A quiet revolution has been going on in the world of poker – a revolution that has seen more and more women becoming involved in a game that was once the sole domain of men. Many believe that the rise and rise of the online game has had a major role in introducing women to poker and many are now deciding to try out their skills in live games.
Having said this, there have been high profile successes for some time now including in 2006 when the writer and broadcaster Victoria Coren-Mitchell became the first ever woman to win the European Poker Tour and a £1 million prize. Incidentally she also proved to be victorious for a second time in San Remo in 2014 as has subsequently done a great deal to encourage more women to take up the game.
So for quite some time women have been doing as well as, if not better than, their male counterparts in the world’s biggest poker events when competing in big events – with players like Victoria Selbst and Kathy Liebert leading the way.
Both have enjoyed some major milestones in careers show no signs of stalling. For example Selbst has been the first to clear over $10 million dollars in lifetime winnings and in 2002 Liebert was the first woman win the Party Poker Million. This high profile success is certain to have inspired countless other women to experience the thrill of poker playing for themselves.
The next major breakthrough for the women’s game will surely be when the first woman wins a World Poker Tour event. Kelly Minkin came very close when she won over $260,000 claiming third place in the 2015 WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open. A couple of years earlier, in 2013, Selbst came even closer by coming second in the Borgota Poker Open scooping a prize pot of over $490,000.
This year’s World Series of Poker, held in Las Vegas earlier this summer, saw two very noteworthy performances from women players. Natasha Barbour entered the $5,000 No Limit Hold’em Event and went on to win $348,374 but this was eclipsed by the $500,000 won in the $1,500 Buy-In Millionaire Maker by Lisa Meredith. Meredith’s victory was even more remarkable because previously her experience of tournament play had been limited to casual games in her home town of Portland, Oregon. Interviewed after her victory, she said she simply planned to go back to her day job as a teacher. Proof, if it was needed that even non-pros are starting to make a real mark at the highest levels.
So no-one can deny that male domination of the poker scene is increasingly under threat – and surely it can’t be long before the glass ceiling is finally smashed by the first woman to beat the men at their own game by winning the WSOP’s Main Event.