We celebrated international women’s day in March and the spotlight has been on the topic of women in poker this month. Most of the coverage recently on social media regarding women in poker have been regarding the struggles they go through when playing the game. Gender bias, discrimination, and other negative experiences have been responsible for holding them back from pursuing a career in poker.
Vanessa Kade’s recent spat with GGPoker and Dan Bilzerian has become a major turning point in her poker career. After GGPoker ditched her, owing to comments she made against Bilzerian, Americas Cardroom (ACR) saw Kade’s potential and signed her as a member of Team ACR Pros, putting her name alongside poker icon Chris Moneymaker.
Kade emerged victorious during the PokerStars’ Sunday Million 15th anniversary event, her biggest win yet, taking home $1.5 million. Interesting stories like Vanessa Kade’s deliver a message of hope to aspiring female players – that you can make it big in the game, regardless of your gender.
Kade’s Sunday Million victory has catapulted her into the top 10 list of female poker pros who won seven figures in a single tournament – a major feat yet to be achieved by even the world’s best female players, such as Maria Ho, Vanessa Rousso, and Kristin Bicknell.
But there are other female players who won more than Kade’s $1.5 million. Let’s take a look at some of them, starting off with Norway’s female poker player Annette Obrestad.
Annette Obrestad is the youngest player to ever win a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet. She won the inaugural WSOP Europe Main Event at London’s Empire Casino on September 17, 2007, just a day before her 19th birthday.
That impressive victory earned her $2,013,733 in prize money, and set a new record for the biggest single-event payout to a female player, previously held by Annie Duke. Obrestad, now 32 years old, has amassed nearly $4 million in total live earnings throughout her career, plus $2.7 million in online winnings.
Duke was among the most successful female players of the poker boom era. Among her most notable wins came in 2004 when she took down a $3,000 Omaha High-Low 8/OB event during the WSOP, claiming her one and only gold bracelet. On the same year, she went on to win the first-ever WSOP Tournament of Champions for a massive top prize of $2 million, that time the biggest prize awarded to a female player in a single tournament.
Third on the list is Vanessa Selbst, a three-time WSOP bracelet winner, and the highest-earning female poker player in history. Her tournament record dates back to 2006, and her first cash was worth $101,285, a 7th-place finish in a $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em event during that year’s WSOP.
Throughout her career, Selbst amassed almost $12 million in live earnings. Her biggest score came in 2010 when she won the Partouche Poker Tour Main Event held in Cannes for a massive $1,823,430 in first-place prize.
Kathy Lehne, a wealthy businesswoman from Houston, Texas, is the only non-pro on the list. She established Sun Coast Resources, a wholesale fuel company, at the age of 23. She is one of America’s most successful self-made women.
She plays poker for recreation, competing in super high roller games. Her Hendon Mob profile shows less than a dozen cashes, including three six-figure payouts. Her latest score was a third-place finish in the 2019 Super High Roller Bowl worth $1,785,000.
Liv Boeree made her first foray into poker when she joined the reality TV show Ultimatepoker.com Showdown as one of the contestants, where she got the chance to receive direct coaching from top poker pros Phil Hellmuth, Dave Devilfish Ulliott, and Annie Duke.
Boeree’s total live earnings sit at nearly $4 million. Her biggest cash live cash came in 2010 when she won the European Poker Tour San Remo Main Event for $1,698,300 in top prize. While the 36-year-old has already retired from playing poker professionally, many still look up to her as one of the best female poker players in the world.