Women in Poker: a Love/Hate Relationship
If you expect a chauvinistic approach in this article as its written by a man, or worse another attempt to highlight women as sex symbols at the tables, you can look somewhere else. I always find it astonishing that people ever value the skill at the poker tables by age, gender or race because those are prejudices, and that is –EV* in the long run.
Of course women are a pleasure to watch and many poker sites use them as marketing tools, because sex sells … some things never change. Men like looking at women. But at the very same time this also means it is far harder for women to earn the same respect at the table as their male opponents. The vast majority of players are still men and most women only get coverage if they reach the last few tables in a tournament, simply due to the fact that they are women.
But when did we actually stop judging players based on their skills? Is there a difference in female players because they are not testosterone-driven egomaniacs? Did you actually know that twelve women have broken the gender barrier and overcome the odds to win WSOP titles in open events? Many women had deep runs for the WSOP Main Event as well and came close on reaching the final table, yet Barbara Enright (1995) remains the only one to do so as of 2011. And then there is Annette Obrestad who championed the first WSOPE in 2007.
All these accomplishments have opened the doors for more women to enter the competition and they don’t just sit shy at the tables and never fire back. The times when men believed that women rarely ever bluffed and folded too tight are gone, and quite a few women are a force to be reckoned with. Stereotypes, prejudices and sexism will probably always play a certain role, but who says that women can’t use that to their advantage?
One of the main problems in our society is that we just see what we want to see. Many guys still act like cavemen and either want to protect the women or simply demonstrate that they are supposed to be the strong gender. It hurts their ego when they get beaten by a woman and most don’t take it very well. Mind you, cavemen also burned their fingers in the fire when they first discovered it.
If you want to consistently win at poker, you need to work on your game all the time and sit down at the table with an open mind. If you let emotions take over your control, you might not always make the most logical decision, and that is the first step to failure.
Some people claim that poker is gambling and I would not disagree, at the same time I also can’t fully agree with it either. As a card game, luck will always play a role but with the right strategy you can reduce that influence to a minimum and focus on its value as a game of skill. We are flirting with “Lady Luck”, but our gender has no influence at all on how the community cards fall once all the money is in and we are ready for a showdown.
We all share the same passion for this interesting card game and enjoy it, because it can connect old and young, different nationalities, religious and non-religious people from all over the world. I could probably continue for a while, but the gender doesn’t play a role at all, or at least it should not. If we really want to be taken serious as poker players, we should let the cards decide at the tables and leave everything else outside of the door when we enter the casino card room or our comfy chair in front of the computer.
In general, poker is a game of the mind and when we sit down at the table, our knowledge, experience and dedication will decide if we happen to win or lose. If we always remember that and try to work on our game all the time to learn as much as possible about all the various aspects, we increase our odds to be successful.
Even though there were never really any significant statistics done for the percentage of female players in the events, it is estimated that the number of female players at online poker is higher and they represent approximately 35 percent in total. I guess it is about time for the guys to realize that more and more women are playing poker and that they are not afraid to show you their skills at it either.
If you bust out of a tournament, it is quite possible that high heels kick your a$$ and send you to the rail. Okay, that would be a prejudice as well, because there are so many different types of shoes and the ladies really like them. And yes, I said ladies and not girls. Besides that, they won’t hesitate to take your chips and money with a lovely innocent smile on their face, which might ease the pain a bit.
It is by far not unusual anymore to see women at the poker tables and the results speak for themselves. If men have a problem with that, there is a nice saying that actually fits quite well “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
At poker, you always have to adjust to your table, otherwise you can become exploitable and this is surely the last thing you want. Best of luck at the tables ladies, time to kick some (male) butt!
Christian Zetzsche is a poker player, writer and marketer who beleives that poker is a game of skill. He is a regular contributor at Poker Shark Magazine. He can be found at his blog http://zedmaster84.blogspot.com/
*EV – expected value.