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With the elimination of Natalie Teh in 120th place ($57,000) Kelly Minkin is once again the last woman standing in the WSOP Main Event. Minkin has tried it before finishing in 29th place of the Main Event three years ago.

Day 5 began with WPT champion Ema Zajmovic and three-time bracelet winner Barbara Enright still in contention, but unfortunately none of them were able to advance to Day 6. Barbara Enright was sent to the rail in 292nd place ($37,705), and Zajmovic soon followed in 215th place ($49,335).

Now it was all up to Minkin, and she certainly stole the limelight early on. Going into the second break of the day Minkin was sitting with a stack of 5,700,000 and had gained the chip lead. Moved to the feature table she lost momentum and finished the day with 1,205,000. Due to a storm hitting Las Vegas and problems with the lighting Day 5 concluded one hour before scheduled. 

With 20 big blinds to her name Minkin is one of the shorter stacks going into Day 6, but with the amount of heart and dedication Minkin has shown I will not be surprised to see her bag big at the end of Day 6.

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In 2015 Kelly Minkin was on a deep run in the Main Event. She made it all the way to Day 6 and a 29th place finish for $211,821. This year Minkin is crushing again and with just 310 players left Minkin is 6th in chips with 3,459,000 going into Day 5. The Main Event is a marathon but it’s hard not to start dreaming of a final table appearance for Minkin. Speaking of final tables Barbara Enright who made the final table of the Main Event in 1995 also made it to Day 5 with a short stack of 275,000.

Ema Zajmovic, the first and only woman to win a WPT title, will be back on the felt with 851,000, and Mina Greco who made the final table of WPT Choctaw in 2015 returns with 282,000. Ming Xi (1,933,000), Xi Yang (1,595,000), Chrystal Utley (789,000), and Natalie The (481,000) all made it to Day 5 as well. The players are guaranteed $37,705 at this point.

Unfortunately Day 4 saw a lot of players hitting the rail too, incl. Katie Stone Cappuccio in 378th, Liv Boeree in 379th, Kristen Bicknell in 492nd place, Jessica Dawley in 543th, and Loni Harwood in 721st – just to name a few.

The very best of luck and run good to all the women still left in the field on Day 5.

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1,182 players survived Day 3 of the greatest poker event on the planet. When the bubble burst with just one minute remaining in the final level of the night all the players were guaranteed $15,000.

Three-time bracelet winner and Poker Hall of Famer Barbara Enright is leading the way and is 10th in chips with massive 1,260,000. She is the only woman who have final tabled the Main Event back in 1995 where she finished in 5th place. Can she do it again this year?

It looks good too for Female Player of the Year 2015 and last woman standing in the 2015 Main Event Kelly Minkin who will return for Day 4 with 795,000 in chips. Kristen Bicknell who won the 2017 Female Player of the Year title had a great day on the felt as well, bagging 565,000 at the end of the night. Two-time bracelet winner Loni Harwood will bring 318,000 into Day 4 and Jessica Dawley who just won her first bracelet will start the day with healthy 514,000.

Other notables still left in the field include Nadya MagnusJamie KerstetterMaria KonnikovaLexy GavinMina GrecoLacey JonesJackie GlazierLiv Boeree, Ema Zajmovic, and Katie Stone Cappuccio.

Good luck to you all on Day 4.

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Poker pro and cash game grinder Jessica Dawley has come a long way to become the 2018 Ladies World Poker Champion. Born in Kentucky and growing up in a small town in Indiana, Dawley learned to play poker when she was six. In high school she supplemented her income playing small stakes home games.

After high school Dawley joined the US Air Force and played a lot of poker in her downtime. When 9/11 hit she was sent to the United Arab Emirates and on return she completed her military service as an intelligence analyst. She took a degree in marketing and management but decided that she wanted to be a poker pro and headed to Las Vegas to fulfill her dream. Dawley now lives in Florida.

Even though cash games are Dawley’s bread and butter she has been playing more tournaments for the last couple of years. Just two weeks ago she finished in 10th place of a 6-handed MSPT Event at the Venetian for $18,355. Dawley has been deep in the Millionaire Make and in WPT Events, but winning a big title had eluded her.

