Throughout the Year 2010, women in poker stepped up to provide some of the highlights of the tournament poker year. Whether it was live or online, the ladies showed that the game of poker wasn’t a “man’s game,” that the fairer sex could ably compete on the felt and take some of the biggest prizes in the game and in different locations around the world.
The year got off to a grand start at the Aussie Millions, primarily at the hands of Annette Obrestad. “Annette_15” went Down Under and continued to demonstrate that she wasn’t just an online wunderkind. She took down the championship of the $1000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament, but saved a fantastic performance for the Aussie Millions Main Event. In that tournament, Obrestad battled through the 746 player field to earn a seventh place finish, good for a $125,000 (Australian dollars) payday. It would not be the last salvo fired by the Norwegian superstar as the year played out.
In March, the ladies truly stepped it up to take some of the biggest championships the game of poker has to offer. At the invitational National Heads Up Poker Championships at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Obrestad once again drove deep and finished in ninth place in the event. However, it was the run of another top female in the game, Annie Duke, who stole the show.
Duke faced one of the toughest roads in the bracket competition, starting off with a win over Andy Bloch. She then defeated 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event runner up Darvin Moon to reach a showdown with the 2007 champion of the Heads Up event, Paul Wasicka. After defeating Paul, Annie dueled against 2007 WSOP Main Event champion Jerry Yang in the Elite Eight.
Duke was able to defeat Yang, setting up a showdown against 2008 WSOP Main Event third place finisher Dennis Phillips. Once she took down Phillips, Annie faced perhaps her toughest challenger of all in her good friend, Erik Seidel. Things started well for Duke, winning the first of the best of three match, only to see Seidel tie the event up in the next game. After a frantic third match, with neither player able to eliminate the other over several all ins, Annie was finally able to defeat the 2010 Poker Hall of Fame inductee and take home the $500,000 payday.
Duke’s victory continued a landslide of females capturing some of poker’s biggest events. In April, Vanessa Selbst became the third champion of the PokerStars North American Poker Tour in winning the Championship Event at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut for a $750,000 payday. One week later, facing the largest field ever assembled for the European Poker Tour stop in San Remo, Italy, Liv Boeree stepped up to take the championship and the $1.6 million first place prize.
Although no woman would take an open bracelet during the 2010 World Series, several veterans had their moments in the sun. Jennifer Harman made two final tables during the run of the tournament schedule, finishing third in the $10,000 Seven Card Stud World Championship and sixth in the $2500 Razz event. Another veteran of the game, Joanne “J. J.” Liu, cashed in three events, making the final table in the $1500 Pot Limit Hold’em event and falling just short of the final table in the $2500 Six Handed Limit Hold’em tournament.
Following the WSOP, the ladies continued to take the fight to the poker world. Obrestad was victorious at the EPT London’s £5,000 Heads Up Championship in September and took a 13th place finish in October at the World Poker Tour’s Festa al Lago Championship Event. Selbst had perhaps the finest year of all the ladies, however, as she added another victory at the Partouche Poker Tour stop in Cannes, France. The $1.8 million win pushed her earnings for 2010 up to $2.8 million and landed her in fourth place on the CardPlayer Magazine Player of the Year race, the highest finish by a woman since J. J. Liu made the top ten in 2005.
As the year came to a close, Vanessa Rousso carried the banner for the ladies at the WPT Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Poker Classic Championship Event. “Lady Maverick” held the chip lead as the tournament came down to the final table, valiantly battling a stacked table that included 2010 WSOP Main Event runner up John Racener, Kirk Morrison, Andrew Robl and Ted Lawson. Vanessa would eventually finish in third place behind Robl and eventual champion Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari for a $358,000 payday.
Online, ladies also made an impact that has to be noted. Popular poker personality Christina Lindley was victorious in the $300 No Limit Hold’em event during the inaugural PokerStars United States Championships of Online Poker (USACOOP), taking home a nice bounty of $127,500. In December during Full Tilt Poker’s Mini-FTOPS, poker reporter Kristy Arnett stepped up to take the Heads Up championship and, in PokerStars’ Sunday Million on December 20th, Lily Mizrachi, the wife of 2010 WSOP Main Event final tablist Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, finished second, earning more than $141,000.
As you can see, 2010 has definitely been “The Year of The Woman!” Here’s looking to 2011 for more outstanding performances from these and other outstanding ladies of the game!