I helped cover the final table of Event No. 22, the $1,000 buy-in Ladies Hold’em Championship yesterday for PokerNews. We were over on the main stage for this one, and our tournament director/announcer Robbie Thompson was managing the proceedings. All who’ve been around the WSOP know Robbie as one of the best at what he does. He’s also a very witty guy who keeps things fun for players, media, and the audience.
Those who’ve worked a lot of final tables there also know Robbie tends to down more Red Bulls than might seem humanly possible. I unthinkingly set a line at six early on yesterday, but he’d already passed that by the second hour.
Anyhow, we were near the end of a break yesterday and I was seated behind my laptop when Robbie cracked open another Red Bull. The can had been shaken apparently, and there was a huge slapsticky spray that instantly covered the table and me. As play was about to start, I had to endure a period of sticky, fragrant blogging for the next stretch. (In fact, just writing about it this morning I think I can still smell that sickly-sweet Red Bull just a little.)
Overall it was more funny than inconvenient, though. A few minutes later Robbie stopped over and commented that when he walked around the stage there was now a squishing noise.
There was a short break at the end of the next level -- just five minutes -- so I dashed to the restroom to wash my hands at least. I raced down the Rio hallway, and took a few steps inside the restroom when I looked up and saw someone washing her hands.
That’s right. Her hands. I’d run into the women’s. No shinola.
Never made that mistake at the Rio before, so thought it a little uncanny I’d somehow manage to do it on the day I was covering the final table of the Ladies event.
I quickly put it in reverse, found my designated restroom, and all was well.
The final table itself went especially quickly yesterday, done not even six hours after it had begun. Vanessa Hellebuyck of France came out on top, with Sidsel Boesen of Denmark finishing second and Timmi Derosa of California finishing third.
Kami Chisholm -- who had the best nickname at the final table, “Dr. Kamikaze” -- roared out to a huge lead early on, taking a lot of chips from start-of-day chip leader Boesen in the process. But there were no eliminations during that stretch. We finally lost a super short stack (Loren Watterworth) right at the end of Level 21, about 90 minutes after we’d begun yesterday. Then once they moved to Level 22 things picked up considerably.
By then the average stack was just under 400,000, so with the blinds at 10,000/20,000 in Level 22, we were looking at an average of 20 BBs per player. So it wasn’t surprising to see a lot of eliminations in rapid order from that point.
There were two big “hands of the day” that really decided this one. One was a blind-vs.-blind hand between Chisholm and Boesen in which Chisholm picked a bad time to make a move, check raising all-in before the flop when Boesen had pocket rockets. (Kind of a “Kamikaze”-seeming hand, actually.) The other was a very interesting hand between Derosa and Hellebuyck once they’d gotten to three-handed.
Timmi Derosa is Lee Watkinson’s fiancée, a friendly person who tended to stand out even on Day 2 when she frequently engaged me or the reporters as we passed by.
She stood out fashion-wise, too, at yesterday’s final table. I don’t want to get too carried away with analyzing the women’s appearance and dress, as our culture tends to do in just about every situation. It was clear, though, that Derosa, made up and dressed to the nines in an ensemble topped by a fur (or faux fur) boa, looked differently than her opponents, many of whom wore baseball caps and hoodies -- what one might call typical “poker fashion.”
I probably wouldn’t even bring it up, but during one break Derosa came over to talk to me about a hand she had played and then brought it up herself, saying something about the final table being special occasion. I mostly just nodded, not really wanting to offer my own uncertain opinions on the matter. It was interesting, though, to notice how when it had gotten to five-handed, it just so happened Derosa was sitting on one end of the table, and her four opponents were all in seats 1-4 at the other end, thereby making the contrast in fashion even more evident.
Anyhow, to get back to the hand, Derosa and Hellebuyck had gotten to the turn on a nine-high board, and Derosa acting first pushed all in. Hellebuyck went deep into the tank, made the big call with middle pair and both flush and straight draws, and Derosa tabled a couple of overcards with Q-J. (You can read the full write-up of the hand here.) It was a big move by Derosa, and Hellebuyck had matched it with a big call.
As was the case on Day 2, there were a lot of supporters for just about all of the players in the full bleachers, and I found myself, too, pulling for each of the players as the night wore on. That tends to happen to me at most final tables, though perhaps I felt that way a little more last night -- not so much because the players were women, but because almost all were amateur players (only Chisholm and La Sengphet, I believe, could be called pros). In their bios most had full-time jobs listed or references to family, unlike often happens with the final table full of young male players who play poker 24-7.
All in all a fun evening in which the tone was primarily celebratory, in contrast to the controversy-filled hours of Day 1. (That is a pic of Hellebuyck and some of her supports following her victory.)
Indeed, the only reference to the controversies of Day 1 -- when some men played in the event as a protest of having ladies-only tourney -- came just prior to the start of yesterday’s final table. WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla came to say a few words of support for the nine women at the final table, and indicated -- quite adamantly -- that the WSOP would always have a Ladies Championship event.
A day off for me today, then it is on to Event No. 28, the $2,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event, starting Tuesday. Won’t be that long, really, before we’re talking about the Main Event. Something to look forward to, then.
However, what I’m really looking forward to is Vera coming later in the week. As was the case the last couple of summers, it has been hard to be away from home like this -- even more so, after that extra journey to Peru last week. Easily the worst part of the gig. Am looking at this being the last time I do this WSOP thing full-time. Seven weeks away is really too long.
Indeed, as I was just saying about those women’s bios from the final table, while some can make poker a top priority -- or even the only priority -- most of us have other things that are much, much more important. Hellebuyck, the winner of the event, listed on her sheet that she is selective with her tourney playing because she prefers to spend time with her two daughters.
I think most of us can identify with that. I know I can, which is why this will be the last summer I try to keep up with the other marathoners out here. I miss Vera too much.
And Sweetie, our brilliant cat.
Gonna go take a shower now. Maybe then I won’t be smelling Red Bull anymore.