Going into the final day of play in the $1,000 Ladies Championship Dawley was second in chips and eyeing the bracelet. The 696 players who had signed up to play was down to just 10: Tara Cain, Tara Snow, Molly Mossey, Lisa Fong, Mesha James, Jill Pike, Jacqueline Burkhart, Weiyi Mo, Danielle Andersen and Jessica Dawley.

Poker pro Danielle Andersen ($6,799) was the first player to be eliminated when her queen-high straight lost to Dawley’s king-high straight. Tara Snow ($8,732) was the next one out, and poker writer and marketing director Molly Mossey ($11,411) followed in 8th place running a pair of sevens into Jill Pike’s pocket aces.

Pike was responsible for the next elimination as well. Weiyi Mo had moved all in with queen-nine and was looked up by Pike who was holding pocket sevens. The board did not help to Mo and she was sent to the rail in 7th place for $15,167.

Down to 6-handed play Dawley who was by far the most aggressive player was leading the way with Jill Pike hot on her heels. Tara Cain was getting short and when Dawley in the small blind put her all in she called from the big blind with pocket fives. Dawley was holding ace-six and she hit a six on the river to eliminate Tara Cain in 6th place for $20,499.

5th place went to Jacqueline Burkhart who was all in with ace-jack. Jill Pike had picked up a pair of aces once more and she called to eliminate Burkhart who took home $28,167 for her deep run.

With four players left Lisa Fong doubled through Dawley with a pair of jacks vs. Dawley’s ace-king. Fortunately for Dawley she went on to double through Mesha James with ace-king against pocket tens. The all in battle left Mesha James short stacked and she was eliminated in 4th place for $39,334 as she ran her king-ten into Lisa Fong’s ace-queen.

Down to three players Dawley kept the pressure on and she eliminated Lisa Fong in 3rd place when she picked up kings and called a shove from Fong who was all in with ace-six and failed to improve. Fong took home $55,812 for her deep run.

The two chip leaders at the start of the day now found themselves heads up. The heads up battle only lasted four hands though as a short stacked Jill Pike shoved with and was called by Dawley with . When the board ran out Jill Pike was eliminated in 2nd place for $80,444 – and Jessica Dawley was crowned champion.

Jessica Dawley takes home $130,230 for her impressive performance. In an interview with PokerWomenNews back in 2014 she said: “women are harder to read in my experience”, but this time around it all worked out for the ambitious and hardworking grinder who has come such a long way to call herself the new Ladies World Poker Champion.

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India’s Nikita Luther becomes the second woman to win a bracelet in an open event this summer after Farhintaj Bonyadi won the Super Seniors’ bracelet one week ago. Nikita Luther won the $1,000 Tag Team Event with her German teammate Giuseppe Pantaleo outlasting more than 1,000 teams on their way to victory and a first place prize of $175,805.

During the three day event, Nikita Luther was rushing back and forth between the Tag Team Event and Event #54: Big Blind Antes $3,000 NLH where she was going deep as well. She wound up taking 17th place in Event #54 for $18,495 and was able to keep the momentum going to take home her first career bracelet.

The Indian poker pro who is helping to spread the game of poker in her homeland has been playing poker for seven years. In 2016 she was signed as an ambassador by the Indian online poker site Adda52. Her largest live cash came in 2017 when she finished in 5th place of the WPT500 Main Event at the Aria for $65,000. Luther’s bracelet win is obviously a huge accomplishment and an inspiration for female poker players not only in India but all around the world. Huge congrats to Nikita Luther on a truly impressive performance.

The all-women team consisting of two-time bracelet winner Loni Harwod, bracelet winner Haixa Zhang and 2015 Female Player of the Year Kelly Minkin finished in 9th place and took home $12,700 for their deep run.

In 2017 Liv Boeree won the $10,000 version of the Tag Team Event and her first bracelet with her boyfriend Igor Kurganov.

