The WSOP Ladies Event has been controversial this year, even with the record number of players in the event. Some top pros skipped the event, while others complained that the 2k in chips and the aggressive structure transformed it into more of a luckbox event. Few look to the winner of the Ladies Event as the top woman in poker, while the only woman to win a bracelet since 2004 is Katja Thater this year.
So who should be considered the top tournament player in the world? The criteria used in this analysis is cash earned in tournaments since the 2006 WSOP as well as the number of cashes. The only exclusions are Made-for-TV events; e.g., Poker After Dark. The NBC Heads-Up Championship was included, although its heavy weighting toward FullTilt Poker as well as the exclusion of many young, top heads-up players makes this questionable.
Players out of the Top Ten
This list is almost as interesting as the list of players who made the top ten. Liz Lieu ($190,698) has four cashes including a $148,370 for her win at a $1k LA Poker Classic event, but her play has focused more on cash games. She has been at the WSOP this year and been close to big scores only to fade late. Annie Duke ($172,381) has five cashes and reached a final table this year in the Seven Card Stud Eight or Better, but she still is back in the pack.
Jennifer Tilly ($151,828) has eight cashes and is steadily improving in her game as more of her focus is on poker. Shannon Elizabeth had a big score in the made-for-TV NBC Heads-Up Championship for 125k of her $135,009. The actress has played many events this WSOP with one cash to show for it. Sabyl Cohen was the top female finisher in last year's Main Event, out in 56th for $123,699. She hasn't cashed since, although she also has played many events this summer. Clonie Gowen ($108,559) has not had success at the WSOP. Her earnings in the last two WSOP is less than $17k despite playing many events.
The major missing player from our Top Ten is considered by many to be the best woman in poker, Jennifer Harman ($85,183). She won $120k in Poker After Dark and has played other televised events. She also regularly plays in some of the biggest live cash games in Las Vegas. Her lack of success over the last twelve months must be frustrating as she continues to play in WSOP events.
In descending order, here is #6-10.
10 Beth Shak, Vanessa Selbst, or Isabelle Mercier This may be a debatable choice, so let's present the candidates for the last spot in our Top Ten. Beth Shak came through with the biggest WSOP cash since Tiffany Williamson with her 2nd place in the for $334,583, but it was only her third cash in the last year. Isabelle Mercier is one of the favorite players in poker, and her 5th place finish at the 2006 $5k NLH event showed that she has the ability to go deep. While both of these are definitely solid choices, we'll go with Vanessa Selbst. Her earnings are $255,538 during our evaluation period (June 2006-June 2007). More importantly, Selbst has had a solid WSOP experience with three of her four cashes being Final Tables (she was beaten in the semifinals of this year's WSOP $5k Heads-Up Championship). The gauntlet of players she beat to get to the semis is a Who's Who of poker: Doyle Brunson, Amir Vahidi, Layne Flack, and Paul Wasicka. Her hyper aggressive style leads to an accumulation of chips, the early bustout, and the resources to go deep.
9 Katja Thater The Team PokerStars player from Germany is a strong force on the European poker circuit, and her WSOP this year shows she's now ready for the global stage. She is the first female player to win a WSOP bracelet since Annie Duke in 2004 (excluding the Ladies Event). She also final tabled the Ladies Event this year, as well as had a 5th place in the EPT event in Warsaw. Her earnings in the last twelve months are $277,889. Thater shows a relentlessness in her play and focuses a great deal on her reads. She often sits on her knees in the chair, towering above the table to read the cards or her players. Her Razz title shows she has the diversity required of a great champion, and her best days are surely ahead of her.
8 Cyndy Violette The vegan is a prolific player at the WSOP, and she's 9th on our earnings list over the last year with $287,038 and thirteen cashes. She had a Final Table at last year's WSOP $5k Seven Card Stud as well as a 14th at the $15k WPT Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic at the Bellagio. She has a diverse game and plays most of the non-holdem games in addition to NLH. She had seven WSOP cashes last year and four this year, one of the top five performances over that two year period. She's had the chances and desperately wants to push ahead into the winner's circle.
7 Kristy Gazes ($393,276) Gazes has had results all over the world, with her top cash coming with her 7th place finish in the $10k Aussie Millions won by Gus Hansen. She tied for 5th in the NBC Heads-Up Championship, and 16th at the WPT LA Poker Classic. Success at the WSOP has actually eluded her the last two years with only two small cashes. She is known as a strong mixed game player rather than a NLH specialist, and her diversity gives her strength and confidence in any field. She plays PLO regularly at FullTilt , and you can find out more about Kristy in our interview with her .
6 Erica Schoenberg ($415,261) has two top finishes in her six cashes over the last year. She won a $2.5k event at Mandalay Bay for $105,875, beating Anna Wroblewski heads-up at the end. She had a great shot at taking her first WSOP bracelet only to go out in 3rd at the $1.5k NLH event, taking home $261,646. Outside of our evaluation period, she also finished 16th at the 2006 WPT $25k Championships for $117,165. She's spent many hours sweating her fiancé, David Benyamine, in the Big Game at the Bellagio. The new FullTilt pro is legit on her own, much more than the prettiest face in poker.
Come back to find out who players 1-5 are in our PokerWorks ranking of the Top Ten Women Tournament Players are.