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In 2005, the
World Poker Tour held their third annual Ladies Invitational at The Bicycle Casino. Once again, they invited the reigning champion,
Isabelle Mercier and four other women, Marsha
Waggoner, Cecilia Mortenson, Lily Elviro, and
Jennifer Tilly. The last seat had to be earned
the hard way. London Gallagher beat 565 other women in a ladies event the night before the Invitational and won that final seat.
The players on this episode happened to be the wives and girlfriends of some well known poker pros. Jennifer Tilly, reigning
champion of the World Series of Poker Ladies Event is the girlfriend of Phil "The Unabomber" Laak. Lily Elviro is the
girlfriend of WPT Commerce Champion, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi. Marsha Waggoner and Cecilia Mortenson are the spouses
of Kenna James and Carlos Mortenson respectively. It was going to be interesting to see if the "significant other's" playing
style showed up during the televised event. One would think that each couple has discussed poker strategy from time to time
and their playing style might be similar.
The show didn't get off to a great start. Vince started by saying, "Let the cat fight begin." It took a few hands before the women started
to tangle, but after they warmed up they battled. The disappointing thing was that it looked like a couple of the women had some talent, but the blind
structure of the event didn't allow for the talent to show itself
on television. Isabelle was my favorite to win the event. Not only is she sweet, but she is a talented and aggressive poker player. We saw by watching
Isabelle that if you didn't catch any cards in the beginning of the tournament, you were forced to play with a really short stack and your moves were limited.
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London Gallager was the first person eliminated after she lost a large portion of her chips on one of the first hands of the evening. She made a move with a
straight draw, but unfortunately Marhsa
had top pair with an ace kicker and wasn't going anywhere. After that hand, London wasn't left with many chips and played a
few hands before being eliminated with KQ against Cecilia's pocket deuces. This hand was a key hand in Isabelle's mind.
Cecilia raised to $50,000 and after some thought, Isabelle decided to lay her AQ down. London ended up moving in for an
additional $38,000 and Cecilia called. I am not sure how the hand would have played out if Isabelle had moved in, but I do
see her point. If she had moved in and London had called, then I highly doubt that Cecilia would have
overcalled. Isabelle would have won the hand and had enough
chips to work with. Because she didn't have enough chips, she was eliminated in fifth place. Jennifer called the $16,000 big blind in first
position with K6 offsuit, Marsha raised
to $71,000 with pocket sevens, Isabelle moved all-in with pocket queens, Jennifer folded, and Marsha called an additional $61,000. Marsha flopped a
set of sevens and Isabelle never improved.
Cecilia was the next person to go when she moved all-in from the small blind with Q8 of spades and Jennifer called from the
big blind with A3 offsuit. The flop was K53 with all hearts and Jennifer had the ace of hearts. The turn was a five of
spades and the river was an ace of diamonds. Cecilia finished in fourth place. Marsha was the next to go when bad timing
gave her A6 at the same time Lily held AK. Lily's hand held up on a board of T92AQ and Marsha was eliminated in third place.
Jennifer had Lily out-chipped, but Lily had been playing solid poker (and had most likely been coached a bit by The
Grinder), so she had a decent chance of overcoming the deficit. Unfortunately, she let Jennifer get the best of her. From
the few hands we saw on television, she let Jennifer steal several pots from her. By the time she took a stand, she didn't
have enough chips to make Jennifer go away. Jennifer raised the $40,000 big blind to $200,000 with J7 of clubs and Lily
moved all-in for $320,000 with T7 of spades. The flop was Q52 and the turn was a jack giving Jennifer Tilly the win and a
WPT title to along with her WSOP bracelet.
On a side note: One thing I learned from this tournament: Don't mess with Tilly's
Ladies Invitational 1 and