The Ladies Championship brought an incredible field of 1,128 players after the biggest paycheck ever awarded for a women-only event. The ultimate victor couldn’t be more different than the previous winner. Jennifer Tilly, 2005’s winner, is an actress and celebrity in her own right, broadening into becoming a solid, legitimate poker player. This year’s winner would be a local player from Henderson, more comfortable in her home game shared with her husband than poker’s biggest stage.
With the excitement of a final day after seventeen grueling hours of play, most of the players were working on adrenaline and caffeine as they started play. In the first hour of play, Mary Jones Meyer went on an adventurous ride from short stacked to the chip lead. First, she doubled through Nan Wang when her pocket queens fell behind a spiked ace on the flop only to catch her set on the turn. A few hands later, Patti Abram trapped her beautifully on a flop of , shoving with pocket threes and called by Jones Meyer’s pocket nines. Abram had her covered, but she was left with $28k in chips after the hit on the turn, moving Jones Meyer up to $145k in chips. Abram would exit a few hands later (12th, $17,450). Sue Luckenbaugh couldn’t get much luckier than catching her gut shot on the river to knock out Debbie Talosi’s top set. Talosi’s all-in move was called pre-flop, but the pain wasn’t any easier to watch (10th, $20,530).
After a dinner break, the final table was treated to a very special bonus: they would become television stars, moving to ESPN’s Final Table after the Allen Cunningham-David Rheem duel concluded in the $1k re-buy tourney. Unfortunately for Ellie Ahlgren, she wouldn’t make it through auditions. Prior to moving, Ahlgren moved in with pocket fours only for Jones Meyer to peek at pocket aces. Ahlgren was on the cutting room floor, out in 9th ($23,096). Reka Hellgato was the short stack, with the other seven players sitting on $200-260k when they moved to the TV table. Lorrie Scott emerged as the aggressor of the table, pushing until pushed back. That led to a crucial hand with Jones Meyer, who limped and then called Scott’s $60k raise. The flop of saw a series of events we’ve seen again and again at this World Series: check/shove/insta-call. Jones Meyer held for top pair, top kicker, and the nut flush draw, up against for an over pair and a flush draw that was no-good. The on the turn gave Scott a set and brought us down to eight spades to prevent Jones Meyer’s departure. The caused the crowd to erupt with a mix of cheers and groans, and Scott watched most of her chips move away.
Hellgato and Scott both doubled up from very short stacks, but Jones Meyer finished Scott’s baby pair off by catching an ace (8th, $25,662). Scott headed back to Austin with a reputation as big as her home state. Hellgato still on life support, Devi Ortega (7th, $30,794) and Julie Allen (6th, $35,927) would bust out while Hellgato patiently nursed her chips. Allen hoped to triple up when Shanee Barton and Jones Meyer both called her $24k bet from the button. Burton in the small blind checked the flop, and Jones Meyer bet $50k only to see Barton min-raise to $100k. Beware the min raiser, although it would be next to impossible to get away from trip eights. Jones Meyer re-raised to $200k only for Barton to tack on another $130k, called by Jones Meyer who showed . Allen’s hope to triple up was behind her, she knew, as she showed to Barton’s for a flopped full house. did nothing to alter the outcome, and Barton had doubled up as Allen headed home (6th, $35,927). Barton moved close to a million in chips on the next hand, knocking out Sue Luckenbaugh - out in 5th ($41,059). Luckenbaugh turned $26 into her final check, so she had to feel great about her experience.
Reka Hallgato had survived on a short stack well into the night, but after a final push with pocket fours, Barton sent her back to Hollywood, flopping a straight and pushing Jones Meyer out of the pot. The Budapest native’s 4th place finish ($51,234) doubled her take-home from her short stack with eight players left; she definitely earned every dollar. With three players left, Barton had a big chip lead ($950k) over Jones Meyer ($338k) and Beatrice Stranzinger ($224k). Stranzinger had played very tight, doubling up once with big slick but avoiding confrontation for the most part. She made her last stand against Barton with a baby ace, but Barton caught a queen on the flop to end her night (3rd, $71,340).
Heads-up, Barton sat on roughly the same stack she’d started with three-handed ($929k), but Jones Meyer now had more comfortable footing ($676k). On their first hand, Jones Meyer raised $60k only to see Barton move all-in. A questionable call at best followed from Jones-Meyer, a mix of fatigue and gamble clouding her judgment. She turned over to Barton’s pocket eights. Jones Meyer was in better shape than she could have hoped for with two over cards, but the flop of reduced her outs to the four queens in the deck as Barton caught bottom set. The hit and Barton felt this night would end in her favor, but after the now familiar three minute pause between cards, the gave Jones Meyer a straight and new life. After a split pot and a small pot dragged by Jones Meyer, the monster of the night ensued. Barton made it $66k to go, only to be re-raised to $150k. Barton called on the button, and the flop came . Jones Meyer pushed $200k into the pot, and Barton moved in for all her chips. Covered by her opponent, Jones Meyer again made a questionable call for her tournament life, showing - giving her nothing but two over cards and a backdoor straight draw. Barton flipped over her , but could she feel confident this time that it would be over? Again, the turn card did nothing but prolong the drama. The took all the air out of the room as yet again Jones Meyer had caught a river card to sustain herself. This one crippled her opponent, as Barton stared at her remaining $140k in chips.
It ended the same way, Barton’s ahead of held by Jones Meyer. The spiked six on the river ended the night, Shawnee Barton standing proud in second ($123,178). She played brilliantly throughout, but this night belonged to Mary Jones Meyer (1st, $236,094). Another M&M, Mary Tyler Moore, had a theme song with the last line of “You’re gonna make it after all.” Tonight, this M&M sang an updated version: “I’m gonna make them all.” She did, and she has a WSOP bracelet on one wrist and a custom diamond-studded watch from WSOP sponsor Corum Watches on the other wrist to show for it.