Online poker tourney makes history

Mar 26, 2002 12:47 AM

The recently concluded tournament set several precedents, not the least of which was crowning a woman champion with a $1 million paycheck.

"It was the largest payoff ever for a Limit Hold’em tournament (first prize was $1,000,000!) and it was the first time a woman, Kathy Liebert, won a championship poker event in which the buy-in was $5,000 or more," said Mike Sexton, founder and host of the tourney.

The tourney was a culmination of a series of online poker tournaments and a mega "live" championship final held aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s "Elation" on March 10.

"The unique format of the tournament could revolutionize tournament poker as we know it," Sexton said. "The PPM allowed the recreational player to qualify online for as little as $22 (100 players qualified online on and also allowed the poker superstars to participate by buying in for $8,000 (39 did so)."

Among the top names to compete, Sexton said, were the reigning World Champion, Carlos Mortensen, and seven former World Poker Champions, as well as many other poker luminaries. "It was exciting for the ”˜little guys’ to compete against the goliaths," Sexton said.

The setting for the finals was the luxurious Cole Porter lounge aboard the Elation. "The place was packed, the atmosphere was electric, and everyone was rooting loudly for their favorite player," Sexton said. "People especially liked the three Internet players that had qualified on ”” people like to root for the underdog."

Of the nine finalists, three qualified online and six were experienced poker veterans, including two former World Champions Chris Ferguson and Phil Hellmuth, one devoted amateur, and three other top-notch professional players, including a woman. Liebert, who was the chip leader after two days of play and sat in third chip position at the start of the final, played beautifully to capture the title and make poker history.

The runner-up was Berj Kacherian, an online qualifier. Kacherian is a data base administrator from Los Angeles, and was a popular choice of the crowd (as was Liebert). He and Liebert played a tenacious three-hour heads-up battle with the lead changing hands nine times before Liebert prevailed. Former World Champion Phil Hellmuth, the all-time leading money winner at the World Series of Poker, finished third.

Linda Johnson and Card Player Cruises hosted the Million. The event was filmed and will be aired on the Travel Channel.

The final standings of the Million:

1st place  

Kathy Liebert  


2nd place  

Berj Kacherian  


3rd place  

Phil Hellmuth  


4th place  

Bruce Yamron  


5th place  

Scott Buller  


6th place  

Chris Ferguson  


7th place  

Mike Yuwiler  


8th place  

Ken Flaton  


9th place  

Mel Judah  


Seat 2   Scott Buller   $34,500