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In 2017 Poker League of Nations (“PLON”), emerged. It’s the largest and most internationally represented women’s poker organization in the world. PLON’s core focus is implementing initiatives to get more ladies into open poker fields, incl. hosting staking satellites during Ladies Week and entering two women into the WSOP Main Event.

PLON is led by co-founders Lena Evans, a USA based double WSOP Circuit ring winner, and Maureen Bloechlinger, a recreational player based in Switzerland. In less than six months, PLON has grown to 2,100 members, with 47 Ambassadors in 25 countries. The women actively share information relating to global events, results, successes, and provide insights not only to events, but on travel, accommodations, tips and hot spots for their country.

The ‘Ambassadors’ lead the way and act as a leader for members from their own community. Empowering women through Ambassadorship in order to advocate for and organize ladies poker events internationally has already been a success. At this moment Ambassadors are busy planning PLON powered tournaments in the Hungary, Switzerland, London, Australia, the USA, Brazil, Estonia, Belgium, Ireland and Czech Republic.

The diverse and successful repertoire of Ambassadors and members which includes 9 WSOP bracelets, 15 WSOP Circuit rings, and 4 PokerStars Spadies, results including 55 first place finishes, 280 final table appearances, live earnings of nearly $9 million, and online earnings in excess of $2 million.

The Ambassadors cover a wide range of competency levels—from sponsored poker professionals to poker hobbyists. The main emphasis for Ambassadorship is based on their contribution to the poker community.

True to its ethos of cost-free membership and content, PLON has a schedule of well- recognized guests on their Discord Discussion series, providing an opportunity for members to interact with top industry professionals, incl. 2017 WSOP Ladies Champion, Heidi May; New York Times best-selling author/poker player Maria Konnikova; EPT Floor Person Kate Badurek; WSOP and EPT champion Liv Boeree, GPI and WSOP champion Kristen Bicknell; and PokerNews presenter Sarah Herring. Another resource for members is the PLON Hand Lab, where a pro discusses a poker hand and talks about outcome.

Watch for PLON’s two ladies at the Main Event, the PLON Summer Summit taking place at South Point, June 26-27, and the PLON WSOP Ladies Championship last longer!  The goal is to have EVERY woman who plays poker in the group!  Request to join the group:  www.Facebook.com/groups/PokerLeagueOfNations

PLON Ambassador wins during summer:
Kristin Bicknell, Team Canada, 5K MSPT #69, Deepstack Championship Venetian, 2nd place, $200K
Ana Marquez, Spanish Ambassador, WSOP Event #28, 3k No Limit Hold ‘em 6 Handed, 6th place, $67,116
Ruth Hall, USA Texas Ambassador, 1st place Event #34 Golden Nugget, $150 NLH Holdem Daily, $3,901
Kim McClymont, Team Canada, 70th place, $1,020 + 80 NLH, 2018 Wynn Summer Classic, $6,744
Natalia Breviglieri, Team UK, cashes in WSOP Event #7 Colossus, 2 Venetian Deepstack Series cashes
June Jenkins, Team Canada, 2 cashes in Golden Nugget Grand Series
Jacqueline Scott, 1 Venetian Deepstack cash
Maureen Bloechlinger, 1st place PH 130 PH KO bounty
Jeanette Mendez, WSOP Event #7 and 1.1k MSPT cash
April Facey, WSOP Seniors cash, Venetian Deepstack Seniors cash
Lena Evans, 5x Caesars wins
Gigi Menes, WSOP Daily Deepstacks cash
Jacqueline Britton, 7th $400 Aria NLH
Heidi May, WSOP #7 and #20 cashes
Jamie Kerstetter, WSOP Event #10 and #21 cashes
Kitty Kuo, 1 Venetian Deepstack cash, WSOP Event #20 cash, 1k Wynn Summer Classic cash
Maria Konnikova, WSOP Event #37 cash

PLON Group members:
Kathy Chang, Aria Poker Classic, Omaha 8 or Better, 1st place, $16, 594
Kate Hoang, WSOP Event #4, $1500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better, 2nd, $148,150,
Event #15 H.O.R.S.E., 37th place for $4,152
Louise Francouer , 6 Wynn Summer Classic cashes, 1 Deepstack cash
Cindy Laycock Kerslake, 2nd place $550 Wynn Summer Classic Daily, $34,500
Nicole Honor, $550 Wynn Seniors, 1st place for $52k, 22nd at GN $370 Seniors, 17th at $250 GN Seniors
Nancy Birnbaum, 1.1k MSPT cash, Wynn Summer Classic cash, WSOP Seniors cash

Photo: Maureen Bloechlinger (co-founder and Swiss Ambassador), Lena Evans (founder and USA Ambassador), and Gigi Menes (Australian Ambassador) at the 2018 WSOP, in the King’s Lounge.

