Charitable Elizabeth back for more PCA action
by Rebekah Mercer
Winning a satellite to get into the PCA main event is very difficult to do against huge fields of experienced pros, some with million dollar online poker bankrolls. Doing it once is very difficult. Doing it two years running is bucking all the odds -- especially if you're a woman.
Last year Elizabeth Bennett-Martin was one of only 14 women in the entire tournament and one of seven female online qualifiers. She won a $24 satellite to get there. Let me say that one more time -- one of 14 women in a tournament field of 1,347 players. Although an occasional player for four years, this was her first major event and netted her $40,000 for 25th place. She's back again this year, competing against a horde of internet whiz kids and seasoned pros. My money is on her to make it happen again.
I talked to Elizabeth about her two-time satellite win and her plans for the PCA. She's very excited to be coming back to the Atlantis to enjoy a week-long holiday with her family, although if it goes according to plan, they will be on their own for a good part of it. They will most likely be enjoying the pools and slides, the aquarium exhibits, and the endless activities at the Atlantis while she sweats it out in the windowless cavern of a poker room at the Atlantis. She plans to be there every day of her vacation for ten to twelve hours a day - if she makes it to the final table. She wouldn't have it any other way. She's a poker player, and she comes to win. But she also comes to give back.
A portion of her winnings from this year's tournament are designated for a charity which provides funds for education and housing for young women in Cambodia. The charity was formed through Bennett-Martin's law firm, Bennett Gastle P.C. in Toronto, along with the help of her firm's partner, Charles Gastle, and his wife Ruth. The focus of the charity is to provide educational assistance and living expenses to help young women in Cambodia attend law school, and escape a life of poverty. The Cambodian Legal Education for Women (CLEW) was formed to help the women who live in extremely deprived, cramped conditions and sleep on mats on a bare floor. The dormitory has no furniture or cooking facilities, other than hot plates. These women hope to become lawyers to assist a population where legal help is extremely rare (in 2009 there were only 538 lawyers for a population of over 14 million people). For more information on CLEW, see their web site here.
Elizabeth plans to give a portion of her winnings from the main event to the charity if she cashes. In addition, she plans to play the Ladies Event at the PCA this year, and she has designated all of the winnings from that event to go directly to the charity. This is the first year for the Ladies Tournament, and Elizabeth is excited to be a part of the inaugural event and to participate in an event that promotes women in the game.
If you get a chance to chat with Elizabeth at the PCA, she will tell you more about the charity and maybe she will share a few secrets that helped her make it two years running. But I wouldn't count on the secrets part. She didn't get this far by giving away too much -- except when it comes to helping other women who are in need.
You can here more from Elizabeth thanks to this video interview with her at last year's PCA...
Watch PCA 09: Elizabeth Bennett Martin on PokerStars.tv