Battle of the Sexes

It’s sexpot against sex pest and husband
versus wife, as the
gauntlet is thrown down

The Tournament

All this talk of single gender tournaments and women being the weaker sex has gotten too much for us. We prefer our poker unisex, but we’re also interested in asking the question: Just who is better at poker – men or women? You can talk about it until you keel over but there’s only one way to find out. So, in a scientific experiment, I gathered together four specimens of poker-playing woman and challenged editor Dave Woods to find three male counterparts for the ultimate sit-and-go. I installed them in Soho’s swanky Century club, got Stan James to provide the dealers and chips (courtesy of Dial-A-Dealer) and let them loose. These are the results…

As befitting such a monumental duel, we congregate at high noon, all guns blazing. The boys huddle together for a team talk under the tutelage of top celebrity player, Norman Pace. The ladies swap insider knowledge on our male counterparts and finely hone our secret weapon. Yes, child peddling and slavery may be illegal these days, but pimping your Page 3 model mate isn’t. With so much testosterone pumping around the baize, Leilani gives us her blessing to use her arse in the name of poker.

We start off with 5000 chips, the blinds set at a leisurely 25-50. Elaine and myself raise the first few hands, and are rewarded with an early lead. But not for long. A board comes down showing 5-6-J. Elaine bets 475, which is raised to 1600 by Norman. She agonises over calling, and folds, showing a Jack in deference to Norm’s play. He claims he was all bluff.

Hair today…

Leilani’s been quiet and decides it’s time to make a move. We’ve agreed if there’s any of us that could make a bluff stand, it’s her. She bets 300 pre- and post-flop, 300 on the turn, and 600 on the river. Rick keeps calling. Come the turn, she should have been wondering why. As Grub notes: ‘You’re fiddling with your hair again, Leilani. You’re worried, aren’t you?’ The plan backfires, and Rick’s two-pair takes the pot.

Grub, as usual, bemoans the lack of quality conversation. It’s obviously never occurred to him that we’re here to play poker rather than use it as a forum to regale folk with the finest anecdotes known to mankind. He wants conversation? Fine. I recount, with his blessing, the call I received from him last week: ‘Shelley, it’s been so long since I’ve had sex, I’ve become worryingly aroused by the sight of these two scantily-clad mannequins in Primark’s window. Is it wrong to have a wank in public?’ Me: ‘Yes, Grub, it probably is.’ Mouths agog, the others at the table don’t know whether to feel pity or disgust for him. I enquire: ‘Have you been working on ways of dealing with your sexual frustration?’ He answers: ‘Yes, I’ve been having sex with a Latvian whore.’ Good, glad I asked. Thanks for upping the conversational stakes, giving us all something to aspire to.

Pace vs Pace

The mood has become less convivial and more competitive. Not for the first time, Pace takes on Pace. Norman makes a suspiciously cheap bet, which Bev calls. Next card, he makes it a whole lot more. There’s nothing Bev hates more than folding to her husband, but she knows she has to.

We’re getting the gist of the boys’ game: raise on the button if we limp in, and then watch us crumble. They do this skillfully, but I’ve had enough. Dave checkraises pre-flop, which I call. The flop comes 8 -J -Q . We both check. The turn brings 10. I bet large and Woods splinters.

Then Grub takes a battering. First, he folds to Rick’s unsporting over-bet. Then his A-K gets him in trouble on a K-Q-J flop. He bets out with top pair/top kicker, but Norm pushes all-in with the menacing bouncer stare that served his comedy career so well. Hard though it is, Grub folds, and is gratified when Norm shows pocket Queens.

The blinds are now 200-400. Pace, Mr, makes it 1000 to go. Pace, Mrs, calls. What follows then is a largely unprintable exchange that we all would have preferred had never left the sanctity of their married home. It culminates with Bev singing a Millwall FC chant, with the catchy last line: ‘F off, bollocks, you’re a c ’.

Next, apart from Elaine and myself, everyone folds to Dave’s big blind. Big mistake. Dave makes a set of Fives on the flop, which I bet into massively when I hit a pair of Aces on the turn.

Dave’s developed a cocky attitude to sit alongside his chip lead. The women need to fight back. Leilani promptly does so when she pushes all-in for her last 1300. Dave calls with A-8, which trails to Leilani’s 9-9. And when she hits another Nine on the turn the sexy little lady doubles through.


