Volume 30 • Number 14 • May 10, 1999
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1999 Champion


Event #15 Results
Woman's 7-Stud (Limit)
$1,000 Buy-in

1. Christina Pie$34,000
Sydney, Australia
2. LaVonne Joyce19,550
Mosaga CA
3. Jenny Kaye10,200
Los Angeles CA
4. Marie St Michael5,950
Phoenix AZ
5. Sue Byrd5,100
Reno NV
6. Cyndy Violette4,250
Absecon NJ
7. Caroline Gardner3,400
Las Vegas NV
8. Starla Brodie2,550
Scottsdale AZ

Total Prize Pool: $85,000
Number of Entrants: 85

Entries to Date: 2,820
Prize Money to Date: $6,996,500

The Final Hand


T here were two former champions and a host of other superstars at the final table of the World Series of Poker's event number 14, the Women's Seven-Card Stud Championship. But when the last card had been dealt, the person with the cash, the championship gold bracelet and the spray of roses was a 30-year-old woman from Sydney, Australia with exactly one year of experience playing poker.

"I learned from watching my husband play at the Bellagio," said Christina Pie. He is the best. People ask me if I get bored watching him for so long, but I don't." She and her husband make a formidable team, having won the mixed-doubles event at the Bicycle Club's Legends of Poker last year. Both are originally from China. The two once owned a restaurant in Sydney but sold it and now come to the U.S. three or four times a year to play poker.

By tradition, the ladies event is always held on Mother's Day, and by traditon the women carefully dress in some of their nicest finery. There were no jeans or sweatshirts visible that day. Some 85 women entered, and first place was worth $34,000.

Play had barely gotten underway when Starla Brodie was eliminated by LaVonne Joyce, who finished second in the event. Joyce showed three open queens and won the hand going away. Brodie, a professional who has been playing cards for 25 years, won the women's championship in 1995. She also won the WSOP mixed doubles event in 1979. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, and her favorite games are stud and Monopoly.

The second champion did not last much longer. Carolyn Gardner went up against Jenny Kaye, made nines and sevens, but lost to Kaye's tens and fives. Gardner, a poker dealer, lives in Las Vegas and has been playing poker for more than 30 years. She won her WSOP championship bracelet in 1983.

Pie came to the table with the most chips, $22,900, and she immediately asserted herself with frequent raises. At one point, Marie St. Michel said to her, "You always raise. I should have re-raised you that last hand," she added regretfully.

"Play like a boy instead of a girl," Pie admonished her. "Likewise, toots," St. Michael responded. Yes, sir, the ladies event was underway.

Cyndy Violette was the third lady to be excused when she put in her last chips and could only manage to make a pair of tens against Kaye's queens and sevens. Violette, who lives in New Jersey, is a well-respected professional poker player. She won the seven-card stud tournament at the Trump Taj Mahal in December, and other tournament victories include stud events at Caesars Palace and the Golden Nugget.

Sue Byrd became the fourth player to be knocked out. She raised with split kings and then bet all in on the next round. Pie, with split nines, hung in and paired a six on the river to win the pot. Byrd, a Reno resident, is a 30-year poker veteran. She has won numerous tournaments at Circus Circus, Harrah's, the Orleans, Gold Coast, Peppermill, and numerous other casinos.

Halfway through the event, Joyce has pulled into the chip lead with $32,000, while Pie is second with $24,200, Kaye next with $19,000, while St. Michael trails with $8,000. But Marie, the most outgoing of all the woman at the table, is determined to enjoy herself no matter what. "Woo!" she cries at one point when she forces Pie to fold by re-raising her and showing split 10s. The party finally ends for her, though. After St. John brings a pot in for $500, Kaye raises it to $2,000, St. John re-raises to $4,000 and Kaye puts her all in for $400 more. Jenny has jacks and Marie has eights. They both make two pair, but Jenny's is higher.

Kaye then gets in trouble when she falls victim to Pie's three queens and loses $10,000, but starts building again with a series of unchallenged raises, then makes a flush against Pie and takes a $25,000 pot. But then she gets pie thrown in her face when she gets caught up in a $50,000 pot with Christina. Jenny makes aces and kings, but Christina, with jacks and nines, catches a jack on the river to fill up and knock her out. Kaye, a Los Angeles resident, lists a win in stud at the Hall of Fame, and a second in stud at the WSOP among her credentials.

Pie is now heads-up with Joyce, who is retired and has won a mixed doubles event at Circus Circus. The two finalists are roughtly even in chips. Then Pie picks up some small pots and at one point enjoys a $75,000 to $10,000 chip advantage. In the final hand, Joyce, starting with JQ/10, bets $3,000 and then goes all in after Pie, with A-10/J, raises. The best that Joyce can make is a pair of deuces, but an eight on the river gives Pie a straight, the pot, the tournament, and the title of women's champion for the next year.

The Final Table

Internet coverage of the 1999 World Series of Poker is brought to you as a service of ConJelCo with the full and active cooperation of Binion's Horseshoe. ©1999 Binion's Horseshoe • some portions © 1999 ConJelCo