One events that has grown in numbers as well as prestige at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) over the past few years has been the Ladies’ No Limit Hold’em Championship. Since 2005, when Jennifer Tilly captured the title against 600 other players, the tournament has doubled in size and routinely drawn well over 1,000 players for each event in succeeding years (reaching an apex of 1,286 in 2007). The tournament, while a competition, has also allowed an elite organization to make its mark through charitable means.
The Queens of Heart organization has been a part of the event since 2006, drawing attention to women’s health issues and raising over $100,000 for charities such as the Nevada Cancer Institute and the American Heart Association through the team’s winnings. This year, one player will have a chance to stand beside the ladies as a member of the Queens of Heart by proving she is the best player over a four week series.
Starting on January 24th, there will be a series of four tournaments (the three other dates for tournaments are February 28th, March 28th, and April 25th) called the Queens of Heart League, held at Harrah’s in Las Vegas at noon. The $80+$20 buy-in events will be for women only and, at the end of the four tournaments, the overall winner will earn a prestigious seat alongside the other ladies making up the Queens of Heart at this year’s Ladies tournament at the WSOP. In addition to the seat at the Ladies’ WSOP event, the league champion will also join her teammates in a luncheon with WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack on the Saturday before the event.
While the team has yet to be announced for 2009, the roster of players who have played for the Queens of Heart in the past reads like a who’s who of the celebrity and poker worlds. Celebrity stars such as actresses Mimi Rogers, Joely Fisher, Teri Hatcher, Cheryl Hines, Camryn Manheim, and author Jackie Collins have been members. Professional poker players such as 2006 WSOP Ladies Event runner-up Shawnee Barton, 2007 WSOP Ladies Event champion Sally Anne Boyer, two-time Ladies Event winner Barbara Enright, Maureen Feduniak, Clonie Gowen, Poker News Daily Columnist Linda Johnson, 2006 WSOP Ladies champion Mary Jones, and 2007 Legends of Poker Ladies champion Pamela Brunson have also lent their efforts as members of the team.
In the past, the Queens of Heart league event had been run by one of the co-founders of the organization, Lisa Tenner, and her group Tenner and Associates. This year, however, the WSOP is assuming operation of the league, which Tenner views favorably. “I am honored about the incredible success, charity, and awareness for good health that Tenner and Associates brought to the World Series of Poker on behalf of ‘Queens of Heart’ and the move to having the league led by the WSOP is a win-win for all concerned,” stated Tenner in a press release. “I am also proud that the ‘Queens of Heart’ is a part of the history, tradition, and the future of the WSOP.”
The Queens of Heart organization has shown that while poker is a competitive activity, it is focused on charity as well.