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Local poker players ante up with the big gals

POSTED June 9, 2009 9:42 p.m.
As 1,060 of the best female poker players in the world gathered at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday to kick off the Ladies World Championship — event 17 of the World Series of Poker — six patrons of the Turlock Poker Room were counted among their ranks.
And as the dust settled on the talented field of players Tuesday, one of Turlock’s own, Angel Pedroza, was left standing among the top female No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em players in the world, claiming fourth place overall and taking home $53,940 in prize money.
“To have one of our customers make a final table, especially in the World Series of Poker, that’s what we’re all shooting for,” said Joe Fernandez, Turlock Poker Room co-owner. “We’re elated for her.”
Pedroza, a bartender in Turlock, had entered the final table in third place with just over 500,000 in chips. At one point, with six players left, Pedroza held the lead with more than 1 million in chips.
Pedroza went on to lose her lead in a hand against eventual winner Lisa Hamilton of Hawaii, whose three kings bested Pedroza’s two aces. Hamilton damaged Pedroza’s stack further on a big hand where Hamilton drew a 9-K straight.
Mari Lou Morelli of Long Beach, the third place finisher, eliminated Pedroza with three aces. Pedroza had two threes at the time, and was on an inside straight draw.
One other Turlock Poker Room player finished in the money at the $1,000 buy-in tournament. Jenny Vinlove of Ceres took 25th overall, and claimed $5,500 for her efforts.
This was the second straight year that a Turlock Poker Room player has made the final table of the Ladies World Championship. Yesenia Garcia of Modesto took eighth in the event last year, claiming $28,155.
Fernandez said that no other poker club in the world could claim the honor of having two members make the final table of the Ladies World Championship.
“We’ve really got some really good women that play poker here,” Fernandez said. “We do satellite tournaments for the Ladies World Series of Poker; we’ve had as many as 72 women in one tournament before.”
While players at the Turlock Poker Room were excited to hear of Pedroza’s success, when news came around that she had been eliminated in fourth position — just missing out on the $195,390 that the winner took home — her near victory seemed just a touch bittersweet.
“It’s a joyful thing, but boy were we hoping for a big win,” Fernandez said. “But $54,000 is a big chunk of change for a little girl.”
Check the Turlock Journal’s Saturday edition for further coverage of this Turlocker’s historic run at the World Series of Poker.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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