, I
came here and I was knocked out by (player’s name omitted). He was dressed up as a woman and was wearing
lipstick. He was kind of making fun of
us. I even had pocket aces and was
all-in pre-flop against (player’s name omitted), who had pocket nines. I don’t have to tell you what happened. So, last year was not the best
experience. I thought about not coming
and not playing this year because it’s not all ladies. Then, I decided that it could not have gone
worse than it did last year, so I figured things could only get better.”
What do you think of the WSOP gold
THE FINAL TABLE
final table was comprised of the top nine finishers.
table contained no former gold bracelet winners.
nations were represented at the final table – Canada (1 player) and the United
States (7 players).
The runner up
was popular poker pro Karina Jett, who enjoyed her best WSOP finish ever in
this tournament. She collected $119,010
in prize money for second place.
play began Sunday at 3:30 p.m. Played
concluded 7 hours later (playing time wise) at 9:30 p.m.
table was played on ESPN’s secondary stage.
streamed live over WSOP.com. Viewers can
tune in and watch most of this year’s final tables. Although hole cards are not shown, viewers
can follow an overhead camera as well as a pan-shot of the table. The floor announcer provides an official
account of the action.
OTHER IN-THE-MONEY FINISHERS
The top 117
finishers collected prize money.
champions cashed this year.
are to be included in all official WSOP records.
ODDS AND ENDS
attracted 1,055 entries. Attendance was
up by a razor-thin margin over last year, when there were 1,054 entries.
This is the 945th
gold bracelet awarded in World Series of Poker history. This figure includes every official WSOP
event ever played, including tournaments during the early years when there were
no actual gold bracelets awarded. It
also includes the 16 gold bracelets awarded to date at WSOP Europe (2007-2010). Moreover for the first time ever, one gold
bracelet was awarded for this year’s winner of the WSOP Circuit National
WSOP gold bracelet ceremony takes place on the day following the winner’s
victory (or some hours later when the tournament ends very late). 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. The
ceremony usually starts around 2:20 p.m.
The national anthem of the winner’s nation is played. The entire presentation is open to the public
and media. Video and photography is
permitted by both the public and members of the media.
bracelet ceremony is set to take place on Tuesday, July 5th. The national anthem of the USA will be played
in honor of her victory.
World Poker Championship has been played every year at the WSOP since 1977. This was the 34th straight year of
the competition. During the first two
decades, the game played was Seven-Card Stud.
In 2001, the game was changed to a mix of both Stud and Hold’em. The tournament has been a No-Limit Hold’em
competition since 2005.
through 2003, this event was traditionally played on the Mother’s Day holiday. 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.
women have won multiple Ladies Poker Championships. This elite list includes Barbara Enright,
Nani Dollison 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.
has cashed more times in this event that any other player, with nine
One of the
most famous people ever to win a WSOP gold bracelet won this event in 2005 –
Academy Award nominated actress Jennifer Tilly.
Ladies World Poker Champions:
1978 -- Terry
1980 -- Deby
1981 -- Ruth
1982 -- June
1984 -- Karen
1985 -- Rose
1987 -- Linda
1989 -- Alma
1990 -- Marie
1991 -- Donna
1992 -- Shari
1996 -- Susie
1997 -- Susie
1998 -- Mendy
2000 -- Nani
2001 -- Nani
2003 -- Barb
2004 -- Hung
2006 -- Mary
2007 -- Sally
2009 -- Lisa
2011 WSOP STATISTICS
Through the conclusion
of Event #53 the 2011 WSOP has attracted 60,362 combined total entries. $110,976,060 in prize money has been awarded
conclusion of this weekend’s tournaments, the total prize pool for all events crossed
the $100 million mark.
conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of nationality of gold bracelet
winners has been:
conclusion of this tournament, the national origin (birthplace) of winners has
conclusion of this tournament, the home-states of (American) winners have been:
New York (6)
conclusion of this tournament, the breakdown of professional poker players to
semi-pros and amateurs who won gold bracelets has been:
Cody, Cheech Barbaro, Eugene Katchalov, Allen Bari, Harrison Wilder, Matt
Perrins, Sean Getzwiller, Viacheslav Zhukov, David Diaz, Andrew Badecker, Tyler
Bonkowski, Brian Rast, John Juanda, Aaron Steury, Darren Woods, Jason Somerville,
Bertrand Grospellier, John Monnette, Elie Payan, Mark Radoja, Chris Viox, Dan Idema, Andy Frankenberger, Chris Lee, Sam Stein, Mark Schmid, Jason
Mercier, Mikhail Lakhitov, Fabrice Soulier, Mitch Schock, Matt Jarvis, Justin
Pechie, Ben Lamb, Rep Porter, Andre Akkari, Joe Ebanks, Lenny Martin,
Athanasios Polychronopoulos, Antonin Teisseire, Matt Matros, Marsha Wolak
Semi-Pros (5): Sean R. Drake, Amir Lehavot, Oleksii
Kovalchuk, Eric Rosawig, Arkadiy Tsinis
Amateurs (7): Geffrey Klein, Foster Hays, James Hess, Kirk
Caldwell, Ken Griffin, Owais Ahmed, David Singontiko
tracking first started in 2005, this year’s WSOP has the greatest disparity of
professionals winning over semi-pros and amateurs than any year recorded, so
far – with 46 out of 53 events being won by pros or semi-pros.
conclusion of this tournament, the victories of 11 of the 52 winners (21
percent) marked the first time the new champion had ever cashed at the WSOP.
held over the past 11 years has included at least one multiple gold bracelet
champion (meaning two or more wins within the same year). The last year the WSOP was comprised
exclusively of single-event winners was back in 1999. The record for most multiple gold bracelet
winners within a single year was in 2009, when five players managed to win two
or more titles. So far this year, no
player has yet won two gold bracelets.