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It would take 36 events before the first female bracelet winner Farhintaj Bonyadi emerged at this year’s WSOP. Bonyadi outlasted 2,190 players to capture the coveted bracelet and the massive first place prize of $311,451.

The $1,000 Super Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Event kicked off four days ago, and was scheduled as a three-day event. But as heads-up play between Farhintaj Bonyadi and Robert Beach went on the event was prolonged for one more day.

Going into the final day of play Robert Beach was the absolute chip leader with 9,010,000 in chips vs. Bonyadi’s 1,975,000. The heads-up battle on Day 4 lasted 113 hands, and none of the players seemed to be in a hurry to end the match. Instead they both played rather cautious, limping and checking a lot. Nevertheless Bonyadi slowly chipped up, and the players were fairly even in chips after about 80 hands. At this point Bonyadi was beginning to play more aggressive and putting pressure on her opponent.

In the final hand and on a board of Bonyadi shoved the river. Beach elected to call with only to see Bonyadi turn over the for a rivered straight to the eight.

Huge congrats to Farhintaj Bonyadi on this impressive accomplishment. Poker success literally runs in the family as Farhintaj Bonyadi is the mother of three-time bracelet winner Farzad Bonyadi who was cheering his mother on from the rail.
The six-figure score is by far the largest cash Farhintaj Bonyadi’s career. She recorded her first cash in 1997 when she took 55th place of a $55 Limit Hold’em tournament for $2,427. In 2012 she was runner-up in a $235 Rio Daily Deepstacks for $35,992. With this huge boost to her bankroll let’s hope we will see much more of Farhintaj Bonyadi in the future.

2006 UK Ladies Open Poker Champion Linda Iwaniak finished in 4th place of the event and took home $103,215 to England for her deep run.

Photo: World Series of Poker

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Even though no woman has won a bracelet yet, female poker players continue to make final tables at the WSOP this summer. Yesterday mixed games player Katherine Fleck, who just a couple of days ago finished in 16th place of the 10k H.O.R.S.E. Championship, went on to take third place in Event #31: $1,500 Seven Card Stud. Fleck entered the final table 6th in chips and was able to ladder up eliminating poker villain Chris Ferguson on her way. Fleck took home $43,765 for her impressive run.

Esther Rossi made the final table as well, but bowed out in 8th place for $8,355. Rossi, who cashed in her first WSOP event 30 years ago, has had plenty of WSOP cashes over the years, many of them in Seven Card Stud tournaments. In 1988 she finished runner up to Loretta Huber in the Ladies Event, which at that time was a $500 Seven Card Stud Event. In 1992 she was runner-up in the $2,500 Stud Event. Rossi’s biggest cash so far came in 2008 when she finished in 4th place of a $1,500 H.O.R.S.E event and took home $68,505.

Another poker player who has been consistently cashing over the years is Ana Marquez. With 1,245,240 in live tournament earnings the Spanish pro has enjoyed a lot of success since she first cashed in a tournament in 2009. This spring she won the High Roller at 888poker live Bucharest for $32,068.

Before playing the WSOP this summer Marquez had not made a WSOP final table, but that changed when she made the final table of Event #28: $3,000 NLH 6-max. Marquez entered the final table as a huge dog with just 10 big blinds and was not able to spin it up, running a pair of sixes into Gary Hasson’s pocket nines. Marquez took home $67,166 for her deep run.

Photo: Katherine Fleck (left) and Ana Marquez

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Two years ago Kate Hoang was heads up for a bracelet in the $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo event. She barely missed becoming the third woman to win an open event that year and had to settle for second place and $182,281.

