PCA 2014: Kathy Saraf crowned queen in Women's Event (again)
Kathy Saraf is this year's Women's Event winner and now $20,150 richer. To achieve that, all she had to do was beat 70 other hungry poker pros of a female persuasion, survive a frantic Day 2, stay focussed on a lengthy final table and pip a Team Online member's girlfriend to the post. Easy peasy.
But wait, hang on a second, Saraf's also the 2012 PCA Women's Event champion. That makes her the first ever double winner of this much-loved $1,100 buy-in tournament, and there ain't nothing easy about that.
"I wasn't going to play the event and I'm really glad I did," said Saraf after her win. "My sister in law wanted to play, and it was her first tournament, so I was like 'okay, if you want to play I'll play'.
"I'm thrilled to win, especially for a trophy this size."
Saraf overcame a final table riddled with some of the biggest talents of the female game. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. To understand the true extent of her victory we need to rewind the clock a few hours. About 24 should do it.
Yesterday 71 players registered for the gender-exclusive event, and when the plug was pulled on the day, Adrienne "Talonchick" Rowsome was our chip leader with 17 left.
Despite being 20 weeks pregnant, Rowsome pushed through the field to bag up 87,300 chips, yet still busted Day 2 short of the final table.
It was a huge turnaround for Rowsome, and it came during a whirlwind of exits in the opening few levels.
No sooner had the 17 players taken their seats before we were down to a final nine. 2012 Women's Event champ Kathy Saraf lead the charge, followed closely by a talented chasing pack, which included the likes of Fatima Moreira de Melo, and this year's standout (and last standing) female player in the PCA Main Event, Loni Harwood.
Danijela Matusinskij was first to be sent back to her room to pack a suitcase after falling to Saraf in ninth. Harwood, Marguerite Spanguolo and Lily Kiletto quickly followed her to the elevators in eighth, seventh and sixth respectively. For a brief moment it looked like the final table would be done in time for everyone to catch a final Bahamian sunset.
Five-handed play put paiy to such wishes.
Over the subsequent few hours, the chip lead was tossed back-and-forth, as the next jump up the payout ladder seemed a leap no one was prepared to take. Amanda Musumeci would eventually be pushed, though, after running QJ into de Melo's aces.
With four players remaining, and the chip lead still hoping round the table pot after pot, it looked as though de Melo would finally claim a first live event win, thanks in bulk to repeating her party trick of spinning a short stack into a title challenge.
Of the 17 who returned for Day 2, de Melo started the day second to last in chips.
"I just looked at it like having 15 big blinds and I was just going to play that stack and see what happens. Usually when I start a day short-stacked I get pretty far still."
She was referring of course to last November's UKIPT Isle of Man event, when the Team SportStar arrived at the final table in last place, before digging deep to finish second and record her biggest ever live cash of $59,660 in the process.
"You have to run good obviously, but in a ladies event I guess they call less so you can build up your stack without going all-in as much," she added. "I played smaller pots to keep the variance a little lower because I thought I had an edge on the field."
Today, de Melo couldn't turn that edge into the win and fell one place short of repeating her UKIPT feat after busting in third.
"It's kind of a bummer because I wanted to win," said de Melo. "I lost a big hand with pocket jacks when my opponent hit a set of three, and then another girl hit a set against my top pair which kind of crippled me. You have to run good to maintain a lead."
Laurence Grondin bust to de Melo in fourth, but the chips piled in front of the Team SportStar made the short hop over to Elena Stover's side of the table after a shove with jack-ten failed to overcome pocket sevens, much to the delight of an onlooking Mickey Petersen.
Stover is Petersen's girlfriend, and the when the Team Online whizz wasn't busy bubbling today's $10,000 Turbo event, he hoped Stover's fourth live tournament cash would come with a free trophy.
"There was a fair bit of breaks in my event, so I had 10 minutes every once in a while to run over," he told the PokerStars Blog. "Obviously every time I went over and she was still in. It's a great thing.
"We sometimes play heads-up matches -- small stakes like who's going to do the dishes."
"I'm up a few matches," added Stover.
"There's no official count," was Petersen's quick response.
Peterstove, or Stoversen (we've not quite decided on the right nickname yet) wouldn't be leaving with the trophy in tow, however. Instead that honor would be Saraf's for a second time in just a three years.
"I'm feeling good but I'm a little disappointed to finish second instead of first," said Stover. "It was a really tough table, and I found it a little weird because there are all these external things going on. You have to think about your cards, the prize pool, people coloring up the chips and I'm really bad at counting stack sizes. So that was a little difficult for me.
"I've had a great time here, and I won a Big $27.50 tournament on PokerStars the other night, so it's been a great week for me."
Petersen's fellow Team Online brethren, Dale 'Daleroxxu' Philip, generously donated a bottle of champagne to the couple to enjoy no matter what today's outcome. Sadly for them it won't be used to toast victory.
In the final hand, Saraf's J♦7♥ overtook Stover's pocket queens thanks to two flopped jacks to become your first Women's Event double champ. She couldn't have been happier.
"I had a chip stack going into Day 2, and I kept that till the final table, so I felt pretty comfortable," said the winner. "And as it got down to four players I wasn't catching anything for about three levels and my chips started to dwindle. Overall though I felt great.
"I haven't thought about how I'll celebrate yet. I did not expect to win so I'm thrilled."
See below for a breakdown of how each of today's final nine got their money, and don't forget to click through to live updates, features and interviews from the $10,000,000 guaranteed PCA Main Event, the $25,000 High Roller and the $100,000 Super High Roller.
$1,100 PCA Women's Event
Prize pool: $66,930
1st: Kathy Saraf - $20,150
2nd: Elena Stover - $14,460
3rd: Fatima Moreira de Melo - $9,400
4th: Laurence Grondin - $7,100
5th: Amanda Musumeci - $5,500
6th: Lily Kiletto $4,260
7th: Marguerite Spagnuolo $3,380
8th: Loni Harwood - $2,620
9th: Danijela Matusinskij - $2,066
Keir Mackay is a copywriter for PokerStars.