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Women in Poker: A Brief History by JenGen7

February 7, 2024

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Just twenty short years ago, women were the undisputed minority when it came to high-stakes poker playing. It is mostly still true today, but the tides are turning.

For women in poker, it goes without saying, historically gambling was a social taboo for any woman who did not want scandal attached to her name. The first World Poker Tournament for Women was held in 1977 and still runs today — though not without gender-biased controversy.

The controversy is getting louder as only one woman has ever made it to the final table of the granddaddy of all open-live poker events, the WSOP 10K Main Event buy in. That is Barbara Enright, a true legend in her own right.

Today, following the online poker boom of the early turn of the 21st century, more and more women are placing their bets alongside the men, and winning. Women, in increasing numbers, are standing alongside the men in winners circles at trending rates. However, to date, no woman as ever won the WSOP Main Event. 

Now, that’s not to take any thunder away from the great men of poker legend. When I think of Poker Royalty my mind unfailing goes to Doyle Brunson. Who could have predicted he would become the grandfather of all legendary poker players to follow in his footsteps? And let’s not leave out showboats like Moneymaker. I am still talking about his first WSOP win in what would become known as the Moneymaker effect. He was the first online originating poker champion. 

As the list of poker champion women grows and trends, the one who has always stood out for me is Annie Duke, aka The Duchess. That could be because she comes from a poker playing family, to which I can relate. Without bias from me, take a look at her list of impressive high-stakes tournament wins and her numerous popular poker guidebooks. She has taken her shrewd poker skills and turned them into a profitable business in all aspects of her career. 

In researching why this trend with women proving themselves at the tables is happening, the findings were numerous and broad across the board. Things like women’s intuition, and that women are naturally better at reading non-verbal cues came up. For me personally, as a poker playing woman, I like to think more woman are drawn to poker playing for the challenge, excitement, and thrill of the game. Not unlike most men. 

So, who among us Replay Ladies is going after that WSOP dream? 

Suggested reading: 

A History of Women in Poker,

Top Ten Female Poker Players in 2024 by Veronica Taylor, June 2023

— JenGen7