LAS VEGAS (9 July 2017) – Australia's Heidi May has claimed the coveted gold winner's bracelet in one of tradition-laden events of the World Series of Poker, the $10,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold'em Championship.

May, 27, a professional poker player from Hobart, triumphed over a 718-player field to win $135,098 and her first WSOP bracelet in Event #70 on the WSOP slate.

The six-figure win dwarfed May's five previous WSOP cashes, which had totaled $35,376, boosting her lifetime WSOP earnings to $170,474. May has several other live-event cashes in her native Australia and has traveled to Las Vegas each of the past two summers to play in multiple poker events.

May began Day 3 leading the way among the five players who returned for the Ladies Event conclusion, though her route to the win wasn't easy. For most of Sunday's action, May and the others trailed the UK's Deborah Worley-Roberts.Worley-Roberts, a California native who now resides in the United Kingdom, finished in second for $83,459. 

California's Jana de la Cerra took third, earning $57,930.

May was down by as much as a 3:1 margin to Worley-Roberts earlier in Sunday's play, but began climbing back during three-handed action. By the time de le Cerra was bounced in third, May had already claimed the lead. She built on it from there, quickly grinding down Worley-Roberts' stack.

In the event's final hand, with May holding a 6:1 edge, Worley-Roberts moved all in for her last 500,000 with   . May looked at her own cards, found   , and called. The win was all but sealed on the     flop, and May's title was cemented with the   turn. A   river completed the final hand.

May offered a quick recap. “The last hand, she went all in, I looked down, I had a pair. She'd been going all in quite a bit, heads up, so it was an easy call."

That call quickly resulted in the win for May, who's more known for her cash-game play in her native Australia than for her tournament successes. May has played poker for about a decade, and she's been a full-time pro, in her words, for “about three or four years,” frequenting high-stakes cash-game play in Australian venues. She still does occasional work in her pre-poker occupation, which involved aid care and disability support.

The Ladies Championship is known for its elements of pomp and celebration, including many stylish outfits worn by its participants. There was something like that on Sunday, but in a different way: May sported a familiar metallic-ink, '70s-retro shirt at the final table, which she wore over a black tee. There was a reason behind it: the shirt has gotten plenty of camera time during the series on the backs of other players in May's house-renting group this summer.

“This shirt is our house shirt,” she explained, “and every time we make a final table, we wear it. We've already had four final tables wearing this shirt.” Those final-table appearances include one appearance by Michael Gathy and two by Thomas Boivin, putting the shirt into an unofficial tie for most final-table appearances in this year's WSOP.

“It's the first win [at the WSOP] for the shirt, I think,” added May, though it's also been a part of two Aussie Millions event victories among the group.

May admitted being mildly indifferent to the long heritage of the WSOP's Ladies Championship, though she couldn't argue with the end result – it was the biggest win of her career, easily topping the roughly $32,000 she'd once won in an online event. She did concur, however, that the Ladies Event offered a friendly experience for those women just beginning to warm up to tournament poker.

“It's a welcoming environment,” she said. “Non-threatening. It's a bit more recreational than when you come to a tournament and it's all these guys that stare you down with hoodies and stuff – it's a bit too serious for some people. This was a really fun tournament."

May was down by as much as a 3:1 margin to Worley-Roberts earlier in Sunday's play, but began climbing back during three-handed action. By the time de le Cerra was bounced in third, May had already claimed the lead, and she built on it from there, quickly grinding down Worley-Roberts' stack.

In the event's final hand, with May holding a 6:1 edge, Worley-Roberts moved all in for her last 500,000 with   . May looked at her own cards, found   , and called. The win was all but sealed on the     flop, and May's title was cemented with the   turn. A   river completed the final hand.

Action in the Ladies Championship moved into its final table on Saturday evening, with the event's fast pace meaning that the field was down to five for Sunday's Day 3 finale.

The first player eliminated on Saturday from the official nine-player final table was Indiana's Karen Hodge, who was bounced by Tiffany Lee in a wild hand. The chips went in pre-flop and Hodge trailed with pocket queens to Lee's pocket aces, but Hodge moved ahead on a K-Q-10 flop. The turn brought a jack, however, giving Lee a Broadway straight, and that held up when the river brought a trey.

Exiting in eighth soon after was Meg Zampino. Zampino, from Las Vegas, moved her last chips in with   . De la Cerra called with   , and she had to fade a flush draw for Zampino after a     flop. A   turn trimmed Zampino's outs to the remaining hearts, and the   river wasn't one of them.

Seven-way play lasted for more than 40 hands until New York's Tiffany Lee was eliminated. Lee's exit came when she ran her    into Alexis Sterner's   . The       board offered no help, sending Lee to the payout window.

Finishing in sixth as the last of Saturday's bustouts was Florida's Sterner, who was on a shortish stack herself despite gaining Lee's last chips. Sterner's departure came when her    couldn't overtake May's    as the board ran out      . Both players finished the hand with full houses, though May had locked up the pot on the turn.

Quick knockouts marked the start of Day 3's resumed play. Lagrangeville, New York's Katie Ansorge was down to just 70,000 in chips when she moved all in with   , and that didn't work against   . De la Cerra paired her king on the flop and the rest of the board brought no help, not even a draw, to either player, leaving four players in the mix.

Julie Dang soon followed Ansorge to the rail. Dang, originally from Vietnam and now a resident of Rosemead, California, moved in from the small blind for her last 300,000 with   . Worley-Roberts called from thenbig blind with   , and that held up easily on a       runout.

That left just Worley-Roberts, May, and de la Cerra, with de la Cerra's third-place exit coming next. May had already taken the chip lead when she won a virtual race for the last of de la Cerra's chips. De la Cerra moved all in for a little over 400,000 with   . May called with   , and that worked when the board brought      . The pot increased May's margin over Worley-Roberts as heads-up action began.

This year's Ladies Championship drew 718 entries and built a $654,300 prize pool, with the top 108 finishers making the money.

Other Notables:

Many well-known players made deep runs and earned cashes in Event #70. Among them: Thi Nguyen (38th), Amanda Baker (43rd), Lynn Gilmartin (49th), Vanessa Selbst (56th), Julie Cornelius (77th), and Natalie Hof (95th).

Click here for Full Results.
Click here for live updates from Event #70.

Final-Table Payouts:

1st: Heidi May, $135,098
2nd: Deborah Worley-Roberts, $83,459
3rd: Jana de la Cerra, $57,930
4th: Julie Dang, $40,843
5th: Katherine Ansorge, $29,256
6th: Alexis Sterner, $21,298
7th: Tiffany Lee, $15,760
8th: Meg Zampino, $11,858
9th: Karen Hodge, $9,075
“The last hand, she went all in, I looked down, I had a pair. She'd been going all in quite a bit, heads up, so it was an easy call.
“The last hand, she went all in, I looked down, I had a pair. She'd been going all in quite a bit, heads up, so it was an easy call.