Last year, the gender split for the Main Event of the weeks-long tournament in Las Vegas was almost 24 to 1. This year’s highly popular Colossus event attracted more than 22,000 entries but only 1,416 were women, just 6 percent.
Making poker more appealing to women has been a long-standing quandary for industry observers and players who wonder what it will take to get more women to the table.
”There’s a big market out there, untapped,” said Jessica Dawley, a poker pro and something of an ambassador for women in poker through sponsor 888poker, who said intimidation and the not uncommon sexist comments from male players at the table can be a factor.
Put them all in the same room for a ladies-only no limit hold `em championship, though, and there’s more banter, laughter and compliments traded than at the tournament’s other events, with no lack of serious gameplay.
Take what happened to high-profile defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden when she pushed all of her remaining chips in for one last bet Friday night, and lost, even with an ace. Her table-mates offered her congratulations and friendly goodbyes, a different sort of collegiality not regularly seen at an all-male table where there might be handshakes but also poker faces masked by hoodies, dark sunglasses and silent intensity.