The Year of the Woman
It's getting hard to ignore the fact that 2010 may very well indeed be The Year of the Woman. We have to credit Wicked Chops Poker
for that designation. They even put a little trademark symbol after each "Year of the Woman" claim, so you know they're legit!
But seriously, if you haven't been keeping up with the major live tournament scene one-third of the way through 2010, you might not have realized that a few of the game's biggest tournaments have been won by females. Considering that females account for an incredibly small percentage of participants in major tournaments (I think I heard that just 200 of the 6,500 participants in last year's WSOP Main Event were women), for three of the biggest events of the year to have been won by a woman is pretty incredible from a statistical standpoint.
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NBC Heads-Up Championship
The 64-player NBC Heads-Up Championship included seven women. This proportion of women to total entrants was probably quite a lot higher than most tournaments. But even still, women only accounted for 11% of the field. One of the most famous women in poker, Annie Duke, won this $25,000 buy-in event for a cool $500,000. Duke's win came in early March and seems to have opened the floodgates for female champions in major live tournaments.
NAPT Mohegan Sun
The second-ever event of the North American Poker Tour drew a huge field of 716 players for a $5,000 buy-in in Connecticut. With ten players left, two women were in contention to win the title. Vanessa Rousso, who won the 91-player ladies event at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure earlier this year, was ousted in 10th. Vanessa Selbst plowed through a final table featuring some of the best male players in the world and went on to win the tournament for $750,000. The "Year of the Woman" argument gained some momentum as a result.
EPT San Remo
Last week, the largest EPT field in history (excluding PCA events) came together for a €5,000 buy-in in San Remo, Italy. One of the more attractive women in poker, Liv Boeree, showed up at the final table with roughly 10% of the chips in play. I, for one, didn't even consider it as a possibility that she would win the tournament. Not because of her gender or anything, but mainly because Jakob Carlsson, a 22 year old Swedish kid, had about 33% of the chips in play. Young Swedish dudes with one-third of the chips in play just seem like an insurmountable force. And in any other year, Carlsson's huge chip stack probably would have been insurmountable. But this isn't "any other year". This is the "Year of the Woman". Sure enough, Liv Boeree battled her way to a heads up battle against Carlsson. You know the rest of the story. Boeree wins and becomes the cutest self-made millionaire 25 year old on planet earth (maybe).
Three major tournaments, three female champions so far in 2010. That might already be enough to consider this the "Year of the Woman", but there's still eight months left!
In the $25,000 buy-in WPT Championship which has yet to conclude at the time this article was written, Heather Sue Mercer (a woman, obv) found herself sitting on a huge chip stack with 21 players left. She got pocket Aces all-in preflop against Faraz Jaka's Nine-Three for a monstrous pot. Despite being an 88% favorite to win the hand and catapult her way to a huge chip lead, Jaka flopped two pair and is now in great position to win the whole tournament. Had it not been for that gross suckout, there might not even be an argument left to be made on whether or not 2010 is the Year of the Woman. An interesting side note is that Mercer's ability to come out of nowhere and start playing $25,000 buy-in events comes from the fact that she won a $2 million lawsuit against Duke University who kicked her off of their football team on account of her gender. Mercer's story was widely publicized. She clearly has a knack for competition and poker seems to be a pretty good fit.
The woman who could cement the Year of the Woman argument once and for all is finally old enough to play in the United States. Annette Obrestad, who won the WSOP Europe Main Event as an 18 year old, turned 21 last fall. This summer will be her first year of eligibility at the WSOP. Since turning 21, she's already made three final tables in U.S.-based poker tournaments. The poker world will have an eye on Obrestad this summer to see if her WSOP success translates on the west side of the pond.