Lina Niu has won the World Poker Tour Ladies Championship, earning her first live tournament title and the top prize of $105,136.
The 38-year-old entrepreneur from Edmonton, Alberta defeated afield of 578 entries in the $1,100 buy-in event to secure the victory. The strong turnout to the Wynn Las Vegas for this event saw the $200,000 guarantee, the largest ever in a ladies event, more than doubled to final number of $560,660.
The final table began with Niu in the chip lead and Olga Iermolcheva in second chip position. Jamie Kerstetter, a two-time World Series of Poker Circuit ring winner and Creative Producer for WPT Global, was the first to fall at the final table.
Kerstetter’s final hand saw her shove for just shy of ten big blinds with 108 from the small blind. Iermolcheva called from the big blind with K9. The board ran out K8364 and Iermolcheva’s superior pair earned her the pot. Kerstetter took home $21,934 as the sixth-place finisher, the sixth-largest recorded score of her career. She now has $900,237 in lifetime earnings after this latest deep run.
Kathy Liebert, the second-highest-earning female tournament player of all time, was the next to hit the rail. The WSOP bracelet winner and six-time WPT final tablist got all-in with AK facing the pocket sixes of Lina Niu. Niether player found any help from the board and Liebert was eliminated in fifth place, earning $28,847 for her efforts. This was her 423rd recorded tournament cash, with more than $6.8 million in earnings accrued along the way. Vanessa Selbst ($10,899,027 in earnings) is the only female player to cash for more in her career.
A battle of the blinds saw Dusti Smith shove with A-J and Cindy Spier call with A-6. Neither player improved on a 10-high runout and Spier was knocked out in fourth place ( $38,350).
Dusti Smith got all-in on a queen-high flop with her Q-J leading the Q-7 of Niu. A seven on the river game Niu two pair and the pot, though, sending Smith home in third place ($51,538).
With that, Niu entered heads-up play with 9,525,000 to Olga Iermolcheva’s 8,325,000. It took just 11 hands for her to convert that lead into the title. Niu was able to extend his lead in the early going. In the final hand, Niu raised to 450,000 on the button with A6 and Iermolcheva shoved for 3,950,000 with 99. Niu made the call and the board ran out K64A5 to give Niu a winning pair of aces.
Iermolcheva took home $70,008 as the runner-up finisher. She now has $293,191 in lifetime tournament earnings to her name.
Here is a look at the payouts awarded at the final table:
Photo credits: WPT/ Hayley Hochstetler.