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Women in Poker

by Trayana Atanasova, Sponsored Posts

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Poker has historically been a male-dominated game. Dating back to the early fifteenth century the game has expanded across the globe ever since. Though women have been accepted into the game in great numbers in recent years, many women have not felt welcomed at the tables. What is promising is that several women have made it to top-flight tournaments since the 1970s, which has done much to extend the game to new female players.


Whilst women have never explicitly been excluded from playing poker, the issues of misogyny and sexism have been persistent in the past. According to this article, one of the other reasons why poker does not appeal to women is because they are generally more risk-averse than men. Some female poker players have successfully exploited the stereotypes which invariably underestimate their skill level.


From the mid-1970s, the number of women competing in the World Series of Poker, and other tournaments worldwide has increased dramatically. Today, the majority of women poker players play online poker where poor attitudes to women at the table are eliminated due to anonymity, which gives women a level playing field. Today, about 35% of online poker players are women, whilst only 5% of players in face-to-face high stakes poker tournaments are female.

The poker industry wants to attract more women to increase the player pool and make the game more appealing. In recent years, online poker sites have signed up female players as ambassadors and with a few female players creating poker content the world of women in poker is slowly expanding.


There are more resources for women poker players than in the past which has encouraged more females into the game. Publications like the Woman Poker Player Magazine and books including The Badass Girl’s Guide to Poker have led to more women playing online or in face-to-face games in casinos or leagues. Coverage of the World Series of Poker by ESPN has made the game more widely known. This has led to shifting attitudes so that women are no longer considered as accessories to be brought to the poker table, but as equals at the game.


Poker became increasingly popular after it was featured in several movies such as The Cincinnati Kid (1965), California Split (1974), and Maverick (1994). In Maverick, Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster) competes against Maverick (Mel Gibson) in a high-stakes poker tournament and Maverick realizes he has some serious rivals at the table. Yet the portrayal of poker in the movies is very much focused on men, which can also be said for the advertising of the game.


While most sports and games see men and women separated into different groups when playing, poker is one of the few in which the two genders compete without discrimination. Yet the association of poker with gambling, alcohol, and everything that goes with it, does not make poker a female-friendly environment. Some women will take advantage by taking a drunk player’s money at the table, but most will steer clear or take part in female poker tournaments which help promote the game to other women.


The high-stakes tournament circuit is a professional environment in which women in poker can concentrate on the game and record success, showing the ability to handle the pressure and the financial risks associated with the game. The mixed game offers both genders the chance to sit and compete at the same table and this has worked incredibly well.


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