Is there a place in poker for women-only poker tournaments? We asked two famous poker players for their honest opinion

PokerPlayer asks if there’s a place for women-only tournaments in today’s game?


Lucy Rokach – UK’s winningest female player

In any activity dominated almost exclusively by one group, there has to be a case for positive discrimination. In the case of live poker, the whole casino experience can be intimidating for the lone uninitiated woman, where the gambling industry is geared towards men. If you can get women used to going to a cardroom and have an enjoyable night out in a non-threatening atmosphere, half the battle’s won.

Only last year, in a televised ladies tournament, several of the women were literally shaking they were so nervous – that’s the extent of the uphill struggle we have to climb. On top of all that, whether they aren’t even aware they’re doing it, some men like to belittle women at the table. I’ve seen it repeatedly in my 20-year playing career. Just a couple of months ago, a young buck kept shredding a woman’s play to pieces. Maybe his play was superior but who gives a toss?

Conversely, the ladies tournaments that I’ve played in are good-natured affairs and a lot of fun. Not that I enjoy playing against women, because I don’t. I don’t understand what they’re doing and can’t beat them! Give me a table full of men any day. Yum yum! Why? Because some of the male species can’t handle assertive women and will cut their nose off to spite their face in trying to beat them. In poker you can’t get much better than that.


Anna Wroblewski – Rising American star

The female camaraderie may be nicer and friendlier than in male-dominated events but it doesn’t make up for the negative aspects of an all-female tournament. The buy-in for most of them is too small to make it worthwhile and the structure is usually very poor, which takes all the skill out of the game. You’ve only got to look at the WSOP Ladies Championship to see what I mean – and that’s supposed to be the most prestigious event in the world! Okay, some women might see these tournaments as a soft touch because they attract beginners, but decent players aren’t going to be interested.

My first time playing an all-female tournament was at Caesars Palace. My friend bought me in for $ 330. I came in an hour late, started out with 1,500 chips and was down to about 800 when I took my seat. I took the liberty of just moving all-in every hand without looking, and ended up getting really lucky to win it.

Another female-only tournament I played was at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, and I remember running into quads four times and still wasn’t busted. I doubt that would have happened in a mixed gender tournament.

Maybe there was a case for women-only tournaments a few years ago, but the game has moved on now, and surely one of the beauties of poker is that anyone can play everyone on an equal footing.

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