Historically, poker has often been viewed, unofficially, as more of a “man’s game.” When most people think about poker, they picture a group of young men dealing cards and sipping beers in a poorly lit room, or beleaguered businessmen sitting around a table in a casino. Even movies that revolve around poker, like Rounders or Mississippi Grind, tend to show mostly male players; likewise, the spotlight at professional poker events on television tends to shine on the men.
With all of that said, there are plenty of successful female poker players, from professional tournament winners to celebrities who are frequently seen participating in high-stakes games –– proving that women can (of course) thrive in the world of poker. Still, many people may yet view poker as a game for men, and might (justifiably) perceive that it makes for something of a difficult environment for women. It’s with that in mind that we wanted to cover a few tips for women who want to make it in poker.
Women are Excellent Players: Get used to it!
There are plenty of examples of successful female players –– from World Series of Poker and European Poker Tour Champions like Annie Duke and Liv Boeree, to famous actress-turned-poker pro Shannon Elizabeth. And if that’s not enough, there are also studies that indicate that under certain conditions, female players may even be at an advantage.
Stress, for example, tends to make men take greater risks than women –– something that could cloud their judgment during crucial moments in a game of poker. Meanwhile, another experiment found that male poker players overall bluff more frequently, but also tend to overestimate their chances of getting away with bluffing if they are playing against a female opponent.
Taking these ideas to heart, and getting used to the idea that women can and do thrive in poker, is a great first step toward succeeding in the game yourself.
Follow the Greats Closely
There are plenty of books and tutorials on how to improve your game. But nothing beats watching the professionals play and analyzing their strategies. Indeed, even many professional poker players manage to greatly improve their games by trying to deconstruct the tactics used by the best players in the world. And as alluded to above, there are plenty of female examples to follow.
Some of the greatest female poker players include Vanessa Selbst, who’s made around $12 million (at least) playing at poker tournaments, and Kristen Bicknell, who owns three WSOP bracelets and is considered by many to be the best active female poker player in the world. Watching these women and observing their victories (or defeats!) in previous tournaments can serve as inspiration, but also as a lesson in how professional poker players think and act.
Start Playing Online to Build Up your Confidence
We’ve discussed the importance of working on self-confidence in general, through anything from building positive relationships with others, to tweaking your appearance. And however you go about doing it, improving self-confidence can be a major factor at the poker tables as well. Women have reported feeling intimidated when participating in live poker events, due to how male-centric they are. Being more sure of yourself –– both generally and with regard to poker –– should help to mitigate those feelings of intimidation. You may even become intimidating to opponents yourself!
It’s undeniable that the male presence dominates poker, whether we are talking about live games, professional news headlines, or even works of fiction. But by following these tips, you can feel more comfortable breaking in, and joining the many other women who succeed and have a blast in the poker world.