Monday, April 1, 2013

It Seems Easier To Be a Female Handicapper

Since "Black Friday" when online poker sites were shut down, where women could not longer hone their skills in anonymity online, it's being felt in the game of hold em. Only 3% of the players at the last World Series of poker were women, which is not unlike it was several years ago. Women and poker are not growing in leaps and bounds like they should, especially with many high profile women players. Playing live is not a pleasant experience for many.
  • Now that online poker is outlawed in the U.S., there is a fear that the growth and acceptance of American women players will stall without a convenient, non-gender-biased place for them to nurture their games. Selbst is also concerned, explaining, "A lot of women feel that it's still an intimidating and unfriendly environment at the [live] poker table, and I can't say that I don't agree in a lot of circumstances." 
  • Many women players, including me, do in fact share Selbst's concern. A couple of weeks ago, I was playing Pot Limit Omaha at a Southern California casino, and a male player at the table sneezed grossness all over me. When he didn't apologize I said, "You realize that sprayed all over me, right?" He sneered back, "That's what she said." After that, I did my best to empty his pockets. By the end of the night, he left exasperated, saying, "I quit. I can't beat this game—no, I just can't beat her." I'm a poker veteran—and this wasn't the first sexist comment directed at me at a casino—but if it had been my first experience at a live table, I don't think I would have known how to respond. And wanting to avoid more abuse, I doubt I would have ever come back to that casino.
That doesn't sound overly welcoming, especially when you consider who the protagonist in the article is.
  • Selbst's success at poker may be genetic. Her mother—who died in 2005, just before Selbst became a poker superstar—was an MIT graduate who paid her way through college by playing poker, and her parents met during a bridge game. Growing up, Selbst's mom acted as her poker mentor, and the family encouraged competiveness by playing games like cribbage and Mastermind. Perhaps unfairly (see Susan Rice or Serena Williams), overt competitiveness and confidence is still perceived differently between the genders. Selbst's sometimes-abrasive public demeanor has made her a polarizing figure. A recent televised Selbst outburst ignited a harsh backlash on, poker's biggest online forum. But her intellect (she's a former Fulbright scholar and recent Yale Law School Graduate) and impressive results have earned her an undeniable level of respect and celebrity that is practically unequalled by any other woman in the history of poker.
That's clearly the type of person racing needs handicapping.

I would not know either way, other than anecdotally, but I expect it would be more welcoming for her in racing.

The NHC has plenty of women attendees who like handicapping. Go on twitter and watch a few women handicap and I don't know anyone - male or female - who treat them with disrespect like an Amarillo Slim, or the dude in the story above treated his female poker foes. And of course, you can play racing online.

Maybe that's why 20% or so of online ADW clients are women, while six times fewer are at the WSOP. Handicapping is welcoming, pari-mutuel, and a divine pursuit among all of us. We're taking each others money, but not like it's being done at an ascerbic poker table.


ITP said...

I don't personally like Vanessa but I will tell you that she would instantly realize that racing is not a game that she wants to play due to the larcenous rake compared to poker.

Anonymous said...

An OTB is worse than a poker table!

Yes.... racing is much more welcoming. The big question- Why are there not more women who bet skill games instead of games of chance?

Anonymous said...

Everybody's had rude and crude players to deal with, male or female. I certainly have had my share. I can't say they were mean to me because I am male. Do I detect a sense of entitlement because she's female? I've played with many of the opposite sex and have seldom ever seen them taunted any more than males, in fact the opposite is usually true. And this is one advantage that female players can use.

She responded the same way most normal men would have. What is friendly about somebody wanting to take all your money? There's supposed to be intimidation, although this buffoon took it too far. I find ignorant people are equally disrespectful of everyone of any creed or sex.

What you are suggesting here is that we be especially nice to females, coddle them, patronize them. They should be treated as equals, not special cases or superiors.

2plus3 said...

There's an old rule for the offshores that if they see a woman sign up it's an azzhole guy who got barred. If 20% is right horseracing should bow to the god's of gambling; they got women to join men in getting fleeced by the juice.

Pull the Pocket said...


"What you are suggesting here is that we be especially nice to females, coddle them, patronize them."

Her or me? I cant tell who you are addressing.

My post clearly does not say that. I am talking about horse racing, through online availabilty, twitter, facebook and other avenues being much more welcoming. The face to face barrage at a poker table (now with online poker about gone in the US) does not happen in handicapping.

For the record I have been to many poker tables and rarely see what the article writer spoke of, as you allude to. Maybe I have just not been to enough of them.


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