2014 was an amazing year for the top female players from the UK. The year began with Liv Boeree finishing runner-up in UKIPT in Edinburgh for nearly $100k, which she followed up with numerous deep runs that saw her rise to the top spot of the GPI Female Player of the Year Europe. In April Victoria Coren made history when she became the first player to win two EPT Main Event titles and in November Eleanor Gudger completed a great British year by winning the WPT500 at Dusk Till Dawn for $222,177. The event had seven starting flights and attracted a field of 2,133 entries! Besides winning the WPT500 Gudger took 3rd place in the UKIPT High Roller in May for $62k.
Gudger has several deep runs in women-only tournaments on her resume. In 2011 she won the Binion’s Poker Classic Ladies Event and the same year she was runner-up in the Ladies Event at WSOP Europe. In 2013 she finished 6th in the WSOP Ladies Championship in Vegas.
We caught up with Eleanor Gudger to hear about her preparations for the WSOP, her take on women-only tournaments and the change that the WSOP has made to the starting chips amounts.
First of all, huge congrats with winning the WPT500 back in November. Even if six months have passed, the win must have given you a huge confidence boost leading up to the WSOP?
Absolutely; one thing you can be sure to encounter at the WSOP is huge field sizes so to get a win under the belt in a large field NL event helps make success at the WSOP seem more achievable.
Have you planned you schedule for the WSOP?
Not completely yet; we have only just booked to go. My fiance and I have just gotten back from a trip to St Maarten, although primarily a holiday the poker went well there and we got back raring to get back out to Vegas.
What events are you especially looking forward to?
Monster stack and Extended levels for the additional play these offer. I feel the more play you have the more time and chances you have to exploit your opponents and realize your edge, which hopefully in relatively lower buy-in NL events should be substantial.
How do you prepare for the WSOP? And how do you handle the long grind?
I try to make sure I’ve been playing some live poker before I get there rather than just online or the change of pace can be a bit of a shock and difficult to adjust to. Even just some smaller buy-in events to keep you in the right mindset helps, this year the Grosvenor 25/25 event will be in my hometown of Leicester less than a week before we go. Although it is just a £220 buy-in it has a pretty good structure for a two day event so that should help get me get warmed up.
I tend to try avoid making an epic long grind. This year I will be doing a 17 day stint and I find that’s a good amount for me. I don’t want to push myself to a point where I end up burnt out or not enjoying playing. I often talk to people who have long summers and a lot just end up hating Vegas and poker in general.
In 2013 you finished 6th in the Ladies Championship for $27,045. I assume that you are playing the Ladies Event this year too? What’s your take on women-only tournaments? Are they good or bad for poker?
I will be playing the ladies again; I find them to have a fun atmosphere. There really aren’t that many ladies tournaments and one event out of a large WSOP schedule should be available. While the proportion of women in poker is so low anything that can attract women to play in a fun environment can’t be damaging to poker, and hopefully is a great way to encourage women who gain a good experience to try other events in the future.
The WSOP has increased the starting chip amounts in a number of tournaments. For instance you start with 5,000 chips in the $1,000 tournaments and with 7,5000 in the $1,500 ones. Is this change something you welcome?
I think this is a very positive change and more in line with what you see in tournaments in general now. Previously one large pot early on left you feeling crippled in the $1-1.5k events, but hopefully this will provide a bit more wiggle room and importantly more fun for players, especially amateurs, early on. I also anticipate seeing the top tier pros jumping in later into late reg in the lower buy-ins as they’ll still have enough blinds to have a decent spin up without so much time at the tables with heavy schedules focusing on the higher buy-ins.
Do you have a fun, sweet or bitter memory from playing the WSOP in past years, you would like to share with us?
The first time you ever play in the WSOP feels like such a special occasion, the scale of the whole event and the history around gives you a tingle. Coming 6th in the ladies and to make a FT felt great but also painful to be so close but so far to the win.
And the final question: How many bracelets will be won by women at this year’s WSOP?
I’d like to see a good year for women with a good number of very skilled players expected, including mixed event players as well as NL specialists. Lets hope for 5!
Photo: WPT500, Dusk Till Dawn, Nottingham.