Real Women of Poker: Marsha Waggoner
When it comes to "old school" poker icons, there are few women that have been around the game of poker for as long as Marsha Waggoner has.
Sometimes overlooked in the pantheon of great female poker players, as she doesn't have as many high-profile finishes as some from the pre-poker boom era, Waggoner has proven for over three decades that she is among the most talented ladies to ever play the game.
From Australia to Reno to Vegas to SoCal
Waggoner was born in 1948 in Queensland, Australia, and played cards as a child but didn't start becoming proficient in poker until her late 20s.
In 1976, she took a job as a blackjack dealer at a casino in Sydney and while working there discovered that she had a talent for poker.
The next year she moved to Reno, Nevada, initially intending to play blackjack for a living.
Her dreams of making a living off blackjack ended quickly when casino representatives banned her from playing blackjack games.
She was then forced to make the switch to poker and began to play cash games almost exclusively to provide a living for her three kids.
The mid-80s rolled around and Waggoner moved her family again, this time to Las Vegas.
She began to become proficient in both Texas Hold'em and Stud tournaments and was regularly making the money in events around Vegas.
Her stint in Vegas though, while successful, only lasted until 1987.
She then moved to Southern California, where she still resides, and began to prove she could hang with the biggest names in poker.
WSOP Success Curtailed by Aneurysm
As her skill in the game increased, so did her success on the circuit.
Waggoner finished runner-up in the $1,500 Stud 8 or Better Event at the 1992 WSOP, good for $52,500.
In 1995, she finished third in the $2,500 Omaha 8 or Better Event. She repeated the feat in 1999.
Waggoner continued to rack up final-table appearances all over the US but a brain aneurysm began to cause her numerous health issues in 2001.
It wasn't until 2002 that the issue was discovered and she was forced to have brain surgery in 2003 to correct the problem.
Waggoner quickly recovered and has never looked back.
Back in Action and Better Than Ever
Waggoner's largest recorded tournament score came in 2005 when she came in second behind Tom McEvoy at the Bay 101 Professional Poker Tour Event.
She took down $100,000 for the runner-up finish.
Waggoner has eight final tables at the World Series of Poker and has made the final three tables of the Main Event twice.
She finished 19th in the 1993 Main Event and then finished 12th in 1997, the year of Stu Ungar's last Main Event win.
For her recorded tournament career, Marsha has won over $857,816.
But that number is likely a lot higher as she played for a decade before her first "recorded" tournament cash and many cashes before 2004 were not recorded properly.
Hall of Famer Still Taking it To the World's Best
For her lifetime of accomplishments in the game of poker, Waggoner was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame in 2008 as part of its inaugural class with Barbara Enright and Linda Johnson.
She was also unanimously voted into the Australian Poker Hall of Fame in 2010.
Showing she still has the game left to compete with the best in the world, Waggoner finished fifth in the International Federation of Poker World Championship in November 2011.
And while she may not have the major titles of the more prominently known women from before the poker boom, she's proven for over 30 years that she is a force to be feared in the poker world.
She'll continue to be so for many years to come.
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