The world of gambling has been very male orientated since the beginning, especially when it comes to Poker. Gambling goes back many centuries, but one of the first records of women taking part is in the 1700s with the ‘Faro Ladies’. These aristocratic women included Lady Buckinghamshire, Lady Sarah Archer, Mrs. Sturt, Mrs. Concannon and Lady Elizabeth Luttrell. They would each host faro tables as well as socialise and discuss political matters, and go on to be known as the Faro Daughters. These ladies continued to push barriers throughout society, doing things that men were doing at the time, they soon received fines and were publicly shamed.
Fast forward to the Wild Wild West in America’s 1800s, and we find one of the most famous and legendary women in gambling, ‘Poker Alice’. Alice Ivers Duffield Tubbs Huckert was taught to play Poker by her husband, when he died she got a job dealing at Poker tables. Through her basic knowledge and skills, she learnt to deal, Alice developed an ability to count cards and figure out if the odds were in her favour. Alice would win incredible amounts of money, sometimes $6,000 a night which is why she also carried a .38 revolver with her for protection – she knew how jealous the men could get of her winnings. Alice even opened her own gambling house in 1910, but always closed on a Sunday for her religious beliefs. By the time Alice died at the age of 75 in 1930, she has won over $250,000 at Poker tables, had three husbands, shot two men dead with her revolver and was a convicted felon – a formidable legacy.
Casinos were then forced to open their doors for female workers when World War II came along, men were off to fight the war and women had to fill in the roles of dealers and game hosts to keep the establishments going. By the 1970s, all the big cities with casinos were employing women, including notorious Las Vegas. It is from this boom that we now see women employed all over the male-orientated casino world.
Once the ladies were in, that was it, all sorts of women started sitting at the tables, gambling and winning big money regularly. Which brings us to take a look at the legendary women in poker.
When it comes to the Women’s WSOP, there’s no tournament more significant. The WSOP event champions are rewarded each with a WSOP bracelet, an item not only worth thousands but also as a symbol of elite play. Three women position themselves at the top of the leader board with each having won three WSOP bracelets: Nani Dollison, Barbara Enright and Vanessa Selbst, who also sits at the top of the table for most all-time earnings of $2,201,877. Barbara Enright was also the first woman ever inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
There are many other notable women in the world of poker. Kathy Liebert, a true veteran of the game who is an incredible role model to younger players, has managed to reach six final tables at the World Poker Tour. Annie Duke who was a College drop-out for Psychology and was awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship, dove into the game headfirst professionally playing and taking down WSOP Champions. The number of female idols in poker (including Liv Boeree and Vanessa Rousse) is incredible, and the game keeps opening new doors for women to walk through. Poker has adapted so much throughout the years, and thanks to the internet, online poker is there for women of all backgrounds to practise on before hitting the WSOP.