The Ladies No-Limit Hold’em World Championship at the 2009 WSOP played out with all of the excitement that the participating women could bring to the tables. Add some husbands and boyfriends on the rail, gifts for the women at the tables in the form of lavender playing cards, and a $964,400 prize pool, and the tournament was underway.
Out of the 1,060 starting players, only 146 made it to the second day of action at the Rio, and they quickly made it into the money on Day 2 when Katja Svendsen bubbled and allowed for the final 117 players standing to cash. And though many WSOP tournaments fail to find their final table players on the second day of play, the women did it without a problem. And when action stopped, the following players were set to return on Day 3 to play for the win:
Seat 1: Mari Lou Morelli 320,000
Seat 2: Lisa Parsons 427,000
Seat 3: Dawn Thomas 212,000
Seat 4: Lisa Hamilton 527,000
Seat 5: Lisa Santy 196,000
Seat 6: Angel Pedroza 522,000
Seat 7: Lori Bender 643,000
Seat 8: Kimberly Cunningham 140,000
Seat 9: Kim Rios 197,000
Play started slowly, with the caution preventing anyone from seeing as much as a flop. But soon, the action sped up, and the tournament played out in the afternoon hours.
Lisa Santy was one of the short stacks and moved all-in preflop for her last 171K. Kim Rios came over the top all-in from the small blind, causing the original raiser, Lisa Hamilton, to fold. Santy then showed , but Rios was glad to turn over her pocket aces. The board came , and nothing could beat the aces. Santy was gone in ninth place with $15,973 in prize money.
It was then that the chip lead changed hands numerous times, with none of the final eight emerging as a clear runaway leader. But some of the short stacks, like Dawn Thomas, needed to move. Thomas did it with pocket tens, but Lori Bender called with the superior pocket kings. The dealer showed , and Thomas took $18,742 for the eighth place finish.
Lisa Parsons tangled with Rios to see a flop, at which point Rios bet, but Parsons check-raised all-in with pocket threes for the flopped set. Rios called with for top pair. The turn brought a , but it was the river of a that gave Rios the better full house. That eliminated Parsons in seventh place with $22,880.
As others hit hard times in the tournament, Pedroza did rise to the top of the leaderboard through some increasingly aggressive play and was the first to cross the 1 million-mark in chips. That spot was short-lived, though, when Hamilton doubled through to stay alive and push Pedroza back down to nearer the 500K mark.
It was Rios, though, who was the next to take a chance. She went to see a flop with Hamilton that showed , at which point Rios bet, Hamilton raised, Rios reraised all-in with , and Hamilton called with pocket fours. The set was good as the turn brought a and the river a . Kim Rios was ousted in sixth place with $29,121 for the effort.
Soon after, Kimberly Cunningham saw her stack with only 51K in it and pushed all-in with pocket sixes, and Pedroza was the caller with from the big blind. The board came to end the tournament for Cunningham, who walked away with $38,719 for the fifth place finish.
Pedroza then experienced her downfall. Hamilton took a significant pot from her, leaving Pedroza with only 60K. Though she was able to double back through Hamilton to stay alive, it wasn’t long before she moved again. The hand started when Mari Lou Morelli pushed all-in with , and Pedroza called all-in with only . The board came to eliminate Angel Pedroza in fourth place with $53,940 in prize money.
Morelli went into battle with Lori Bender, though it started innocently enough with an flop. Bender initiated the betting, but Morelli raised all-in for only 60K more with . Bender called and showed the , but everything else came in Bender’s favor with a turn and river. That left Mari Lou Morelli with $78,132 for third place.
Heads-up began with the following chip counts:
Lisa Hamilton 2,315,000
Lori Bender 865,000
It only took a few hands before it ended. The two went to see a cheap flop of , at which point Hamilton bet and Bender’s check-call took them to the turn. Hamilton bet again, but Bender check-raised all-in with for middle pair. Hamilton called with for the flush draw and middle pair with the better kicker. The river brought the , which changed nothing, and Lori Bender was forced to accept second place in the tournament, which came with a $120,575 in prize money.
Lisa Hamilton claimed victory in the World Championship ladies event, which garnered a WSOP gold bracelet and $195,390 to boot.