Hollywood, Florida's Jessica Dawley tops 696-entrant field to claim $130,230 in tradition-filled Ladies Championship

30 June 2018 (Las Vegas) – Jessica Dawley, a 35-year-old poker pro from Hollywood, FL, has won her first World Series of Poker gold bracelet in Event #57 of the 2018 WSOP, the $1,000/$10,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold'em Championship.

The victory for Dawley, a native of Indiana, was worth $130,230, surpassing her previous career earnings of $117,258 in 24 previous WSOP and WSOP Circuit cashes.

Dawley doubled up twice during four-handed action to stay alive in the event, then rode a run of hot cards to a commanding lead before closing out the win. Dawley's final opponent was Bozeman, MT's Jill Pike, who led for much of the final before Dawley's late surge.

Pike, 51, earned $80,444 in her first-ever WSOP cash. Also posting a first cash at the WSOP was this year's third-place finisher, Lisa Fong. Fong, a native of Hong Kong now living in South Pasadena, CA, collected $55,812.

Corona, CA's Mesha James finished fourth, earning $39,334, while Oregon's Jacqueline Burkhart collected $28,167 for fifth.

Dawley, an Indiana native and Florida-based pro, was high in the chip counts for much of the day, yet she needed two key double-ups to stay alive before closing out the win with a rush. Dawley finally finished off Montana's Pike in a hand that saw Pike forced all in with   , which Dawley called with   . Dawley then hit the     flop, and Pike couldn't find a king as the   turn and   river completed the board.

“I can't even put it into words,” said Dawley, in the moments following her win. “It hasn't hit me yet for sure. I kept picturing myself as I was sitting here; I kept looking at these boxes of everyone in their bracelet photos” – this being a design element of the Twitch streaming stage where most of the final was played – “and I kept trying to keep my head straight with that. I was looking at that picture and hoping that was me at the end of the day.

“It's been kind of a grind for the last ten years and I'm really happy with [this result].”

Dawley was by far the most aggressive player at the table during this final's later levels, and eventually that aggression won out. As she related, “I had plenty of chips, and the thing that got frustrating was that no one seemed to want to play a pot. They were folding a lot of hands that they shouldn't have been folding, and therefore it forced me to call off in a lot of spots where I was racing, versus knowing where I was strategically ahead.

“But it's part of the game, and that's why I try to keep my mind right. I kept talking to myself in the bathroom because I doubled four different people up, and one player I think I doubled up three different times.” In the end, though once she gathered most of the chips, she forced fold after fold from her short-stacked opponents. The tightly played final table featured plenty of pre-flop all-ins but, as she noted, relatively few multi-street pots.

An unofficial final table of ten returned for Saturday's Day 3 in the annual – and traditional – Ladies Championship. The ten were led by Pike's 651,000 in chips, though the players were tightly clustered, indicating some big collisions ahead.

The fireworks started early in a hand that sent Minnesota's Danielle Andersen to the rail in tenth, bubbling the official final. Andersen clashed with Jessica Dawley in a hand where most of the chips went in after a   turn that followed     flop. Andersen checked, Dawley bet 60,000, Andersen check-raised all in for 180,000 and Dawley called. Andersen had    for a straight, but Dawley had    for a higher one, and the   river kept Dawley ahead. Andersen's tenth-place run was worth $6,799.

Well over an hour elapsed before the official final lost its first player, and that was Minnesota native and current Henderson, NV resident Tara Snow. Snow was down to just 63,000 when she moved all in with   , and Weiyi Mo called from the big blind with   . The board ran out        , the river four pairing Mo's cards and sending Snow off for $8,732 in ninth-place money.

Eighth went to well-known poker writer and law-firm marketing director “Minnesota” Molly Massey, who nursed a short stack into the final but could climb little higher. Massey exited for an $11,411 cash after she shoved all in for her last 143,000 with   . Pike was waiting, though, with   , and the aces held on a         runout.

Pike picked up another knockout not long after when she won a virtual race against Catskill, NY's Weiyi Mo. Mo had moved all in for 216,000 with    over the top of Pike's 45,000 raise, and Pike quickly called with   . The         board brought Mo no help, and she was off to the cashier for a seventh-place, $15,167 payout.

Six-handed action lasted just thirteen hands before another player with Minnesota connections, Tara Cain, busted. Cain exited in a battle of the blinds when she called all in with    against a large Dawley raise. Dawley opened    and trailed through the     flop and   turn, but she spiked a pair with the   river, leaving Cain to collect $20,499 for the deep run.

Fifth place went to Boring, OR's Jackie Burkhart, when she moved all in with    but found Pike again waiting with pocket aces. Burkhart picked up hopes for a chop with the     flop, but the   turn and   river were no good, giving Burkhart a $28,167 cash.

Pike owned a commanding lead as four-way action began, but then the lead changed hands repeatedly as the short stacks doubled through on multiple spots. Corona, CA's Mesha James ended up short on chips after losing a race against Dawley, then busted in an all-in pre-flop hand when her    couldn't connect against Fong's   . The board ran out        and James earned $39,334 for fourth.

James' exit left Pike and Long parrying to see who would square off against Dawley, and Fong's bustout came first. In her final hand, Fong pushed all in for her last 460,000 with   , but Dawley, in the big blind, found pocket kings, the last of three monster hands that all held up for her during late action. Dawley's kings stayed well ahead as the board brought        , meaning Fong collected a $55,812 cash for third.

Pike's bustout hand occurred just four hands later, as this event closed with a rush.

Event #57, $10,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold'em Championship, attracted 696 players and built a $626,400 prize pool. 105 players cashed, each earning a minimum $1,497 payout.

Other Notables:
Among those cashing in Event #57 were Lisa Costello (27th, $3,572), Kristy Arnett (28th, $2,991), Gaelle Baumann (31st, $2,991), Natasha Mercier (34th, $2,991), Lacey Jones (41st, $2,551), Cyndy Violette (47th, $2,219), Katherine Fleck (50th, $2,219), and Melanie Weisner (70th, $1,782).

Click here for Full Results.
Click here for live updates from Event #57.

Final Table Payouts:

1st: Jessica Dawley, $130,230
2nd: Jill Pike, $80,444
3rd: Lisa Fong, $55,812
4th: Mesha James, $39,334
5th: Jacqueline Burkhart, $28,167
6th: Tara Cain, $20,499
7th: Weiyi Mo, $15,167
8th: Molly Mossey, $11,411
9th: Tara Snow, $8,732