July 1st saw only the second WSOP 2016 female bracelet winner as Safiya Umerova of Los Angeles outlasted the field of 1,050 players in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Shootout Event #50, winning her first Series gold and padding her poker bankroll with more than a quarter of a million.
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Young pro shows how it is done
Safiya Umerova, originally from Russia, is only 28 years old and with her latest score, her live tournament winnings have exceeded $400,000. Although this is only her second WSOP cash, she is a regular grinder in the smaller buy-in tournaments, predominantly WPT side-events, where she has had a decent success.
As a shootout tournament, the Event #50 was designed so that those looking to advance would have to beat nine other players at their respective tables. Only the winners would move to Day 2 and by the end of it all, there were 120 players remaining, all guaranteed a payday of $5,000.
Umerova was looking for a good table draw, as quite a few formidable players advanced as well, including Vanessa Selbst, Brian Hastings, and Niall Farrell.
Surviving Day 2
If she was to become the second WSOP 2016 female bracelet winner, Umerova had to play her best and also get lucky (as is usually the case with tournaments). The Day 2 draw was reasonably kind to her and she managed to outlast her table, eventually beating Leroy Le in the heads up for her place in the final 12.
To the victory
The play on the final day started with two six-handed tables which would merge into one as soon as there were two eliminations. Farrell, Selbst, and Sam Greenwood were all still in the field, chasing the bracelet and, despite all of her experience in smaller tournaments, Umerova was at a clear disadvantage in terms of experience.
This did not discourage the young pro as she secured her place among the final ten after Greenwood and Yilmaz were sent to the rail. Vanessa Selbst was eliminated in 10th, and so the official final table went underway.
One after another, the likes of Alexandar Lakhov, Daniel Tang, Daniel McAulay, and Raymond Ho were sent to the cashier desk to receive their well deserved prizes. Their departures were followed by those of Damian Salas, Yuliyan Kolev, and Michael Mixer, leaving Safiya to fight the final battle against Scotland’s Niall Farrell.
Farrell, who has more than $2.4 million in live earnings to his name, has already been in this spot once before. In 2013, he fell just short of the WSOP bracelet when he lost the heads up to Sandeep Pulusani in Event #44.
Poker gods failed Farrell once again, as, by the time the final river card was dealt, he added another runner-up Series finish to his resume, earning $163k for his efforts and having to postpone his bracelet dream for some other time.
For Umerova, who earned $264,000 for her victory, this was her WSOP debut. She moved to the United States from Russia six years ago and only started taking poker more seriously a few months back. If this initial success is any indicator, the young pro has a very promising career ahead of her.
I think women poker players are underestimated. It happens to me, all the time when I was at the table. They would underestimate my thinking and my game, overall. (Safiya Umerova for WSOP.com blog)
Kristen Bicknell: The first WSOP 2016 female bracelet winner
Only one more female player was able to seize the bracelet this summer. Kristen Bicknell became the first WSOP 2016 female bracelet winner just one day before Safiya, claiming the victory in the Bounty Event #46 featuring the buy-in of $1,500 and attracting the field of 2,158 players.
Bicknell earned just shy of $271,000 for her efforts, but this was her second career WSOP bracelet as she triumphed in the Ladies Event back in 2013. Her total live earnings have now exceeded half a million.
There are still quite a few events to go before the Main Event kicks off on July 9th so perhaps we will see one or two more ladies take the title before it is all said and done.