The WPT Ladies Championship was the culmination of a series of five tournaments in the inaugural season of the WPTL. A total of 150 players entered the $1,500 buy-in tournament at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and on April 14th, the six final table players were determined. They returned on Friday, April 25th to compete in front of the lights and cameras of the World Poker Tour production set for the championship title.
The seating arrangement, players, and chip counts for the start of the final table were as follows:
|Seat 1:||Nancy Todd Tyner||107,400|
|Seat 2:||Janice Kim||32,900|
|Seat 3:||Cindy Kerslake||16,400|
|Seat 4:||Vanessa Selbst||182,200|
|Seat 5:||Donna Varlotto||68,600|
|Seat 6:||Van Nguyen||42,300|
Two of the final table players have already had WPT successes added to their resumes. Vanessa Selbst won the WPTL event at Commerce Casino in Los Angeles only several months prior, which only adds to her previous accomplishments of two 2006 World Series of Poker cashes – one being a final table seventh place finish – and two 2007 WSOP cashes – the final table of the ladies championship and third place in the heads-up championship. And Van Nguyen, the wife of poker pro Men “The Master” Nguyen, won the WPT Celebrity Invitational on March 1st, becoming the first woman to ever win a WPT mixed event.
After 22 hands had been played, Selbst had increased her chip lead steadly, while Nguyen lost some and sat with only 23k. Cindy Kerslake was down to an urgent 11k, and it seemed that Selbst was going to run down the table.
Kerslake took a chance two hands later and moved all-in from the small blind for her last 7,000 with -. Selbst called from the big blind with -. The board produced ---- to give Kerslake the higher two pair and a double-up to 17k.
Janice Kim, who had been unable to build much momentum, was the next to make a move. When Selbst made an initial raise to 7,500, Kim attempted to move all-in from the small blind but physically left a few chips behind. Selbst did the courtesy and put Kim all-in, and Kim called. Kim turned over pocket 9’s, and Selbst showed pocket 6’s. The board was no help to Selbst with A-J-4-4-J, and Kim doubled up to approximately 72k.
The very next hand saw more action. Short-stacked Nguyen shoved all-in for 14,500 with -, and Nancy Todd Tyner called with -. The cards were dealt as ----. Tyner rivered trips and eliminated Van Nguyen in sixth place for $6,495.
Keeping up with the suddenly frantic pace, the next hand began with Tyner raising initially to 8k. Donna Varlotto pushed all-in from the big blind for 35k, and Tyner called with -. Varlotto disappointedly showed -, and the board came ----. Tyner turned the straight, and Donna Varlotto was sent home in fifth place with $8,350.
Tyner seemed to be on a roll, with an exception. A few hands after eliminating two players, she raised to 11k, but the short stack Kerslake moved all-in from the small blind for her last 18k. Tyner called with pocket Jacks, but Kerslake showed pocket Queens. The flop of Q-6-6 gave Kerslake the full house, and the turn and river of 10 and 4 were no help to Tyner. Kerslake doubled to 41k to stay in the game.
And then there was a lull in the action. The four remaining players seemed to be a little more cautious after watching two players hit the rail and knowing that Selbst wasn’t giving up her chip lead, though Tyner was making a serious run at accumulating chips. Finally, Kerslake seemed to get frustrated. In a three-way hand in which Kerslake raised, and Selbst and Tyner called, all three players checked the flop of A-8-2. Upon seeing a 10 on the turn, Selbst bet 25k, which would have put Kerslake all-in. Tyner called, but Kerslake folded. Both remaining players checked the 7 on the river. Selbst showed Q-J for queen-high, and Tyner tabled 9-7 for the winning pair of 7’s. Kerslake claimed she folded pocket Q’s and seemed annoyed by the play.
After some time had passed, it was Kim who took her last chips into play. She moved all-in for 25,500 with J-8, and Selbst called with A-8. The board came A-K-6-4-4, and Selbst took the pot. Janice Kim was sent away in fourth place with $11,125.
Two hands later, Kerslake put all of her 31k chips in the pot from the small blind with -, and Selbst called with -. The dealer put out the cards as ----, and Selbst took it down with two pair. Cindy Kerslake was eliminated in third place for $20,405.
And Then There Were Two…
Heads-up action began with a 500 ante and 2k/4k blinds and the following player chip counts:
Nancy Todd Tyner – 234,000
Vanessa Selbst – 216,000
Through patience and some well-timed aggression, Tyner had overtaken Selbst for the chip lead, despite Selbst having eliminated the last two players. But both players being so close in chips made this anyone’s match.
In a matter of four hands, Selbst managed to regain the chip lead by 50k. And the next three hands saw her put the pressure on her opponent, as her experience in past tournaments has given her the experience to do, and she gained a 119k advantage.
Selbst kept the pressure on when Tyner raised pre-flop to 14k. Selbst called and saw the flop of --. She checked, Tyner bet 12k, and Selbst then raised to 34k, which Tyner called. Both players checked the on the turn. The on the river brought another check from Selbst, but when Tyner bet 25k, Selbst called. Tyner had Ace high, but Selbst won the pot with - for two pair. Selbst was up to 358k in chips, and Tyner was reduced to only 92k.
Tyner proceeded to win several small pots that kept her in the game. And then she turned the whole match on its head. Tyner won several sizable pots in a row that gave her the chip lead. One of a series of those hands started with Selbst trying to limp into the pot, but Tyner raised to 31k, and Selbst called. Both checked the flop of A-10-9 rainbow. The 6 on the turn prompted Tyner to bet 20k and Selbst to call. The river was a Q, upon which the same 20k bet and call took place. Tyner showed A-10 for two pair, and Selbst folded her unknown cards. Tyner then sat with 387k, while Selbst barely hung on with 63k.
Selbst was down but not out, and she fought back to slowly but surely regain the chip lead. But Tyner was relentless. Both players were extraordinarily aggressive and fought for each pot.
As the tournament played on, it wasn’t until the 126th hand of the final table that the match would be decided. On the button, Selbst moved all-in for 111k with -, and Tyner called with a dominating -. The board started with a -- flop, brought a on the turn, and an on the river. Tyner’s best hand held up, eliminating Vanessa Selbst in second place after a long and hard-fought battle. Selbst was awarded $40,815 in prize money for her efforts.
Nancy Todd Tyner won the WPT Ladies Championship! She received a WPT championship bracelet, a Bellagio bracelet, and $68,640 for the victory.