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Daniel - Poker Journal

Sticking Up for the Ladies One More Time

13 Jun 2010

I spent the day vegging at home and reading random blogs, many of which discussed the ladies event stuff. Dusty Schmidt wrote one I agreed with, and Annie Duke wrote one I didn't agree with.

I guess what puzzles me the most about Annie Duke's position is that she appears to be proud to call herself "The Best Female Poker Player in the World," yet at the same time argues that there shouldn't be any separation between men and women in the poker world. I'm not making that up, on the front page of her website it clearly states "Annie Duke The Best Female Poker Player in the World." I'm not exactly sure how she earned that title, or who voted her Queen of poker, maybe it was "UB magazine," but I know for a fact that many of the women in poker find that offensive and would disagree strongly with that statement. If she feels that being gender specific when it comes to poker is meaningless, then why does she introduce herself as the best FEMALE poker player in the world? What gives?
If you polled Vanessa Selbst, Vanessa Rousso, Annette Oberstad, Jennifer Harman, Kathy Liebert, Liv Boeree, Maria Ho, Evelyn Ng, Kristi Gazes, and Mimi Tran, just to name a few, I can guarantee you that Annie's name wouldn't be the one they thought of when crowning "The Best Female Poker Player in the World." It's her website, so she can make whatever claim she wants I guess, but I don't think you'd see Phil Ivey being OK with his website saying "Best African-American Poker Player in the World." In my opinion, and in most players opinion, Phil Ivey is the best poker poker player in the world today... but you won't hear him say that. Like ever. When you are the best, you don't need to toot your own horn, others will toot it for you.

Aside from her position being hypocritical, in my opinion, separating herself from the men when referring to herself as the "best of the women," the facts in her blog were wrong. More women ARE playing in open events. This $1000 event this weekend saw about twice as many women enter than the previous $1000 events. The fact the ladies event was on the Friday is simply NOT a coincidence people. B.J. Nemeth points out that he counted about 55 women at 99 tables of the Sunday heat, which is about 6%.
Having said that, percentages are NOT what tells the story since the number of men playing has also increased. Bottom line is, more and more women ARE playing in open events at the WSOP each year. FACT.

As for needing an event specifically for women sending the message that they are inferior, that's also not true. There are 55 WSOP events open to both men and women. Women aren't excluded from playing in the open events and are welcome to play on an open playing field in every single bracelet event.

You also can't make the argument that the LIPS tour (a female poker tour) is somehow OK, but the WSOP Ladies event isn't. Both are tournaments geared towards getting women into poker. The only difference is the buy in level.

As for Shaun Deeb handling himself in a classy manner playing the event, at least he wasn't the guy using a tampon as a card protector, but he did dress in drag and his goal was to make a mockery of the event, which in turn simply mocks the women who choose to enter it.

Poker is still mainly played by men. Women represent a small demographic in the poker world and I see nothing wrong with trying to reach out to them. There is precedent for this. The LA Kings each year have a "Ladies Day" where they teach women in LA about the game. Hockey is mainly played by men, so this is a way to reach out to a new demographic, no different then reaching out to women and introducing them to the game of poker.
I'll take that a step further. There is a woman who teaches black kids how to swim. I saw this on HBO Real Sports and it was a touching piece. Her own son died drowning because he never learned how to swim, and this wasn't uncommon for many blacks who grew up avoiding the pools. That traces way back to the days of racism when blacks weren't welcome to share public pools with whites, so many of them never learned how to swim:

"*The Swim Gap. When U.S. Olympic athlete Cullen Jones took to the podium with his teammates to accept the 4×100m freestyle relay gold medal at the Beijing Olympics last year, Americans saw something sadly unfamiliar: a successful African-American swimmer. Jones’ story, while inspirational and historically significant, is a reminder of the black community’s complex relationship with swimming. A Supreme Court ruling desegregating American beaches and pools in 1971 sparked riots and bloodshed, and much of the African-American community continues to hold an aversion to swimming today. Black children drown at a rate more than three times greater than whites and as many 75% of African-Americans do not know how to swim. Now, with Olympic gold in his pocket and fame on his side, Cullen Jones is doing everything he can to reverse these trends. Correspondent Mary Carrillo joins him to explore the relationship between race and swimming in this country."

Does anyone feel it is wrong of this woman, who lost her own son, to choose to try and make a difference by seeking to help a specific demographic learn to swim? Is it wrong for the LA Kings to have a "Ladies Day" to teach women about the game of hockey? Is it really wrong of Harrah's to have a special day dedicated to the women of poker by holding a special event, just for THEM? I say no!!!

I received tons of responses regarding my last blog, 99% of them being positive, but one in particular struck me as being powerful. A woman wrote to me and said something to the effect of: If women don't have the right to congregate amongst themselves then they are not truly free.

Here here.