Vanessa Kade won the PokerStars 15th Anniversary Sunday Million, topping nearly 70,000 entries and winning over $1.5m. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Kade’s rollercoaster months end on a high
A rollercoaster year. A rollercoaster month. A rollercoaster week. At the end of a tumultuous period on and off the felt, the Canadian poker professional Vanessa Kade has just done the unthinkable.
In December, she criticized GGPoker’s signing of Instagram playboy Dan Bilzerian, drawing an on-brand vulgar response from the supposed ambassador. In February, that spat was revived when GGPoker attempted to paint over the cracks by partnering with the female-only FLIP Facebook group.
A fortnight ago, Kade had her legacy affiliate deal terminated by GGPoker on the grounds that her calling out of their ambassador’s clearly provable misogyny was beyond the pale, while presumably his verbal abuse whilst representing their site was just dandy.
Two nights later, she finished atop the standings, winning $1,514,920.
A week ago, Kade signed with Americas Cardroom, insisting that she would always be an advocate but wishing to put the ugliness of the GGPoker/Bilzerian business behind her. Then on Sunday, Kade took her seat, as did 69,873 others, in the PokerStars Sunday Million 15th Anniversary. Two nights later, she finished atop the standings, winning $1,514,920.
Kade won’t sacrifice her values
When GGPoker went out on a limb to secure the signing of Dan Bilzerian, their marketing team would have understood that they were playing with fire. When Bilzerian’s one and only poker-related interaction after his signing was a dyslexic rant at poker pro Vanessa Kade, they would have felt the burn.
When GGPoker severed Kade’s affiliate deal rather than, say, apologizing to her, they showed their true colors. Kade tweeted:
Last week, when US-facing poker site Americas Cardroom added Kade to its roster of pros, Kade went on record to say that she would always be an advocate but wished to draw a line under her spat with GGPoker and Bilzerian. It was time to let her play do the talking.
Sunday Million Anniversary Edition final table
Coming into the final day of the Sunday Million, Kade was 12th of 65 left with $10,000 banked.
She was optimistic and enjoying the experience.
When the final table began, Kade was seventh of nine remaining. She had a guaranteed $72,000 in her back pocket, but the chance of a life-changing payday was still on the horizon. $1.5m one time?
For a time, Kade was in ladder mode, ICM handcuffed, all her attention on outlasting the other short stacks. A touch of good fortune came her way when, with six players left, she shoved her short stack with J-8 offsuit and spiked an 8 against the Big Blind’s A-9.
Kade broke ranks and made her move.
The runaway chip leader, Pawel “Talibenes” Ladniak from Poland, continued to apply relentless pressure, leaning on everyone with his huge stack. In what was looking like a race to the bottom, Kade broke ranks and made her move. She picked up pocket Kings twice and played them fearlessly, trapping and then inducing the chip leader. Then came a big spot where she moved into 2nd place when her A-Q held versus A-7.
Four handed, there were talks about a deal, but they fell on the deaf ears of “PanchoVetin” from Bulgaria. As long as he was in the mix, there would be no alteration to the payout structure. No hedging. No reprieve. All the cheddar would be on the line.
Skills and sportsmanship on display
During three-handed play, Talibebes, still the chip leader, momentarily disconnected. In that spot, the person who would have benefited the most from racing through a few hands was Kade (she was in 2nd and under the most ICM pressure from a very ICM-aware opponent). Without a split second’s hesitation, Kade began using her time bank and posted in the chat “can we like pause this till dude gets back? This is not cool for him at all.” Talibenes regained his connection a few moments later, but regardless, this was a sporting gesture par excellence.
After that, the chip lead bounced around, with PanchoVetin and Kade eventually pulling clear of Talibenes. A huge flip ensued with Kade’s pocket Fives holding against PanchoVetin’s A-K and suddenly, in the blink of an eye, Kade was heads-up with a 10-1 lead. Two hands later, her pocket Eights held. It was all over and the person who had stood so tall for months was the last person standing.
It was the culmination of hard work, determination, and the indefatigable spirit of a woman who refuses to back down. The trials and tribulations of the past few months have turned into triumph and jubilation. One of the greatest poker stories unfolded before our eyes and it was a privilege just to watch. Take a bow Vanessa Kade. A poker superstar is born.