PokerPlayer tracks down the top ten women poker players on the planet then ranks and rates them
1. JENNIFER HARMAN
She might be small but she’s one hell of a battler – against a genetic kidney failure (which has needed transplants), as well as around the table. She’s been given the accolade of top woman in poker by luminaries like Daniel Negreanu and Doyle Brunson, and although her closest rival, Annie Duke, has won almost three times her tournament prize money, Jen is the only female regular playing in the Big Game at the Bellagio. She was also one of the ‘Consortium’ that played Andy Beal in a series of heads-up matches, and she received a mass of publicity when she won a pot of $1.7m. Incredibly this was while she was awaiting one of her operations, complicated by flu.
2. ANNIE DUKE
Mother-of-four, Duke’s beaten to top spot by Harman, but we doubt she’s bothered having won more tournament money than any other woman ($3,136,221 to date), and she’s so smart at calling bluffs she equalled an FBI man in a test to spot lies. Taught by her brother, top pro Howard Lederer, she knocked him out in her first World Championship, and came 10th in 2000 when nine months pregnant.
3. KATHY LIEBERT
Kathy won her first WSOP bracelet at the $1,500 Hold’em Shoot Out Event in 2004 and has had two second place WSOP finishes in her career. Earlier this year she won Poker Royale: Battle of the Sexes to scoop the $10,000 prize. Her tip? ‘The cardinal sin in poker is becoming emotionally involved. Empathise with your opponents while remaining devoid of all compassion. It’s very hard to do.’
4. CYNDY VIOLETTE
A vegetarian yoga-fan who protects her cards with spirit stones and wants to open an alternative bookshop, Violette won her first WSOP bracelet in last year’s 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo Split event, and made three more final tables at this year’s World Series. She currently lives in Atlantic City with her teenage daughter and plays regularly at the Taj Mahal at weekends.
5. LIZ LIEU
Liz burst on to the big stage this year with a fifth place finish at the WSOP $1500 No-Limit Hold’em. This netted her $168,590 – the capital she needed to play on a full-time basis – and she followed it up with fourth place at the Festa Al Largo. Lieu has been playing in Bellagio side-games for the last four years and decribes her game as ‘very aggressive’ and is feared for her ruthless all-in style.
6. ISABELLE MERCIER
Isabelle started out in corporate law but chucked it in for poker dealing. Starting off at L’Aviation Club de Paris she ended up running the show, but after deciding she could beat most of the players she joined the poker circuit. Since then she’s been on 18 final tables and won the EPT $500 Monte Carlo No Limit. Last year ‘No Mercy’ won the WPT Ladies event and was signed up by PokerStars.com.
7. CLONIE GOWEN
Gowen has become a popular face on the circuit, taking part in events as a player but also hosting, speaking and writing about them. She shot to fame on US TV screens after beating Annie Duke and Jennifer Harman in the WPT Ladies Night event in 2003. The mother of two from Texas now forms part of the Full Tilt team, alongside Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer et al. High praise indeed.
8. KRISTY GAZES
Gazes arrived on the poker scene this year with a bang when she won the FullTiltPoker.Net Championship and a cool $250,000 at the Wynn. She started playing poker in 1986, when she was still underage, but managed to bluff and charm her way into most places. She’s known for her quirky sense of humour, aggressive play and a large collection of sunglasses.
9. BARBARA ENRIGHT
Enright will forever by remembered as the first and only woman to reach the final of the WSOP Main Event, coming fi fth in 1995, after qualifying in a $10 satellite. She was clearly born to do it having played her first poker hand at the age of four, but after winning three bracelets in the 90s has suffered a barren period since. Now married to poker player and author Max Shapiro.
10. LUCY ROKACH
Britain’s only world-class female player stands fourth in the All- Time Women’s Money List with tournament winnings of $961,361. Lucy was born in Cairo, but now lives in Stoke-on-Trent near Dave Colclough. Generally considered to be the best woman player in Europe and as such was awarded a European Poker Lifetime Achievement accolade. Nickname? ‘Golden Ovaries.’
BEST OF THE REST
Okay, many of you will be outraged that the world’s favourite female player has been relegated to second place. Sure, in terms of glamour, personality and sheer charisma Annie Duke would have to be top, but we think that Jennifer is the more consistent, tougher player whose winnings in side games probably outstrip Annie’s superior tournament results. We’re sorry not to find room for Melissa Hayden, who has made seven money finishes at the WSOP and is 10th on the Women’s All-Time Money List. Also just missing the cut are Marcia Waggoner, Evelyn Ng, Xuyen ‘Bad Girl’ Pham and all British-born women players. And, unfortunately, one showing, however impressive, at the WSOP isn’t enough to put British resident, US-born Tiffany Williamson among the luminaries. As for Hollywood actress-cumpoker player Jennifer Tilly, only time will tell whether she fulfils her potential.