Putting a fitting exclamation point on this being the “Canadian Series of Poker,” this year's Ladies Championship has been won by – you guessed it – a Canadian.Kristen Bicknell topped nearly one-thousand players in the $10,000 buy-in Ladies No-Limit Hold'em Championship. She overcame some early adversity on Day One and made it through the final table of the three-day competition. Remarkably, this marked her first time ever to cash at the WSOP. Bicknell collected $173,922 in prize money in addition to her first gold bracelet. Actually, the Ladies Championship hardware is a bit different as it's made of white gold. Bicknell was impressed all the same, and was ecstatic with her first major tournament victory.“It's really such a surreal feeling I have, right now,” Bicknell said moments after victory. “To come here and win this and have everyone here with me watching this and sharing – it's great!”The 2013 Ladies Champion is a 26-year-old poker pro from St. Catherines, Ontario (Canada). She earned her degree in criminal justice, but decided to give her poker hobby a try before committing to a full-time career. Since then, she has been playing poker for almost four years, mostly as an online player. In fact, she enjoys elite status at one of the large online poker sites, a level reserved only for players that put in a lot of time at the tables. However, Bicknell is increasingly playing in both live cash games and tournaments, motivated by her continuing success and rising confidence.“I have worked really hard in poker the last couple of years,” Bicknell said afterward. “So although....I ran really well, it still feels like all my hard work paid off.”Bicknell became the tenth gold bracelet winner this year from Canada, the 11th including Daniel Negreanu (who won a gold bracelet at WSOP Asia Pacific). That's by far the best showing by any country other than the host nation at the WSOP in the 44-year history of the tournament, besting the previous record of six with ease.The winner's ride to the gold bracelet was rocky. On Day 1, she was severely short-stacked. However, remembering the old adage about a chip and a chair, Bicknell never gave up or put her chips in recklessly. After a few pots, she was back up to average chips and ended the say on a rush. Day 2 included Bicknell's big move, into serious contention as one of the chip leaders. On Day Three, she arrived at a final table made up of players from five different countries. In fact, the top three finishers were Kristen Bicknell (Canada), Leanne Haas (Australia), and Julie Monsacre (France).This was Bicknell's first tournament of this series. She next hopes to play in the Main Event, and, in her words, “go deep.”Based on what's happened so far with Bicknell being a perfect 1 for 1 at this year's series and the overwhelming success of Canadian players, don't be surprised if Bicknell doesn't do exactly that.MEET GOLD BRACELET WINNER – KRISTEN BICKNELL
Name: Kristen Bicknell
Current Residence: St. Catharines, Ontario (Canada)
Birthplace: St. Catharines, Ontario (Canada)
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Professional Poker Player
Education: Degree in Criminal Justice
WSOP Cashes (including this event): 1
First WSOP Cash (year): 2013
WSOP Final Table Appearances: 1
WSOP Wins (with this victory): 1
WSOP Career Earnings: $173,922INTERVIEW WITH THE CHAMPION
WSOP: How does it feel to win your first WSOP gold bracelet?
Bicknell: It feels really good. I have worked really hard in poker the last couple of years. So although I do not think I played exceptional throughout the whole tournament, I ran really well, it still feels like all my hard work paid off.
WSOP: Was your goal at this WSOP to win a gold bracelet?
Bicknell: This was supposed to be just a fun little trip for me. I mostly play cash games online, but I figured I would play the ladies event, since it's always fun. e,
WSOP: You seem to have a lot of energy right now. Is that adrenaline?
Bicknell: It fels surreal. I'm on like nine hours of sleep the last three nights.
WSOP: Talk about the Ladies Championship and the differences you might experience in this tournament as opposed to others.
Bicknell: Things got really serious at the final table. Yesterday, everyone was nice....but today there was not much talking at the final table. It wasn't like yesterday when everybody was showing pictures and all. Today, everyone had on their game face.
WSOP: You had the chip lead during a significant part of the final table. Did that make things easier for you?
Bicknell: I doubled up early, so that made it easier for me. I was able to run over some shorter stacks. That made it easier.
WSOP: Does it feel good to be the tenth Canadian winner at this series, so far?
Bicknell: I felt some pride. When I realized I was the only Canadian left, I wanted to win. Plus, it's Canada Day tomorrow.
WSOP: Are you going to play the Main Event?
Bicknell: I guess I have to now.
WSOP: How many tournaments have you played overall at the WSOP?
Bicknell: I've played about 15 or 20 events, but this is the first time I've cashed.
WSOP: When you saw nearly a thousand players entered on Day 1, could you have imagined then that you'd be here now?
Bicknell: I wasn't thinking at all about the final table or anything. I was just thinking to play every hand the best that you can. Don't make any mistakes. I was down to a thousand in chips. I didn't have that much help, but it's a reminder that a 'chip and a chair” is true and that you never know. All you need is a double up.
WSOP: Do you have any theory as to why Canadian players are doing so well, this year in particular?
Bicknell: I have no idea [laughs].
WSOP: Do you think you will be doing this in ten years?
Bicknell: I don't know. On the side for sure. Poker is a good side thing, I think.
WSOP: What are your thoughts about the way the buy-in is structured and that no men entered this year's tournament for the first time in a while?
Bicknell: I don't know why guys would want to take this away from women in the first place. It doesn't seem....I can't respect that. So, I think it's great that this keeps the men out.