WPT Ladies heads for Commerce Casino

Regette Bacara

After a highly successful start in January at the Borgata in Atlantic City, the World Poker Tour Ladies Tour surges into the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles this Sunday.

On Jan. 20, the WPT Ladies came to the felt in Atlantic City for the inaugural event of the five-stop tour. By all indications, it was a great success.

Sitting down at the felt to battle it out for the first WPT Ladies championship, a seat at the WPT Ladies Championship at the Bellagio in April and a $33,321 first-place prize were 383 women.

"Not only were we (the WPT) excited by the turnout, the ladies themselves were thrilled with the event and stated that they would be back to play at the tournament in Foxwoods," stated Lyndsay LaGree, the senior manager of public relations with the WPT.

"For many of the women that played in the event, it was a chance for them to step up and play in a strong tournament without having to put up a huge buy-in," LaGree said. "The women involved said they had played home games extensively but (the Borgata tournament) was an opportunity for them to enter into the tournament world. We're very happy to have provided such an outlet for the ladies."

The $300 WPT Ladies event at the Borgata didn't lack for strong female players either. Jane Gold, the mother of 2006 World Champion Jamie Gold, has obviously been picking up some poker knowledge from her son, as she finished in 15th place. Making the final table was another notable name in Olga Varkonyi, the wife of 2002 World Champion Robert Varkonyi. Varkonyi played strategically but, as luck would have it, finished fourth to the eventual champion, Regette Bechara.

The second stop of the WPT Ladies at the Commerce on Sunday may not see as large a field as the Borgata event. However, organizers expect it will continue the trend of solid play and heated competition.

"With the larger buy-in ($1,000 versus the $300 at the Borgata), the Women in Poker Hall of Fame festivities in Las Vegas and, of course, the Super Bowl, the tournament could be smaller than what we had at the Borgata, but it should be a very challenging event," LaGree commented.

Indeed, history indicates that the top women players in Los Angeles enjoy this tournament; the same event and buy-in in 2007 attracted 110 players and was won by local player Euna Jee.

One of the special things about the WPT Ladies events is the ongoing connection between the WPT and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. Players and spectators will have the opportunity to make on-site donations to Komen for the Cure which, as Commerce Casino PR representative Jackie Lapin said, is just as important as the tournament itself.

"We've had a long-term relationship with the Komen Foundation, the world's largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to find a cure for breast cancer, and it is a worthy campaign for all of us to get behind, not to mention a strong tournament for the ladies to play in," Lapin said.

After the stop at the Commerce, the WPT Ladies tour will continue to the Bay 101 casino in San Jose and Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut in March. The tour will culminate with the WPT Ladies Championship at the Bellagio in April, with the final table being taped for television broadcast on GSN.

The WPT Ladies tournament this Sunday should give women a chance to battle it out on the felt for a WPT championship, empathize with other women poker players and escape testosterone-poisoned Super Bowl environments.

For more details on the tournament or directions to the Commerce Casino for the event this weekend, visit CommerceCasino.com or WorldPokerTour.com/wptladies.

Related Article: WPT Launches Ladies Tour

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