Will 2012 be the Year of the Women for ANZPT?

Thumbnail image for PS Women logo.jpgPoker tour destinations afford poker pros, cashed-up entrepreneurs and satellite winners the opportunity to tick off some dream travel destinations around the globe. While the current hype surrounds the glitz and glamour of the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final, on the other side of the map, there are plenty of ladies adding a little glamour to the tables on the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour. Taking a look back at the history of the ANZPT since it began in 2009, there have been several impressive and consistent performances from females on the tour, but we are still looking for our first female ANZPT champion to be crowned. This could be the year to make it happen.

The inaugural season of the ANZPT was the biggest year for women on the tour, with two final table results. In the very first event in Adelaide in 2009, it was Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin who added some glamour to the final showdown. Lin managed a seventh-place finish, taking home AU$23,475 for her efforts. It wouldn't take long until the Shanghai-born beauty would hold a major trophy, as the first female to win a Macau Poker Cup later that year. The $50,932 lion's share is Lin's biggest live tournament score to date and helped her get within a sniff of the top 100 Australian All Time Money tournament earners. Over the past 12 months Lin has focused more on the growing live poker scene in her home base of Macau where she has been regularly spotted at Macau Poker Cup events and on the Asia Pacific Poker Tour.

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Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin

But it was a 49-year-old mother-of six from Australia's sunshine state of Queensland who would give us the closest chance to a female ANZPT championship. One well versed in risk-reward and investment strategies, mortgage broker Lisa Walsh banked AU$162,690 for her runner-up finish in the 2009 ANZPT Sydney to a courageous victor in Paren "Puzz" Arzoomanian.

The highest female to rank on the Australian All Time Money List tournament winnings is Amanda De Cesare. The speech pathologist from Melbourne burst on to the local poker scene when she won The Poker Star, a reality TV show hosted by Joe Hachem. The then 34-year old single mother of two was crowned the winner of the show after proving herself to have the ideal characteristics of a poker player. De Cesare won the juicy prize of $100,000 and entry into four major events (Aussie Millions, APPT Grand Final, EPT Monte Carlo and WSOP Main Event). Within the poker community, De Cesare's poker skills were scrutinized on public forums, however hosts and mentors, Hachem along with Lee Nelson, saw star qualities in their new protégé. Their decision was validated just one week after the final episode was aired, when De Cesare took down the Joe Hachem Deep Stack Series 3 Main Event for AU$77,500. In a dream year, De Cesare also final tabled the 2010 ANZPT Melbourne, finishing in 4th place for AU$52,261 to squash any lingering doubts of her ability.


Amanda De Cesare

Other ladies to get close to ANZPT immortality include Kristina Jenney (Griffiths) who shared the 2010 ANZPT Melbourne final table with De Cesare. Jenney finished in 6th place (AU$33,846) that year, and more recently finished in 15th place (AU$9,220) at the ANZPT Sydney last month. Selina Bodel also finished just shy of an ANZPT final table, with her 10th place at the 2010 ANZPT Canberra worth AU$6,878.

The 2012 ANZPT kicked off last month, with the Main Event in Sydney outlaying a tempting AU$922,000 prize pool. Perth, the capital of western Australia, is the next stop on the tour and while it may not have millionaires zooming around stunning Mediterranean cliff tops in ridiculously expensive fast cars like Monte Carlo, it does have a certain charm all its own. If it's sunshine, white sandy beaches, the freshest seafood and top surf in a laid-back sun-kissed rhythm that you're after, Perth delivers in spades. And if it's poker immortality, by re-writing this history and becoming the first ANZPT female champion you're after, then I'd gladly document your glory.

Kirsty Mullins
@PokerStars in PS Women