Has a woman ever won the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event?

By Steve Beauregard

No. In fact, only one woman has ever made the final table, when Barbara Enright did it in 1995. (To be clear, we’re talking about the real WSOP in Las Vegas. In 2007, a then 19 year-old Annette Obrestad won the WSOP Europe, but I really don’t count that).

Others, however, have been tantalizingly close to final tabling the WSOP Main Event, including in 2012, when female entrants finished 10th and 11th. Poker fans who follow the tournament always seem to have a deep interest in seeing who the “last woman standing” is, given the very low percentage of female participants.

Kara Scott cashed in back to back WSOP Main Events
Kara Scott cashed in back to back WSOP Main Events

That lone female final table finalist, Barbara Enright, is perhaps the most accomplished female tournament poker player of all time. While Jennifer Harman is probably the most successful (and richest) cash game player, all ladies have to defer to Mrs. Enright’s rich tournament poker history.

Enright owns three WSOP bracelets – a feat accomplished by only two other players. She has collected over $450,000 in combined WSOP and WSOP Circuit winnings. According to the Hendon Mob poker database, Barbara Enright has won over $1.58 million in tournament poker. Included in that figure are her two wins in the WSOP Ladies Tournament.

Two hundred and seventy-three entrants paid the $10,000 entry fee to play in the 1995 World Series of Poker Main Event, and Enright’s 5th place finish netted her $114,180. That was the year Dan Harrington won the bracelet and million dollar first prize.

Arguably, her best WSOP Main Event performance took place in 2005, when she finished 286th. There were 5,619 players entered in that tournament, meaning Enright outlasted 5,332 people on her way to 286th place and a $24,365 payday.

(Go here to see if a woman has ever won a WSOP bracelet)

In the “oh so close” department, three ladies have been just one player away from making the WSOP Main Event final table.

Popular poker professional Susie Isaacs finished 10th in the 1998 WSOP Main Event for $40,000. That same year, Kathy Liebert, who is second on the list of all-time tournament winnings by a female, finished in 17th place.

Unpopular poker professional Annie Duke finished 10th in 2000, good for a $52,160. That was the year Chris Jesus Ferguson took home the bracelet. The tournament was immortalized in the great, best-selling book, “Positively Fifth Street,” by Jim McManus.

Despite her poker success, Duke is widely despised in the poker community for her personality and her association with the cheating scumbags at Ultimate Bet.

Oddly enough, Kathy Liebert (who finished 17th in 1998), also finished 17th during Annie Duke’s near-miss at the final table.

Liebert is a very accomplished tournament player, having won a bracelet and cashing in over a million in winnings, when you combine the WSOP and WSOP Circuit results. Like me, Liebert started her poker journey playing low-limit hold’em poker in Blackhawk, Colorado. Unlike me, she went on to poker stardom, which is fine, because in terms of winnings, I’m just about a million behind her.

Not one, but two females nearly made it to the final table in 2012, when there were two ladies left standing out of only 11 players left. Unfortunately for the female poker fans, both women were eliminated before the final table of nine players was set.

Elisabeth Hille, who hails from Norway and who was born in Bergen, Norway, was waitressing tables at the time of her 2010 Main Event Entry. Hille was knocked out in 11th place and won $590,442. She’s now a poker ambassador for Betfair.com, traveling the world on the tournament poker, but still waitresses some.

With ten players left, Gaelle Baumann nearly became only the second woman in WSOP history to make the final table of the Main Event, but like Susie Isaacs and Annie Duke before her, finished agonizingly close, going out in a heartbreaking 10th place. (I guess not TOO heartbreaking, as Baumann collected $610,710 for her efforts.)

The $610,710 payday means Baumann holds the record for the largest cash amongst female players ever in the history of the World Series of Poker. Her winnings for 10th place are just a tad higher than what Ally Jaffrey Shulman, wife of Cardplayer magazine owner Barry Shulman, won when she took home 2012 Seniors $1,000 tournament. Shulman’s 1st place money prize was $603,713.

Other notable performances at the World Series of Poker Main Event include that of black female lawyer named Tiffany Williamson, who, during the 2005 tournament, became the butt of knowledgeable poker players everywhere for her, (ahem) questionable play. Not only did she take an extremely long time to make a decision, she made very odd plays, such as calling an all-in bet (while she had lots of chips left) with a King/Jack. (But they were soooooted.)

Williamson lucked her way into 15th place, winning $400,000.

Another annoying Tiffany made a deep run three years later. Tiffany Michelle, who you may have seen on the CBS reality show, “Amazing Race” or on the Food Network’s “Worst Cooks in America,” was featured frequently during the 2008 Main Event. She had an obnoxious demeanor, and even broke poker protocol by calling the clock on another player while he was in the middle of deciding what to do in a hand.

Michelle finished 17th in the tournament, winning $334,534. Normally that wouldn’t be headline news, but since, unlike most poker players, she has female body parts, she was able to parlay that 17th place into numerous television and magazine appearances and even some endorsement opportunities. I’ve even seen her during a broadcast of the Heartland Poker Tour, where her “Amazing Race” partner, poker pro Maria Ho, is the color commentator.

A more pleasant female poker player, Kara Scott, made back-to-back Main Event cashes, finishing 104th in 2008, and 238th in 2009. The attractive Scott garnered a lot of ESPN time during her run, and she now is a reporter for the network during their poker broadcasts.