It has become obvious to all of us who have been playing poker and
poker tournaments for quite a while that things are not what they used
to be. Generally speaking, most of us agree that the good that has come
from the enormous growth of poker far exceeds the not-so-good things
that have come with them poker explosion.
At the recently concluded Spring Poker Roundup at the Wildhorse Resort
and Casino, I was again pleasantly surprised at something that occurred.
The tournament was its usual resounding success, which didn’t surprise
me, but what did surprise me was the attendance for the ladies event.
It was the first ladies event of that type held at the Wildhorse. It was
held on Easter Sunday evening. Earlier in the day, there was an open
event that was seven-card stud. The stud event drew more than 200
players. I, being a host at the Wildhorse, am privy to the scheduling and
thinking behind what tournaments are scheduled, so I can say firsthand
that the ladies event was a bit of a shot in the dark.
Tournament Director Roland Waters and I discussed how many players
we might get for the tournament. At no time were we anticipating that
the number of ladies participating would be more than 100. Again, I must
point out that the tournament was held on Easter Sunday at 7 p.m. The
pleasant surprise was that there were 171 ladies who played in the
inaugural $110 buy-in ladies tournament. The tournament was won by
Lon Deveny, from Portland, Oregon. One of my fellow hosts, Marsha
Waggoner, who had just finished second in the PPT event at Bay 101,
finished seventh in the event.
It was nice to see so many ladies playing. What was more encouraging
was that most of the ladies were young. As much as I was surprised,
when I stop to think about it, I really shouldn’t have been, mainly
because I have seen a similar thing happen in my own family. I have four
daughters, and two of them, Sunny and Mytra, live in Los Angeles, where
I live. A few months ago my wife, who sometimes attends the ladies
tournaments at The Bicycle Casino, asked our two daughters if they
would like to join her at one of those tournaments. It is basically a freeroll
tournament; they charge an entrance fee of $25, provide a nice brunch,
and even pass out some gifts. Both of my daughters had almost no
knowledge of how to play no-limit hold’em, but they took my wife up on
her offer and decided to join her. On the way to the casino, my wife gave
them a quick lesson on the basics of no-limit hold’em.
The bottom line was, when it was over, they both said they had had a
ball, and couldn’t wait to do it again. Neither my wife nor the girls got into
the money, but they didn’t care. A few days later, both of the girls were
playing on the Internet. I must point out that they were playing with play
money. I guess Dad may from time to time put a hundred dollars into
their account and let them see if they enjoy it and can hold their own.
The main reason I am writing this column is to gently suggest that what
was once an almost all-male endeavor has all of a sudden become wide
open to both men and women.
Of course, the Lindas, Barbaras, Susies, and Marshas paved the way.
Then, the Annies, Kathys, and Jennifers came along, and also rose to the
highest level in poker. Now, there are so many top-notch women players,
I can’t begin to mention all of them. It is now getting to the point that
only rarely will you hear those sexist remarks about women lacking
Of course, having 171 women in an all-ladies event on Easter Sunday
evening does not translate into large numbers of ladies entering open
events. It is like most things in life, a maturation process. I think most
ladies play a few ladies events, realize they are pretty good, enjoy it, and
decide to give one of the open events a try. They may play a few open
events and decide that they’re not for them, or they may decide that they
are competitive and then go on to become a superstar.
I hope I have convinced you that I think women can compete as well as
men at the poker table. Having said that let me tell you what I also think.
Simply put, when the fray is over, women have a tremendous advantage
over men. Let me explain in a little more detail by telling you what
happened later in the final event at the Wildhorse.
During that event, I was seated next to a nice young lady who was
holding her own in the tournament. She seemed to be making all the
right decisions and appeared to be mixing her play up quite well.
Unfortunately, she ran into a couple of unlucky hands and was eliminated
just a few places out of the money. After the lady was eliminated, she
quietly got up and started walking away. I knew she was not an
experienced player and this had to be one of her first major tournaments.
I got up to tell her that she had done a great job going as far as she had.
I also wanted to tell her that she should look at the experience positively,
as she had outlasted almost 400 players.
As I approached her, I realized she was crying, almost sobbing. I gave
her a little hug and told her she had done a marvelous job. The funny
thing about it was that several players and bystanders saw the lady
crying. Other than my attempt to tell her that she should have been
proud of her showing in the event, no one paid hardly any attention to
her outpouring of emotions.
A little while later, I was eliminated two or three out of the money. As I
headed back to my room, it was then that I realized how lucky women
are, in that they are able to let their emotions go. They can even cry in
public and no one thinks anything of it. But we men are always supposed
to keep those feelings inside us.
When I finally made it back to the privacy of my room, I locked the door. I
then waited a minute or two to make sure no one was listening outside,
and then went over to the bed and buried my head in the pillow in an
attempt to cry. The only problem was, no tears came. So, when that
failed, I did the manly thing: I got up and threw an ashtray across the
room as hard as I could and shouted out a few obscenities.
For what it's worth …
Move Over, Guys
By Vince Burgio