PartyPoker Women's World Open starts Friday

Michelle Orpe
Michelle Orpe will take on the Women's World Open starting Friday.

Women poker players will flock to London on Friday to take part in the second annual PartyPoker Women's World Open.

The Women's World Open features 36 players from around the world competing for a share of a $108,000 prize pool. With female poker players such as Jen Mason, Late Night Poker finalist Maria Demetriou, Xuyen "Bad Girl" Pham, previous World Open winner Pippa Flanders and others, the battle is sure to be a big one.

"The Women's World Open was a big hit last year, and we're delighted to see it coming back for its second year. It is one of the most popular events in the eyes of international broadcasters," said Eddie Hearn, head of online gambling at Matchroom Sport, the organizer of the event.

Bev Pace was the winner of the first PartyPoker Women's World Open in 2007, and she will return to defend her title. Pace is the wife of comedian and poker player Norman Pace.

She had to defeat Mason to earn the $50,000 top prize in 2007. The heads-up battle was a roller-coaster of ups and downs as the two traded the chip lead back and forth, but in the end Pace's pocket sixes would hold up against Mason's A-J offsuit for the win.

If Pace wants to duplicate that win, she'll also have to make her way through the former European Ladies champion Jackie Meecham, plus Katharine Hartree, comedienne Lucy Porter, Michelle Orpe, Shelley Rubenstein, Christine Klecz and Stefanie Bergener.

"Last year's champion Bev Pace is hotly tipped to run well again this year," said a PartyPoker spokesman. "Most pundits are also pointing to Jen Mason and Maria Demetriou as ones to watch."

All the women pay $3,000 to enter the tournament, which stretches over four days to come down to a winner on Oct. 6. The tournament has the same format as the PartyPoker World Open, with the only differences being the field size and the all-female playing field.

Women-only tournaments have been a hotly debated topic in the poker world. Some female pros are against the all-women tournaments because poker is one sport where sex-specific physiology doesn't make a difference in how well a person plays. There are many who think the all-female tourneys help bring more women to the game, though.

"Women's tournaments are good for getting more ladies interested in poker," Pace said after her 2007 win. "The standard is no different to a mixed-sex game, but they do encourage some to come forward who wouldn't do otherwise."

Poker fans in the United Kingdom will get to check out the all-women poker playing next year when the Women's Poker Open II airs on Five. It will then be distributed internationally as well.

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