The streak of
consecutive male WSOP gold bracelet winners is currently at 209 consecutive
events. Aside from the annual Ladies Poker
Championship, the last female player to win a WSOP tournament open to both
sexes was Vanessa Selbst, in 2008. The
longest “cold” streak for female players occurred between years 1982 and 1996,
when 221 consecutive open events passed without a female champion.
finish by any female (open events) at this year’s WSOP was by two players. Maria Ho finished second ($5,000 buy-in
No-Limit Hold’em). Kim Nguyen also
finished as the runner up ($1,500 buy-in Six-Handed Limit Hold’em).
finish by any defending champion at this year’s WSOP was by David Baker, who
after winning the previous $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven Draw Lowball
World Championship finished in sixth place in defense of his title.
world poker champions rarely perform well the following year after their
victory. Chris “Jesus” Ferguson was the
last world champion to win a gold bracelet the next year, which happened in
2001. Perhaps it’s due to the increasing
size of the fields. But there’s also great
pressure on the champions to do well.
What follows is a list of the only world champions in history to win a gold
bracelet after winning the championship during the previous year:
Stu Ungar (1981)
players who make it to the final table of the Main Event Championship (November
Nine) one year tend to do quite well in subsequent WSOP years. Consider that last year, three former Main
Event finalists won gold bracelets – Eric Buchman, Tex Barch, and Scott
Montgomery. This year, Matt Jarvis won
his first gold bracelet one year after making it to the November Nine in 2010.
New tournament records set at the 2011
WSOP (to date):
Heads-Up tournament prize pool in history ($3,040,000) – Event #2
live Omaha High-Low Split Tournament in history (925 entries) – Event #3
live Six-Handed tournament in poker history (1,920 entries) – Event #10
Deuce-to-Seven tournament prize pool in history ($1,184,400) – Event #16
live $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single day start
(3157 entries) – Event #18
live $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament in history with single day start
(3175 entries) – Event #20
consecutive-days starting field sizes in poker history (combined 6,332 entries)
– Event #18 and Event #20
live Pot-Limit Omaha tournament in poker history (1,071 entries) – Event #22
Mixed-Game (Eight-Game Mix) in poker history (489 entries) – Event #23
Seniors tournament in poker history (3,752 entries) – Event #30
Seniors No-Limit Hold’em championship prize pool in history ($3,376,800) –
single-day live tournament start in poker history (3,752 entries) – Event #30
Largest consecutive-days starting field
sizes in poker history (combined 6,580 entries) – Event #30/Event #32 (broke
Event #18/Event #20 record from earlier in 2011 WSOP)
Largest four-consecutive days field sizes in poker history
(2,500+3,752+2,828+3,144 =12,224 entries) -- Events 28, 30, 32, 34, June 16-19,
Largest Mixed Pot-Limit tournament in history (606 entries) –
Biggest Pot-Limit Omaha prize pool in live poker history
($3,393,400) – Event #42
New player records set at the 2011
WSOP (to date):
35-year span between Artie Cobb’s first cash in this event (1976) and most
recent cash in the same event (2011) represents the longest time span in WSOP
history. He accomplished this in
Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split (Event #25).
Hellmuth Jr. added to his record as the individual all-time leader in cashes
(83) and final table appearances (42).
“Tahoe” Andrew added to his record as the player with the longest consecutive
streak of WSOP appearances (entering at least one event), currently at 38 years
and counting (1974 to present).
RAISING AWARENESS: BAD BEAT ON CANCER AND THE WSOP
Bad Beat on
Cancer was created in 2003 by Phil Gordon and Rafe Furst as an easy and fun way
for poker players to donate to the Prevent Cancer Foundation. It all began when Chris Moneymaker pledged 1
percent of his 2003 Main Event winnings and went on to capture the championship,
contributing $25,000 when he was awarded the $2.500,000 first- place prize. By taking the pledge, wearing the patch, and
joining ‘Team 1%’, players can feel good supporting a cause that only benefits
when they win. As the official charity
of the WSOP, pledges simply indicate to the payouts staff that they are donating
1 percent of their winnings, and the funds are automatically withheld. A tax receipt is generated and sent to their
mailing address. Several high profile
professionals have made ‘life pledges’ of 1 percent of all their winnings -- including
Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth Jr., Lee Childs, Paul Wasicka, Andy Bloch, Dennis
Phillips, and others. Since 2003, the initiative
has raised over $3,500,000 for cancer prevention research, education, and
community outreach programs. Players can
pick up a patch and join Team 1% by stopping by the Bad Beat on Cancer booth,
located at the 2011 WSOP opposite the Amazon Room in the concourse. The Nevada Cancer
Institute based in Las Vegas is a benefiting charity from the Bad Beat on