Luck be a lady!

March 11, 2008 6:00 PM
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By GT Staff | History was made last week as the World Poker Tour crowned its first-ever female poker champion.

Van Nguyen, wife of poker pro Men "The Master" Nguyen, beat 444 players to capture the sixth annual WPT Invitational hosted by the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles.

The victory was the first for a female player in a major televised WPT event.

The three-day WPT Invitational event was a star-studded affair that lined up celebrities with top poker pros.

"This great sport of poker is the only one that focuses on an individual’s skill – regardless of gender – and we’re thrilled the time has finally come to celebrate a female WPT Champion," said Steve Lipscomb, founder, creator and CEO of the WPT.

"It was only a matter of time before a female took down a major WPT tournament, and what better way to mark this historic event than Van Nguyen battling for the title while her husband – a well-respected pro – cheered her on from the audience. Her win is one of many recent events that solidify women as a major force to be reckoned with on and off the tables."

The WPT Invitational also captured center stage for being the first ever five-seat final table. With eight players remaining, three players went all in resulting in Beverly Kuskol and Debby Perkins going out together sending five players to the final table.

 The fifth place finish went to notable writer Elias Madias while Associate Publisher of Card Player Magazine Justin Marchand came in fourth. Poker Hall of Famer Billy Baxter saw a third place finish. Ethan Ruby, a founder of Poker4Life, which is associated with The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, placed an impressive second after securing his WPT Invitational seat donated by Ambassador of Poker, Mike Sexton, for a Poker4Life charity tournament.

The Invitational, which is the most glamorous tournament on the poker circuit, kicked off on March 1 with red carpet arrivals from Hollywood stars including James Woods, Don Cheadle, Oliver Hudson, Ricki Lake, Michael Vartan, Jennifer Tilly, Camryn Manheim, Norm McDonald, Ron Livingston, Jeremy London, Tia Carrere, Montel Williams, Josh Malina, Eric Palladino, Mimi Rogers, Johnathon Schaech, Jeremy Sisto and many others.

The last 10 celebrities standing received a piece of a $20,000 prize pool courtesy of Harbor Private Funds, LLC to donate to the charity of their choice. WPT Ladies charity partner Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Harbor Private Funds’ Harbor Foundation, and Crocs, Inc.’s Soles United, also received a $2,500 donation from WPT.

Poker fans will be able to catch the action on July 21, when the WPT event will be televised on WPT’s new network home, GSN.

For more information, visit http://liveupdates.worldpokertour.com/tournament/.

The WPT tournament’s host, Commerce Casino, is the largest poker casino in the world. There are more than 200 tables featuring just about every form of poker.