Ladies Weigh in on Open Fields and Misogyny in Poker
It's Ladies' Week at the 2019 World Series of Poker and around town in Las Vegas, and PokerNews had the opportunity to interview players in Thursday's field.
The $1,000/$10,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold'em Championship began at 11:00 a.m., with a much bigger starting stack and a single re-entry for the first time in the event's history. Last year's field attracted 696 entries, so with 881 entries so far and a few hours left to register, the prize pool is slated to be a big one.
Ladies Events vs. Open Fields
Over the last few years, there has been much debate over whether or not Ladies'-only tournaments should exist. On one hand, some ladies believe that in order for both genders to be equal in this game, all events should remain open. On the other hand, some ladies feel strongly that these events are a path to feeling more comfortable about playing open events over time.
World Poker Tour Vice-President of Global Tour Management Angelica Hael is of that opinion: "You need to have a multi-pronged approach. It's very complicated - there's a lot of nuances attached to it. So, you have to have strategies for women like me who love poker but don't have the time - and the recreational player."
"Share your experiences with your male and female friends who are regular players, because this behavior only stops when the majority of people unaffected by it become aware it's a problem."
Additionally, Hael feels as though asking if Ladies' events should exist doesn't truly capture the real essence of what the issue truly is. "I think ladies' events like this are fantastic for women like me. I think you need to have a different, multiple approaches for sure."
In talking with Women's Poker Association (WPA) advocate Ruth Hall, she believes the ladies population has yet to be tapped in this industry.
"We need more females encouraging other females to come and play," Hall told PokerNews. "Home leagues and sponsorships need to happen for us to be able to increase the percentage of females at the WSOP. That would be my goal."
There has been plenty of talk about growth in poker in general, and Twitch streamer Vanessa Kade weighed in on this in the ladies' arena. "While I understand that ultimately being viewed as equals means we might do away with any events that separate us, in the meantime, I think they draw in tons of new or less experienced players who may not feel confident or comfortable enough yet to play open games.”
Many ladies feel as though these special events create bonds in the community, and Kade agrees: "They help create friendships and communities where we can support each other and grow together."
Two-time WSOP Circuit ring winner Kristi Garcia shares this sentiment as well and believes there is a "big boom for poker" right now: "I think ladies' events are great. I like that more women are coming out and playing the game. Things like this help build camaraderie and people bring along their friends, so it's inviting more females to the game."
Advice for Dealing with Misogyny in Poker
Misogyny in poker has been at the forefront of topics in the industry for a while and some of the ladies had some advice on how to deal with it.
Hall believes that "knowledge is power," and that all ladies should go over TDA rules and be armed with a copy at all times. "Our home league utilizes the TDA rules - call the floor."
While this approach may seem simple, that is not always the case and some ladies might not be comfortable enough to stand up for themselves. Hael draws on the fact that women have been dealing with uncomfortable situations for years, and this is no different.
"You're a woman, and how many situations and circumstances in your life have you had where you need to go outside of your comfort zone? And you do it."
"So, you have to have strategies for women like me who love poker but don't have the time - and the recreational player."
"And you do it because you're a woman," continued Hael. "For me, it's not a poker question - a woman knows what she needs to do."
Kade echos the sentiments of both Hall and Hael, also acknowledging that she would "love to see dealers and floor directed to interject and shut down this behavior more efficiently."
The Twitch streamer also talked about knowing how easy it is for just one instance of sexism at the tables to really ruin anyone's day.
"These encounters make a huge impact and easily ruin the experience for the entire day or longer. Share your experiences with your male and female friends who are regular players, because this behavior only stops when the majority of people unaffected by it become aware it's a problem."