As far back as records indicate, gambling has been a significant source of entertainment in the world for over 4,000 years and is discussed in many textbooks dictated by Ancient civilizations. During these historic eras, and in the periods that followed, women were considered to have a low stature in society, naturally persecuted by their dominant male counterparts over many different accounts.
For centuries, women all over the world regardless of their class, had no social, economic or political rights, and were seen as plain, simple, reproductive machines. It wasn’t until the 1920’s that mankind finally began to realize what females were truly capable of, and in the years following, women all over began voting, smoking, drinking, celebrating and generally using their new found freedom to their advantage.
When did society evolve to the point where women were allowed to start gambling?
Despite the female oppression throughout history years, when it comes down to gambling, it is believed that females have been actively partaking in poker games since the 1800s.
In the wild west of South California, they were said to have hit a complete “gambling boom”, where regular poker matches and forms of Blackjack would occur inside cowboy-style saloons. Women weren’t just deemed as a payout for the men that won in these games, they actually had a seat at the table and were said to play fierce hands, just as good as the guys.
Original Lady Lucks of the Wild West
Some of the most renowned poker players of that time were Tules Barcelo, Lottie Deno and Kitty Leyroy.
Tules was a saloon owner herself from New Mexico, and an outstandingly good gambler, who passed away at 52 with $10,000 to her name (almost $2 million in today’s currency). She became a huge valuable asset to the U.S Army during the raid of New Mexico, after they borrowed money from her to feed and water the troops.
Lottie Deno aka Carlotta J. Thompkins was also a notorious gambler from the 1800s, hailing from Texas. She grew up with her father who taught her all of his tricks when it came to winning card games in plush casinos. Throughout her adult life, she was known for her exceptional Poker playing skills and earned the title of “Angel of Antonio”.
Then we have Kitty Leroy. She was typically known for being an entrepreneur for some of the most unorthodox occupations such as saloon-owner, prostitute and trick-shooter. She was also known for her promiscuous tendencies and a lifestyle which knew no boundaries, causing her to pass away aged just 27.
Women in Poker – Present Day
Some of the most profound Poker players in the world are women. The most undeniable female Poker pro is three-time World Series of Poker champion Vanessa Selbst. She sits on a fortune of over $11.8 million and is yet to have her track record beaten, despite taking early retirement at the start of 2018.
Kathy Leibert is also regarded as one of the top female Poker players of the 21st century. Although her accumulated winnings do not quite match up to Selbsts, she has been a veteran in the game for well over 20 years and has over $5 million under her belt.
Annie Duke is the only woman to ever win the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Although she hasn’t actively partaken in any tournaments since 2010, where she came in at 8th place with $25,000 prize money at the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions – the seasoned player has won $4,270,549 in hard cash and chips over the years.
The 2018 Poker Hall of Fame
In April this year, 11 of the most talented female Poker candidates were put forward to have their names featured in the Women’s Poker Hall of Fame. There were 50 initial submissions, and the board’s committee narrowed the results down to the following:
- Hermance Blum,
- Mandy Glogow,
- Angelica Hael,
- Haley Hintze,
- Maria Ho,
- Karina Jett,
- Terry King,
- Shirley Rosario,
- Kara Scott,
- Lupe Soto; and
- Jennifer Tilly (Yep! The Hollywood actress!)
The candidates were only put forward under the conditions that they had a minimum of 10 years in the industry, were aged 35+, and have acted as an overall advocate for Poker for 10+ years, or made a positive contribution to the movement in some shape or form.
All of the above names did meet the benchmark for the above points, but only 2 woman made it into the actual final.
The lucky pair selected for 2018’s hall of fame were: Lupe Soto; Founder of the Women’s Poker Association and CEO of the Senior Poker Tour – and Maria Ho; TV personality, commentator and record-breaking poker player who is currently ranked as the 4th on the GPI among female poker players across the world.
The WiPHoF ceremony took place at the Orleans Casino in Vegas, marking its 10th year running.
Where are all the other ladies in Poker at?
That’s a good question! Despite the fact Poker has been a male-dominated industry for many years, there are more and more females jumping on the bandwagon and hitting the tables, however; when it comes down to professional tournaments in the poker rooms, it still seems as though there is a lack of female presence.
In 2016, VICE conducted an interview with pro poker player and broadcaster Kara Scott, to find out what her thoughts on why woman in poker are still a bit of a rarity. She thinks it’s due to male presumptions over woman’s ability to play a good hand and tactful game, as well as the overall conjecture on stereotypes that simply put many females off even wanting to partake in any poker games with male players.
That being said, more events and celebrations are being thrown all over the world to encourage more female activity in Poker. Some include the World Poker Tour, which hosted the first ever all Female Poker Summit in August this year, as well as the World Series of Poker Ladies Event in the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino.
Times are changing
To this day, gambling remains one of the most popular, entertaining, yet addictive, activities men and women engage in every day, and it also generates a substantial amount of revenue for economies all over the world. As more and more countries legalize the use of on and offline gambling, and more stars emerge every year from the abundance of female talent out there already – women could well take the lead and stand as the champions of Poker one day!
Ted plays CoolCat Casino almost every day, he loves our games and he loves the wins that come with them. Ted also likes playing a variety of games from Enchanted Garden to Sweet 16 and this day was no exception.
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