In a non-covid year, the World Series of Poker brings players from all over the world to Las Vegas to compete in hundreds of tournaments. There’s all sorts of events of varying game types, stakes, and structures. Four of the tournaments, however, are only available to certain players: the casino employees’ event, the seniors, the super seniors, and the ladies event. It’s immediately evident why the first three events exist (employees don’t want to bite the hand that tips them and 75+-year-olds are not as sharp as 30-year-olds.) But why is there a tournament reserved only for female-identifying players?
Poker is not a physical sport and women are just as adept at decision-making as men. So on first glance it’s almost insulting that this event exists at all. But there are actually three great benefits that the Ladies Event provides women in poker! They are:
Opportunity for recognition in an underrepresented group:
Women make up just 6% of all live tournament players (per Newsweek and Global Poker Index.) This means that we’ll see an average of one woman per two televised tables, and we’re far less likely to hear about a woman winning a tournament than a man. With this underrepresentation comes a self-perpetuating cycle where girls don’t have many role models in poker and thus don’t get in the game to close this disparity.
Much like other forms of affirmative action, the goal of the Ladies Event is to give excellent female players a platform to showcase their skills. Every year a woman adds an impressive six-figure score to her Hendon Mob, bolsters her case for Player of the Year, and wins a coveted World Series Bracelet. The tournament was a boon to the celebrity status of past winners Jennifer Tilly and Kristen Bicknell; who knows how many young women they have inspired to take a seat at a poker table.
A place to play for women who dislike co-ed poker culture
Think back to your college frisbee team. Some girls preferred the co-ed team and some preferred the women’s team. Even though both groups played the exact same game, the social experience of the two teams was different. The same is true in poker. Some women are exhausted by the way certain men treat them at the table and just want a place to play in peace.
With women currently representing such a small fraction of all live poker players, the chances that an all-female table populates naturally is slim-to-none. For the women who play in private, all-female poker games year-round, the Ladies Event gives them a chance to soak up the magic of the World Series of Poker while keeping their preferred all-women table dynamic.
A chance for women in poker to meet one another
Finally, the Ladies Event lets you connect with many of the other women in poker to network, share experiences, and make meaningful friendships. For the regular at a small card room in Florida, making a pilgrimage to the Ladies Event may be the only time of the year she can connect with like-minded women in poker. It’s human nature to bond with people who share your passions and perspectives; female poker players can be hard to come by so it’s to everyone’s benefit that there is an annual reunion to keep the community connected.
If you’re interested in meeting other women in poker, consider signing up for one of PokerPower’s study groups here https://pokerpower.com/free-sign-up. We offer free lessons and community games every week for female-identifying poker players and we hope to get to know you soon!
Written By: Sam Anschell
Poker Power is for educational purposes and does not permit gambling in our clubs. No poker experience is required.