Six women entered Day 5 of World Series of Poker Main Event. They were among the lucky and talented 291 players, who had survied four long and exhausting days at the poker tables. Now they were here to battle it out on Day 5 and closer than they had ever been to millions of dollars and the coveted gold bracelet. One of them had tried it before. In 2007 poker pro Maria Ho was the last woman standing. She made it all the way to 38 th place and a cash of $237,865. This time she hoped to go even deeper.
Ruth Graham and Ronit Aharoni
Unfortuately Day 5 was a short one for Ruth Graham. She started the day with 323k (27 bb) and was eliminated in 280th place for $38,634. Ronit Aharoni was even shorter as she brought only 19 big blinds to the table. Aharonit, who qualified for the event online, was out in 248th place for the same cash as Graham.
Cancer Research Supervisor Darlene Lee from Canada started Day 5 with 640k in chips. She was involved in a big pot, which saw her climb up to around 1 million in chips. According to the PokerNews’ blog, Darlene Lee had called an all in with pocket aces and was up against Geoffrey Rasmussen’s pair of deuces. Rasmussen did not improve his hand and was knocked out of the tournament.
But not everything was going Lee’s way and two hours later she was down to only 178k. When Iaron Lightbourne opened for a raise UTG, Lee moved all in with . Lighthouse called with . The board brought another six to give Lee a set and a much need double up.
Lee managed to hold on a couple of hours longer, until she was involved in a four-way all in with AJ. Unfortunately she was up against both a pair of jacks, AK and a pair of fours. The fours hit a set on the flop, and Darlene Lee was eliminated in 113th place. She took home $52,141 for her great run and told her supporters it was the “most fun I’ve ever had stressing out”.
Recreational poker player Marcia Kuntz from Maryland started the day with nearly 1,2 million in chip, and she made it all the way to the final 100. In an interview with Bluff Magazine she said she was a little disappointed with her play on Day 5, and that she “made some key mistakes and lost a lot of chips”. She was nevertheless “thrilled to be in the final 100”, and said it was “above any expectations”.
In the final hand Kuntz 3-bet shoved with and was called by Michael Aron , who had picked up a pair of queens. The board came , and Kuntz was sent home in 91th place with $61,313.
With Kuntz gone Mikiyo Aoki and Maria Ho were the two last women standing. Mikiyo Aoki entered the day with 1,546,000 in chips. She finished runner-up in the Ladies Event this summer, and with the confidence that such an achievement inspires she was on the hunt for another deep run.
At the beginning if the day, Aoki lost 172k, when she called an all in from Michael Schwartz. Schwartz turned over , while Aoki held . The board ran down , and Schwartz’ set of eights won the pot.
Aoki wasn’t discouraged and a couple of hours later, she was involved in a very big pot. According to PokerNews Aoki raised from the button on a board of and her opponenet Eddy Sabat called. The river saw the and Sabat checked. Aoki bet 275,000 and Sabat tanked. After a couple of minutes Sabat said “I need to call the clock on myself”. The statement left the dealer confused and he called over the floor. A member of the floor staff told Sabat, that he could not call the clock on himself. “Clock”, Scott Palmer then said, helping Sabat’s cause. And while the clock was winding down, Sabat made the call. Aoki turned over for a flush, and Sabat mucked his hand. The pot sent Aoki up in top ten with 2,560,000 in chips.
Aoki then lost a pot with AK vs. JK and a big pot against Scott Palmer, where she had to lay down her hand after Palmer moved all in on the turn. Aoki now was down to 1,235,000 in chips. On the last hand of the night, Aoki moved all in preflop with a pair of tens. But unfortunately Eddy Sabat had picked up kings, and the board did not do anything to improve Aoki’s hand.
Aoki finished in 83rd place and collected $72,369 for her impressive run.
With 82 players left, Maria Ho was officially the last woman standing for the second time in her career. Ho started Day 5 with 554k in chips and from the very start she set out to accumulate chips. She steadily chipped up, and a very big pot against Michael Palo saw her raise to nearly 2,7 million in chips.
The action began, when Ho raised to 53k on the button. Palo moved all in from the small blind for around 600k, and Ho called. Ho tabled a par of kings and Palo was in bad shape with . Ho iot a set on the flop and an ace on both the turn and the river to secure her a full house, and Palo was eliminated from the tournament,
Ho then lost 352k, when she called an all in with AK and was up against a pair of tens, and failed to improve. Big slick was not kind to Ho as she lost another 750k, when she called an all in from Greg Himmelbrandt with AQ in the hole, and he caught a queen on the flop. Ho also tangled with Swedish pro Martin Jacobson, and the confrontation didn’t fall in her favor.
In a break PokerNews caught up with the last woman standing to get her opinion on her run in the Main Event so far:
When Day 5 concluded Ho advanced to the next day with 435,000 in chips, and she was the short stack among the final 79 players.
With only 10 big blinds to start the day, Maria Ho knew she had to double up fairly quick to preserve her tournament life, and when she picked up from under the gun, she moved all in with her remaining 320,000 in chips. Zachary Hirst called from the hijack seat and the rest of the table folded.
Unfortunately Hirst had pick up a real hand with , and when a queen hit on the flop, he was well out in front. The turn and river did not change that, and Ho was eliminated in 77th place out of 6,683 players for $85,812.
Even though Ho was not able to surpass her 38th place finish in 2007, her achievement of making it so far and for the second time claim the title as last woman standing is by any means impressive. Only two times before in Main Event history has a female poker player been able to claim the title twice. Annie Duke was last woman standing in 2000 and 2003, and Marsha Waggoner in 1993 and 1997.
Huge congrats to Maria Ho and to the rest of the ladies in the Main Event for making it such a fun and exciting experience.