I decided this week to write a column that is not necessarily funny, but which poses a real question.
This is news that inevitably caught the attention of many: for the first time in history, three women reached the final table of a WPT tournament. It happened recently at the Venetian, for a WPT with a buy-in of $ 5,000 for be precise. At this final table, which was played 6-handed, we were therefore entitled to full parity of players. What matters is obviously not the end result. It’s anecdotal that it was Chad Eveslage who won the tournament and that the three women, Kyna England, Daniela Rodriguez and Kitty Kuo finished in 3rd, 5th and 6th places respectively. A female victory would of course have been the icing on the sundae, as they say here at my home in Quebec, but hey.
No, what struck me was simply the presence of three girls at this stage of the tournament. When I was on the circuit, being a woman who goes far in a competition (“last woman standing”) was already the subject of a news. So three women in a final table… imagine!
The place of women in the world of poker reminds me of their place in the world of cryptocurrencies. We are talking about a very, very low percentage. To be fair, the most current figure we have is: Women make up for only 5% of all WSOP events. The probability that three women arrive in a final table 6-handed is therefore infinitesimal.
It’s always hard to find one or more reasons for this female desert in poker tournaments. Is it because it’s an ultra-macho universe in which it is unbearable to live if you’re a girl? I do not believe so. Having practiced it for several years, I can testify that there are certainly machos, heavyweights, “alpha males” with big arms and bad-tempered faces, but it’s in the same percentage as can be found elsewhere in the society.
The real enigmatic question remains: why aren’t more women playing? For once a discipline is not gendered and women and men can compete in the same competition without physical strength being taken into account. Why is there such a lack of interest in this game on the part of girls when since the coronation of Chris MoneyMaker in 2003, there has been a real democratization of this discipline? I do not have the answer. Perhaps we should look to the girls’ self-censorship and their biased perception of the game and its “very guy” vibe.
We often underestimate the strength of received ideas and how crippling they can be. Poker is a dude’s game in the collective subconscious, a cowboy game played in a saloon, sipping whiskey and smoking a big cigar. This outdated and laughable image may ultimately be stronger than you think. Otherwise what? What justifies the low percentage of girls on the circuit?
Despite the presence on the circuit of strong female figures like Vanessa Selbst, Jennifer Harman, Vanessa Rousso, Liv Boeree, Annette Obrestad or even myself, the lines do not seem to have moved and the status quo remains.
Anyway, I’m curious what would happen if a woman ever won the WSOP Main Event next fall. Would the victory of a female “Chris Moneymaker” against a field of 8,000 players as in 2019 be a game-changer? Would this have an impact on the image of poker? Would that make the girls more comfortable and encourage them to play more and to permanently change the male / female ratio? I do not have the answer. Do you?
Meet me at the tables on CoinPoker to practice your skills and enjoy the action. Open yourself a CoinPoker account today.
Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier
WPT Winner & OFC “Progressive” World Champion