Yesterday Hoang was once again in a great position to win her first career bracelet, when she faced the French player Julien Martini for an epic heads up battle in Event #4: $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo. Going into heads up play Hoang was slightly behind Martini in chips, but she quickly pulled ahead. Unfortunately her lead would not hold, and after an impressive marathon battle that lasted more than four hours, Hoang eventually had to settle for the second spot and a paycheck worth $148,150.

But the Omaha Hi/Lo specialist from Federal Way, Washington, was not done playing yet and she quickly jumped into the $10,000 Omaha Hi/Lo Championship only to be eliminated later in the night.

With several Omaha events on the WSOP schedule Hoang will have plenty of opportunities for more final tables and deep runs. Let’s hope the third time is the charm for the Vietnamese born poker player who is up to more than $400,000 in live tournament earnings at this point.

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The big online poker series in May have concluded. PokerStars’ SCOOP and 888poker’s XL Inferno are in the books, and both live and online grinders are beginning to look forward to summer camp, the 2018 World Series of Poker. Unfortunately the percentage of women playing live compared to online is still very low, and last year women only made up 4,78% of the WSOP field. If only more women from the online world would travel to the WSOP more women would take home bracelets. Easy-peasy!

Unfortunately it’s not that easy, but a new initiative Poker League of Nations is certainly a step in the right direction. The international poker alliance for women that helps to connect female poker players from all over the world is currently working hard to change the male-dominated poker landscape, and is planning to release more about their plans at the WSOP in June. So make sure to return here for more news about PLON this summer.

A female poker player making the final table of the WSOP Main Event would most certainly see more women compete in the Main Event and other WSOP events too, but only Barbara Enright has made it this far – and 23 years have passed since she finished in 5th place back in 1995. But maybe this is all going to change this year? Let’s take a look at a few players I have picked out for having a shot at winning an open event bracelet this summer or making the Main Event final table.

We all remember when Gaëlle Baumann bubbled the Main Event final table in 2012, and in 2016 she finishing in 102nd place. I would not be surprised to see Baumann make another deep run in the Main Event this year.
Maria Ho is another great candidate for a deep run. Ho has been last woman standing in the Main Event in both 2007 and 2014, and has proven that she excels in large field tournaments. All things considered, Ho is due to win a bracelet this year after coming very close in 2011, when she finished runner up to Allen Bari in Event #4.

Kristen Bicknell is always a force to be reckoned with, and she has been running good and playing even better for a long, long time. Currently ranked 11th on the overall GPI 2018 Player of the Year, she is looking to capture her third bracelet. The same goes for Loni Harwood who is chasing her third bracelet as well.
Linglin Zeng has not yet won a bracelet, but she has been running deep in several events, including finishing in 12th place in the $10,000 Ladies Championship, in 5th place of a $3,000 NLH Event (Event #55) and in 16th place of the Monster Stack Event in 2016. Last year she took 3rd in the $3,000 Shootout Event and 26th in The Little One for One Drop. Very impressive to say the least. In my opinion Zeng is a strong candidate for winning her first bracelet this year.

WSOP is more than No-Limit Hold’em tournaments, and for a PLO bracelet winner I will put my money on 888poker ambassador Vivian Saliba. Saliba has multiple deep runs in PLO tournaments on her resume, among them an 11th place finish in the $10,000 PLO Championship last summer for $47,923.
Candidates for mixed-game bracelets have to be Esther “E-Tay” Taylor-Brady, Shirley Rosario and Carol Fuchs. Fuchs who plays all the games won a bracelet in the $1,500 Dealers Choice Event in 2015, and E-Tay and Rosario have both gone deep in several events over the years.

And then there are all the female poker players we have not yet heard of who might end up taking home one of the 78 gold bracelets that are up for grabs. Just like Dana Castaneda did in 2013 and Safiya Umerova in 2016, just two name two.
Besides the Ladies Championship bracelet I will go with two open event bracelets won by women this summer, not to mention a woman making the final table of the Main Event. Remember, you read it here first!

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