Take a look around at your local poker room during a busy evening. I bet you only find a handful of women in the crowd. That’s par for the course in most card rooms and at the WSOP these days, and it’s troublesome to the future growth of the game.
In the recently completed WSOP $10,000 limit hold’em event, all 114 players were male. In the Main Event, only about 4 percent of the field will be female.
There are numerous things we can do as a poker community to attract more women to the game. But before I make those suggestions, we must first address the root of the problem.
Why don’t more ladies play poker?
I spoke to Lena Evans, the founder of the Poker League of Nations women’s advocacy organization, and she suggested that there aren’t enough affordable games for young women so they don’t start out playing at a young enough age.
Another issue addressed by multiple members of the PLON is sexual harassment. I’ve seen it myself and have heard from women that play who have told me they are often harassed at the table by men.
The third main reason I believe poker doesn’t attract enough women is because poker is seen by many as a “man’s game,” even though the truth is there are many women out there (Vanessa Selbst, Cyndy Violette, Kristen Bicknell, etc.) who have proven females are more than capable of competing at the highest levels.
How Can We Bring More Women into Poker?
First and foremost, men have got to refrain from making unwanted sexual passes towards women at the poker table. Look, I get it. If you see a hottie, it’s human nature to flirt with her and try to get her digits. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I’ve seen women clearly show no interest in a dude at the poker table yet he still attempts to get down her pants.
We have to make the game more inviting for women. Think of it this way. Would you rather sit down at a table full of fat, old dudes in hoodies or pretty ladies?
Beyond that, the media needs to do a better job of highlighting the successful female poker players. There’s nothing wrong with hyping up women in poker. There are some very talented ladies out there and they deserve as much attention as the men. By hyping them up, this will encourage other women to play. Remember when amateur, average dude Chris Moneymaker won the Main Event and all of a sudden everyone was playing poker? That’s because people watched it on TV and wanted to become the next Moneymaker.
And that brings me to my next point which we can’t control: A woman winning the Main Event. That could spark a female poker boom. Unfortunately, with only 4 percent of the field being women, it’s unlikely to happen.
I would love to see more women at the table. Not because I think they suck at poker but more because I want to see the game grow in popularity.