Women and Poker

You got to know when to hold ‘em…..know when to fold ‘em….know when to walk away…and when to click out and shut down your computer.

Seems America has gone crazy over….POKER.   You’ve seen the World Poker Tour Championship on ESPN. Now you can catch some kind of poker tournament on TV almost every night.   Cowboy hats and baseball caps pulled low over the brow, dark glasses, brooding faces showing no emotion whatsoever….UNTIL HE GOES ALL IN – HE JUMPS UP FROM THE TABLE – HE’S PACING – HERE COMES THE FLOP, THE TURN, THE RIVER – OHHH! HE’S FINISHED wiped out by – a woman?

It’s true.  Women still make up a minority of poker players, but they’re entering the game in record numbers.   Top female players like Jennifer Tilly, Cloney Gowen, and Annie Duke are blazing a brave new trail through all that cigar smoke and testosterone. 

So I checked in with poker expert Eric Morris, Co-Publisher of Bluff Magazine.  Eric told me that women are newer to the game and there’s a perception that they’re not strong players. For the record, Eric disagrees with this. 

I asked him what the draw was for women. His answer “They have an equal opportunity to win. Being a big burly guy doesn’t give you any advantage here. It’s a level playing field.”    

Interestingly enough – more women seem to prefer to play poker online. Why? I asked.  Eric’s take was that it was a less intimidating environment than a casino. They could make mistakes and learn without looking stupid in front of other live players.

Hmmm…I’m seeing some parallels here to our Best Buy persona.  She was intimidated by electronic stores and looking stupid in front of the techno-babbling sales guy, so she went online first to research and gain enough information to be confident before walking into the store.

So – what characteristics does a good poker player have? Eric named a few:

        understanding of math/percentages


        strong gut/instinct/intuition – know when someone’s bluffing

        ability to bluff

Seems women have a natural advantage in a few of these areas – we know from brain studies there is physical proof of women’s “intuition.”    Math traditionally goes to the guys – so we’ll give them a slight edge there. But ability to bluff is especially interesting.  Men aren’t used to playing with women and often underestimate them. Women can use this to their advantage.    Plus there’s the age old feminine wiles – dazzle him with your smile and distract him while you’re stealing all his chips.

This gets really interesting online – seems some women pose as men, and some men pose as women.   Reminds me of my ex brother in law – my sister discovered he was sneaking into the lesbian chat rooms pretending to be a 23 year old named “Cynthia.”

So – think women aren’t interested in thrill seeking?   Think they’re too timid to take risks?  Annie Duke might have something to say about that.  So would the men she’s beaten the pants off.

Interested in online poker?  Check out the Bluff Poker Tour.  


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21 Responses to Women and Poker

  1. Chuck McKay says:

    Anyone else remember when poker wasn’t considered a sport? Today, it’s televised in prime time. I did attend college on a poker scholarship, but I don’t remember a team. Or cheerleaders. Or fans, for that matter.

  2. Mary Schmidt says:

    Personally, I just LOVE that sexpot Jennifer Tilly, with her breathy little-girl voice (at least on screen) is a killer poker player. You go girl. Take that, stereotypes! And, interesting to note that poker, unlike many male-dominated sports, doesn’t require upper body strength…hmmmm….

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