Haixia Zhang wins ladies’ hold’em championship

Haixia Zhang of Los Gatos, Calif., won the Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Championship at the World Series of Poker on Sunday at the Rio Convention Center.

Zhang, who was nearly knocked out of the tournament on Day 2, took home $153,470 and her first career gold bracelet. Zhang is a recreational player and the mother of two sons, and her only other WSOP cashes came in circuit events at Harveys Lake Tahoe.

“I’m in complete awe, and it’s unreal,” Zhang said. “It’s surreal. … I have to say, luck was on my side.”

Mikiyo Aoki, an architect from Bozeman, Mont., entered the final table with a sizable chip lead and finished second. She earned $94,800 in her first career cash at a WSOP event.

Meikat Siu of New York was third.

The three-day event has a buy-in of $10,000, though women receive a 90 percent discount. Nearly 800 players entered for a prize pool of $713,700.