I’m seriously short-stacked and need to double up or bust out. Leilani raises by a couple of thousand pre-flop. I decide to go all-in saying to Leilani, ‘You know what that means.’ She quickly folds, even though it would only cost another 300 chips to call. She shows a pair of Jacks. I show Twos. Leilani sweetly claims to have been concerned that I might have had a higher pair, even though her reasons were more likely based on keeping me in the game. Grub is outraged. I try and reason with Herr Smith, saying that it’s a team game, and the golden rule is to avoid busting out your teammates. Nonetheless, the boys (who admittedly have been playing fair and playing pots with each other) are disgusted and accuse me of taking advantage of Leilani’s sweet nature.

I take my captaining duties very seriously and intervene when I spot Elaine in a tight situation. She’s all-in for 2700, and Dave’s seriously thinking about calling. Despite our earlier plan, I’ve decided it would be a huge setback for feminism if we demean Leilani by using her as the team ho’, but no harm done using a copy of her calendar. By the time I’ve flipped to August, Dave’s withered.

Grub’s still spitting when I make a hefty pre-flop raise under the gun. Everyone folds around to a re-raising Bev. I’m about to go all-in, until Bev says: ‘Don’t do it girl.’ A pair of Eights is the best hand I’ve had for ages, but I know I’m behind. Bev flips over Bullets. Nice ‘teamwork’. The men have another word for it.

The Rage

All the collusion has antagonised the Victor Meldrew of poker, Grub, and he’s exasperated further when he walks into the greedy lair of his supposed ally, Rick. Forced to call Rick’s raise, whose pocket Sevens hold up, Grub’s first out. Even though he’s no longer in the game, he carries on griping and groping (lucky Elaine) like he is.

Dacey’s gone power crazy. Hell-bent on domination, he knocks Leilani out. Once again, his lucky Sevens hold up against her Q-4. Dave momentarily becomes chip leader after his flush beats Elaine’s A-Q. But Rick’s not happy that someone else has won a pot, and irrationally raises team lynchpin Norman on the button. Oh dear, he’s managed to further alienate his team, and Norman goes for a walk. Fair enough, Rick has a decent hand with A-Q against Norm’s K-J but it’s Norm who has the last laugh on his return, as he makes a full house to stay in.

I eventually head off into the sunset, when my pocket Fours are called by Rick and Dave. Holding pocket Kings, checking it down pains Rick immeasurably.

With half the team out, Bev and Elaine do their best for womankind and fight a valiant battle. Elaine hits trips in a big hand with Norman and Rick, but once again, for some inexplicable reason, the gods of poker shine down on the whippersnapper, making him a flush on the turn.

Short stack takes on short stack as Elaine’s Q-6 is up against Norm’s A-K. He hits a Broadway straight. Norman hugs Elaine. Elaine makes a wanker sign.

Moments later Bev is all-in with A-J, which looks in geat shape against Rick’s K-J. But wouldn’t you know it, he hits a King on the river, and with that, the last of the ladies has fallen, and the men are victorious. Short-stacked Norm falls shortly after and Rick and Dave play out the last few anticlimactic hands with Dacey eventually prospering. He’s taken out virtually everyone on the table and got to lead out Leilani on a leash – surely every man’s dream come true.


Shelley: Like all good stories, there needs to be a denouement. One by one, our lightweight teammates melt off into the night until it’s just the two skippers left holding the cocktails. Woods can’t resist a heads-up challenge, and readily agrees to a rematch – playing for cash, the true battle of the sexes title, and the all-important cup. To say it was as easy as taking candy from a baby would be an insult to all those chubby bairns with vice-like grips, but he never stood a chance. The boys may have won the battle, but the women won the war.

Dave: Have you seen that episode of The Office where David Brent and Finchy lose the office pub quiz, but can’t handle defeat and challenge the winning team to ‘the real pub quiz’, which involves throwing a shoe over the pub? They do it and declare themselves the winners. S-A-D. Speaking for all my colleagues I’d just like to say very well played to the ladies. (And very, very, very well played to the gents.) It was an honour playing at the same table as you, and long may it continue. Who needs womenonly events? Now let’s get the rematch on…

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