Deb Blair, from Tucson, Ariz., is now Arizona's top female poker player after winning the inaugural Arizona Ladies State Poker Championship Saturday at Casino Arizona. She defeated 400 entrants to claim the $40,000 cash prize, $7,000 diamond pendant necklace, and a championship trophy.
"I am ecstatic and proud to have won first place in the Casino Arizona's Ladies State Poker Championship," Blair said. "I left my house at 6 a.m. and drove all the way from Tucson to get here, and I am sure glad I did. This was my first time playing at Casino Arizona, and I had a really good experience."
When the tournament launched at 9 a.m. Sept. 16, 400 ladies had shown up for the event. Of those, 80% were from Arizona and the rest had traveled from across the country to play. Nearly 13 hours later, Blair was crowned the winner.
Blair, who plays poker once or twice a week, plans to use her winnings for her children's college funds. She'll also use part of the money to make an upcoming family vacation to Disneyland even better.
Arizona natives also took the second and third place spots in the tournament. Jennifer Grey, of Gilbert, placed second and won $20,000 plus a trophy. Kate Erbe, from Anthem, came in third for $11,000 and a trophy.
"Casino Arizona's inaugural Ladies State Poker Championship event was so successful that we are already planning for next year," said Kent Odekirk, Casino Arizona card room manager. "We expect it to be bigger and better, potentially drawing more than 500 ladies."