The final table of the $10,000 Ladies Championship proved to be a tough one. No less than three WSOP Circuit ring winners – Amanda ”Mandy” Baker, Wendy Freedman and Amanda Musumeci – had made it to the final, next to Chinese PokerStars pro Yaxi Zhu, who became the first winner of the China Poker Championship in January this year. Combined those four players have more than $2,5 million in live tournament earnings. But when the last card was dealt it was none of the aforementioned pros who emerged victorious, it was Courtney Kennedy, a poker dealer from Detroit, who had played in the ladies event six times before without cashing.
Going into the final table Wendy Freedman was chip leader with Mandy Baker hot on her heels and Courtney Kennedy in third place. But unfortunately for Freedman, who played a very aggressive game, she was knocked out in 7th place ($17,837) after Yaxi Zhu was the first player to go in 9th ($10,292) and Nicole Schwartz in 8th place ($13,443).
Shelly Johnson-Ochoa from Reno, Nevada, was eliminated in 6th place ($24,037), and with five players left Courtney Kennedy began climbing the chip counts. At this point Mandy Baker was the most active player, and she kept putting the pressure on, while Kennedy played a more passive game, calling and limping a lot, but always showing the best hand when the cards were turned over.
On hand #64 it was over for Amanda Musumeci, who had taken to Twitter during the match to tweet that she was:
As card dead as could be so far. Need helpp #ladies 7 ppl left…
— Amanda Musumeci (@TheReaLMander) July 10, 2016
Unfortunately there was no help for Musumeci, when she ran AK into Kennedy’s pair of nines and had to settle for 5th place ($32,889). British pro Natalia Breviglieri was the next to be sent home packing when she was all in with and got called by Baker with pocket jacks in the hole. Breviglieri took home $45,683 for her 4th place finish.
Down to three players –Baker, Kennedy and Colossus finalist Xiu Deng – Kennedy began betting and raising more to apply pressure on her opponents, and she was the first player to reach the 3 million chips mark. Meanwhile Deng was getting short and she decided to shove with and was called by Kennedy who had . When Kennedy paired her nine on the flop, Deng was eliminated in third place for $64,401.
Going into heads-up play Mandy Baker was a huge dog with only 584,000 (23 bb) in chips vs. Kennedy’s 3,517,000 (146 bb). Even though Baker managed to get a double up, she could not overcome the massive chip deficit, and she was eliminated when she was all in with vs. Kennedy’s and failed to improve. Baker took home $92,121 for a very impressive performance.
The new Ladies World Champion collected the first place prize of $149,108 and the coveted gold bracelet. In her winner’s interview she said, that she was happy just to cash, and that she “never saw this coming”. Huge congrats to Kennedy on her accomplishment – and to all of the 818 women who once again made the Ladies Championship a very fun and compelling event.
Photo: Courtney Kennedy, WSOP.