Hawaiian Hold’em: Lisa Hamilton Hangs on With Big Run on Short Stack

Dec 14, 2018

By Sean Chaffin

Lisa Hamilton

Lisa Hamilton (pictured) entered Day 4 sitting 44th out of 45 players left. After the first break in the action on Friday, Hamilton was still alive with only 30 players remaining. The 47-year-old native of Honolulu was still on a short stack but thrilled with her deep run after playing only one tournament since the World Series of Poker.

“It feels good,” she says. “I’m very happy.”

Growing up in Hawaii offered a great childhood, she says, and fit the picture many might think of life in the Aloha State – trips to the beach, cool vibes, a relaxed way of life, and great weather. Fitting the stereotype, she even learned how to surf. Life on the felt may be a bit more fitting, however, than riding a wave or getting pitted in a barrel wave.

“I’m not very good,” she says of skills on a board.

Hamilton attended an all-girls private school and wasn’t fond of that, simply noting: “It sucked.”

She didn’t play sports and didn’t make particularly good grades – even getting in trouble occasionally.

While casinos and gambling aren’t legal on the islands, many Hawaiians still certainly love to gamble.

“A lot of people play poker,” Hamilton says. “There are a lot of home games. People from Hawaii love going to Vegas, it’s like the ninth island. ”

Hamilton learned to the game in some of those home games and continued to play in college. She lost a bit of interest in academics after a short trip to Las Vegas to play poker.

“I was actually a speech major,” she says. “A bunch of my friends in Hawaii were attorneys and said the easier major was speech. You don’t have to do anything so you can get into law school.”

A degree and law school soon became afterthoughts to life on the poker felt.

“It was so fun that I dropped out of school and moved here,” she says.

Now a full-time player with more than $800,000 in live tournament winnings, she won the WSOP Ladies Championship in 2009 for $195,390. In 2010, she notched the biggest cash of her career and came close to a WSOP Circuit ring when she took runner-up in the $1,675 Bally’s Main Event for $200,310.

On the WPT, Hamilton has just one cash but it was a nice one. At WPT Jacksonville in Season X, she finished third for $112,657. With her second tour cash here at Bellagio, she’s hoping to make it count.

Yesterday, Hamilton celebrated her birthday and made one wish, but wasn’t sharing with others.

“You’re not supposed to say your wishes,” she says smiling. “I don’t want to jinx it.”

It’s safe to say that a final table might be a big part of that. When not at the tables, she loves to cook, hike, and is a self-professed homebody. That includes not playing much poker recently.

“I don’t leave the house,” she says. “I don’t even play live cash games. The last time I played any type of poker was right after summer.”

Married about a year ago, poker isn’t a hobby Hamilton and her husband share. He works from home as a graphic designer for movie DVD packaging.

“He doesn’t know anything about poker,” she says. “We don’t talk about poker, we just talk about what Netflix series we’re going to watch or what hike we’re going to do next.”

As Five Diamond played into Day 4, Hamilton scored a nice double-up to hang on and move up in the chip counts. She was hoping to delay that next hike as long as possible – and hopefully make that birthday wish a dream come true.

Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.

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