Lisa Costello Riding High After WPT Ladies Championship Victory

After a memorable showdown against Poker Hall of Fame nominee Kathy Liebert on Day 2, Lisa Costello defeated Ashley Sleeth heads-up to win the 2023 WPT Ladies Championship and $85,297.

Tim Fiorvanti
Dec 8, 2023
Lisa Costello won the 2023 WPT Ladies Championship, taking home $85,297.

For Lisa Costello, something flipped around the time of the dinner break on Day 2 of the 2023 World Poker Tour Ladies Championship at Wynn Las Vegas. She had just lost a big coinflip to Ashley Sleeth and went off to dinner with just five big blinds in her stack.

But everything turned on its head once play resumed. A triple-up triggered a rush, and then Costello found herself head-to-head in a key pot against the most accomplished player in the field, Kathy Liebert. They got all in, and Liebert was at risk with pocket queens to Costello’s ace-king. A standard showdown had an electric runout that brought out a response from everyone in the field; a jack-high flop, followed by a queen to give Liebert a set. And then a ten on the river to flip it to Costello, with a straight.

As everyone else including Liebert let out audible gasps, the woman who would ultimately become the 2023 WPT Ladies Champion sat there quietly while a grin slowly grew on her face.

“To be honest, I kind of knew it was coming,” said Costello. “As crazy as that sounds, I was just on such a hot run I just knew it was coming. I don’t think the reporters caught this. But when I had first made my raise, I actually looked at her while she was in the tank. And I said, ‘Kathy, I am so hot right now. So whatever you’re about to do, don’t do it.’ And then that hand happened, and it’s pretty incredible.”

Costello eliminated Kathy Liebert in one of the most memorable hands of the 2023 WPT Ladies Championship.

Costello ultimately took that win and ran with it – first to a top-3 stack by the end of Day 2, and then by beating out seven other players at Friday’s final table to capture the title and $85,297 – her biggest win and live cash in her poker career.

The Philadelphia-born, longtime Las Vegas resident ultimately defeated Sleeth heads-up to lock in her victory. She navigated a final table against several players with multiple major Ladies Championships and other accolades to their credit along the way. And at no point during Friday’s final table did the moment feel like it got too big for Costello.

“I pretty much played with everyone in this tournament,” said Costello. “And there’s a few people that I’ve been playing with for years, honestly. I felt pretty comfortable, I felt like everybody played pretty well, and I just tried to keep my cool and wait for all my spots.”

Costello’s victory was just her second tournament cash of the year, following a 111th-place finish in the WSOP Ladies Championship this summer. While she was a full-time tournament pro for a significant stretch of the mid-2010s, Costello has curtailed her poker volume considerably of late.

“I actually used to play poker for years,” said Costello. “I played full-time for two years, five or six years ago. But the last few years, I just haven’t played much at all. I haven’t had it in me to grind it out like I used to. But it’s great, because now I get to pick and choose all the tournaments that I want to play, just like this one. And it’s a lot of fun.”

After walking away with the trophy in one of the signature events of the WPT World Championship festival, it’s only too natural to ask, ‘What’s next?’ Will there be an attempt to capture lightning in a bottle, and try to spin up her momentum into a run in the WPT Prime Championship, or the WPT World Championship?

Costello kept her options open, at least in the immediate aftermath of her win. But as far as a ride off into the sunset goes, Costello isn’t calling it a poker career just yet.

“I just said to Ashley, ‘I’m probably going to retire.’ Isn’t that what everybody says at this point? No, I still love poker, and I’ll always play here and there. This was just pretty incredible today.”