15 February 2018

Women are always a minority in the poker world unless it is a Ladies Only Event. Recently I played a mini River Poker Series, $150 NLH turbo tournament on Thursday at our closest casino Winstar at Thackerville OK. Out of 160 entrants there were about 25 women! That was encouraging. My first table had 3 women sitting at it, all very nice and very good players. We lost one woman early due to a bad beat and she graciously said “good hand” and “good luck everybody”.  I know she was fuming a little but you would never be able to tell it.

Tournament play went on and we got moved to other tables where I was the only woman, but the guys were all real nice. Next move was when we got down to two tables and again I had three women at my table. Payout was top 17 players so I was hoping to at least make the money. I finally looked down at pocket 10’s and being short stacked I raised all in and got 3 callers! Pocket KK, 77 and JJ. Oh no! My tens shrank up but it was too late as I had shoved first. I did the stand up walk away and then the miracle happened. A 10 came on the river. Stunned I sat back down at my chair and gathered my chips. I really felt bad, for like a nanosecond, as I did not have the best hand pre-flop. But I was the “lucky one” to hit on the river when nobody else had hit their pairs. I would never gloat or brag and I try to be respectful whether I win or lose.

This is not the case for all women however. One of the players who were also in the all in hand was another women at the table. She held the pocket 77 and was left with a short stack after the conclusion of the hand. She made a remark something like “you sucked out on the river is why you have those chips.” I did not reply but silently I wanted to remind her that her pocket pair was smaller than mine. I bit my tongue.

This woman was abusive and the worst blind defender, ever. She criticized everyone who raised her or berated them for what cards they played. Once a guy re-raised her and she screamed, “Seriously? Do you not give me any credit for ever having a hand?” After his pocket AA beat her AK she literally threw her cards at the dealer. The dealer called the floor who admonished her for being rude and warned her if she threw her cards again, she’d suffer a penalty. Her boyfriend came over to talk to her and she also ripped into him and screamed for him to not bother her.

When we finally get down to 19 players, disaster strikes for me. I really did not listen to my inner voice and I guess I was still euphoric over my tens winning that 4 way hand. I made the decision to call an all-in from the conservative guy at the high jack position after looking down at pocket nines. I hoped he had a big ace but I was wrong. He tables his pocket KK and I tabled my pocket 99. There was a king on the river and my chances of winning quickly vanished so I stood and said “good hand” and “good luck everybody” and started to walk away just out of the money.

As I was leaving, several of the guys came over and shook my hand and told me I played really well and they enjoyed playing with me. I then hear the abusive woman tell the table that I made a stupid call and deserved to be out. Grrr. If we want to be respected in this poker community, we cannot act like this woman. We women need to encourage other women to play and make them feel welcomed. Not abuse or belittle them!

I left feeling good with how I played overall (with the exception of that last call where I could not find a fold) and how I handled her abuse. I know that the only way I can see the change I hope for, is to lead by example. Women have a place as part of the larger community of poker but, one bad apple can make us all look bad.

It is a new era and we are in the early stages of trying to unite women poker players by starting the Women’s Poker Association. When you get highly motivated women who work together we can accomplish amazing things. This alliance of women will benefit the average player as well as the professional player and any who represent us at the national and global levels.

Poker rules and etiquette should be the first thing we help teach newcomers. This would enhance all our playing experiences. If we are striving for respect in poker, then we have to be respectful. I have put up with abusive men at the tables before and can handle it for the most part. The floor will usually handle abuse too but when it came from one of our own, I was so disappointed.

Women should have the opportunity to experience the joy of poker playing at any level of expertise or at any age. There is strength in numbers so together, we have a strong voice. We need to be a faster growing segment of the poker world. Help us to do that by joining and supporting WPA.

Author – Lori Smith, Board Member