No woman has ever won an open international WPT title. I February last year Mette-Louise Christiansen won the WPT National Vejle in Denmark, defeating another female player, Tina Christensen, heads-up, and back in 2011 Russian poker player Natalia Nikitina took down the WPT National Paris at the Aviation Club. But we still have not crowned a female champion of one of the open international WPTs. And that’s a bit odd, considering we have three female EPT-champions: Liv Boeree, Sandra Naujoks and Victoria Coren, who’s also the first two-time EPT winner. But that might all change today, when Esther Taylor-Brady sits down at the six-handed final table of WPT Borgata to play down to a winner, the trophy and the $712,305 first place prize.
At the start of Day 4 Taylor-Brady had company of WSOP bracelet winner Loni Harwood, but unfortunately Harwood was one of the first players to be eliminated, when she lost a race with AQ vs Shawn Cunix’ pair of eights. Harwood took home $14,879 for her 25th place finish.
Now Taylor-Brady was last woman standing and with 21 players left, she was 8th in chips and looking good. But the final table was still far away and it proved to be a rollercoaster ride to get there. Down to 17 players Taylor-Brady was involved in two hands, that saw her stack slide to only 12 big blinds. First she had to let her hand go after a raising war with Barry Leventhal on a flop of and then she lost a pre-flop battle with Eugene Todd, where she ended up folding.
With just 12 big blinds left Taylor-Brady was not going to slow down, and the WPT blog reports that she was all in preflop three times over 10 minutes, which build her stack up to nearly 800,000.
Before dinner break and with 12 players left Taylor-Brady was involved in a big pot vs. Michael Wang. The action started with Taylor-Brady raising to 105k from middle position. Justin Lunin-Pack and Michael Wang both called. The flop came and Wang checked from the big blind. Taylor-Brady continued for 155k, Lunin-Pack folded and Wang called. Both players checked the on the turn. The river was the and Wang now bet 435k which Taylor-Brady instantly called with top two , while Wang showed his lesser two pair with . The hand saw Taylor-Brady’s stack grow to 2,1000,000 (42 bb).
After the dinner break and with 9 players left, Taylor-Brady kept her momentum going. In a hand with Eugene Todd Taylor-Brady reached the 4 million mark. The action started with Taylor-Brady raising from early position to 130,000 and Todd reraising to 360,000 out of the big blind, which Taylor-Brady called. The flop came and Todd bet 255,000. Taylor-Brady called. The turn brought the and Todd now bet 475,000. Taylor-Brady called once more. On the river Todd slowed down and checked, while Taylor-Brady bet 400,000. Todd called a Taylor-Brady showed .
With the elimination of Michael Wang in 9th place and Philippe Belley in 8th place, only one more player had to go before the final table of six was set. The unfortunate final table bubble boy was Casey Yontz who moved all in with A8 and was called by Eugene Todd with AQ – and failed to improve.
Seat assignments and chip counts of the final six players:
Seat 1: Esther Taylor-Brady: 4,020,000 (40 bb)
Seat 2: Aaron Mermelstein: 7,160,000 (72 bb)
Seat 3: Randy Pfeifer: 1,985,000 (20 bb)
Seat 4: Shawn Cunix: 8,880,000 (89 bb)
Seat 5: Eugene Todd: 5,150,000 (52 bb)
Seat 6: Justin Liberto: 2,500,000 (25 bb)
With 40 big blinds Esther Taylor-Brady is in good shape going into the final table, and with the impressive stamina and the mental strength she has shown, we are not afraid to claim her one of the favorites to win the title. On Twitter Taylor-Brady, aka E-Tay, thanked for all the support:
I'm still in shock. I hope I can make you all proud. You're support is overwhelming and appreciated. This is a dream come true for me. #wpt
— esther taylor-brady (@e_tay) January 30, 2015
The live stream from the final table will start Friday at 3 pm local time. PokerWomenNews wish Esther Taylor-Brady the very best of luck and run good and hope to see her crowned as the first female WPT champion of an open international WPT event.
Photo: Esther Taylor-Brady, WPT Borgata