Poker has been a popular game in the U.S. for decades. Casinos and other organized betting venues that offer poker games—including tournaments—are sprinkled all over the U.S. Recently, poker has been growing across Europe with cities like Dublin and London leading the poker craze. This increase in poker playing has led many women to begin hitting the tables and online poker sites. In an interview with Bluff Europe, Hippodrome Casino Head of Poker Kerryjane Craigie mentions the rise in the number of female poker players. With women like Vanessa Selbst, Liv Boeree, Kara Scott, Ana Marquez, and Ebony Kenney hitting the tables, ladies are proving to be just as good as their male counterparts—if not better.
During the 1950s, Las Vegas, Nevada witnessed a boom in gambling as hundreds of casinos masked as resorts begin to emerge along the Strip. By the 1960s, many of these casino resorts expanded and became grander as major corporations began to invest in the industry. Today there are nearly 900 casinos in the U.S. with the top three American casino markets located along the Las Vegas Strip as well as in Atlantic City, New Jersey and the Chicago metro region. Besides Macau and the U.S., the U.K. enjoys some of the most lucrative casinos in the world with many cities and towns hosting small casinos. Although women traditionally stayed in the background when casinos initially came about, the role of women in gambling has shifted within the past few decades. No longer are women seen as just lucky charms and eye candy at poker tables as more are becoming players, dealers, and executives at casinos.
As casinos grow in numbers, card tables are seeing more and more women playing hard and winning big. Vanessa Selbst, for instance, is by far the most successful female professional poker player with her winnings totaling over $9 million. Selbst has made six final tables and two heads-up semi-finals at the World Series of Poker and, according to the World Series of Poker, Selbst had won over $3.5 million in live tournaments alone by the time she was 27. In addition to scoring big at the tables, women are also benefiting from sponsorships and appearances. Major female players like Kara Scott are building a strong following as they move up in the poker player ranks and gain fame on the live poker circuit. Unlike some other poker ladies, however, Scott got her start behind the scenes as the host of Poker Night Live, a popular poker show. Excited by the action at the tables, Scott moved from simple presenter to player and won over $400,000 after finishing second in the Irish Open, according to her profile on PartyPoker. She’s gone on to win back-to-back cash prizes in the World Series of Poker Main Event while still hanging on to her poker event and television hosting duties.
Although more women are hitting casinos and other gambling establishments to get their poker fix, there is still a lack of women at live poker events. However, more than one-third of online poker players are female, according to BoxingScene. This could be because of the convenience and intimacy of online betting and, unlike at live poker events, the anonymity that comes with playing on a computer. With online poker playing, women can hone their skills and become better players without feeling intimidated by all the men in the room or feeling that their gender is an issue. Also, women tend to prefer the lower stakes that online sites offer.
Poker may still be considered a game dominated by men, but women are gaining in the ranks of top poker players. From big-time poker competitors to favored poker entertainment presenters, females are becoming heavy hitters in all aspects of the industry. And whether they prefer to hit the interactive tables online or at a live poker event, women will remain fixtures on the poker scene.