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Kristy Gazes Wins WPT Ladies Night

The Invitational Event Awarded a $25,000 Seat Into the WPT Championship


The World Poker Tour Ladies Night is the one event each season that is reserved for women. This year, the impressive roster included Melissa Hayden, Linda Johnson, Pamela Brunson, Kristy Gazes, Mimi Tran, and J.J. Liu. After a battle of skill, luck, and woman power, it was Gazes who took down the fifth-annual event.

Kristy Gazes

"2007 Champion Kristy Gazes" "2006 Champion J.J. Liu"

Right out of the gates, it looked as though it was destiny for Gazes to win as she knocked out the defending champion, Liu, on the very first hand. Gazes flopped middle set with pocket tens while Liu hit top pair with top kicker, holding ace-king as her downcards. It was all in on the river, and the battle for a guaranteed new ladies champion began.

"Melissa Hayden" "Mimi Tran"

The next woman to go was poker pro (and girlfriend of Allen Cunningham) Hayden. She was knocked out by high-stakes cash game player Tran. Tran's mentor and close friend Barry Greenstein, along with his son, Joe Sebok, were there rooting her on.

During one of the breaks, Greenstein also caught some attention when he serenaded the WPT hostess, Layla Kayleigh. The "Robin Hood of Poker" must have been feeling extra generous, because he donated a healthy portion of Elton John's "Your Song" to Kayleigh while on one knee.

Unfortunately for him, all of the cheering and serenading were of no help to Tran when her ace-10 failed to improve against Johnson's pocket tens. Tran exited in fourth place.

Every year, one seat is reserved for the winner of the Bicycle Casino's ladies event during the Legends of Poker. This year, the winner was the daughter of the "Godfather of Poker" himself, Doyle Brunson. Pamela Brunson was fresh off of a deep finish in the $10,000 main event of the Legends of Poker, but failed to continue her run. She was eliminated in third place by the "First Lady of Poker," Johnson.

Johnson usually announces the WPT final table action, but took a break to compete. She went into heads-up play as a more than 2-1 dog against Gazes.

"I thought I was going to be heads up with Linda Johnson for some reason. I just had a feeling, I don't know why," Gazes said with a smile. "I don't think I'm that great or anything, it's just that sometimes you get a premonition. I just had a feeling."

Both players were familiar with each other's play from years of competing in mixed cash games together. The heads-up battle was brief and ended in somewhat of a cold-deck situation. Johnson had pocket jacks but ran into Gazes pocket kings. All of the money went into the pot preflop, and the board brought no help for Johnson.

"It's great," said Gazes. "It's a World Poker Tour title. I'd love to win a 10K event; that's next. This will be my 11th WPT cash. It means a lot. I love the World Poker Tour. They are the only tournaments I play in, nowadays."

Gazes now has a $25,000 seat into the World Poker Tour championship event in April, 2008 where she will compete for millions more dollars.