Originally Posted by missjacki
I know I've started a thread like this before, but it's been a couple years and the topic has come up again not just here on the forums, but on twitter and in real life etc.
There have been those who have suggested another poker "Boom" like the chris moneymaker effect simply cannot happen until more women start to become interested in poker. To me, that makes a lot of sense but I don't know how to make that happen.
I am basically starting this thread to move a current conversation out of a hand analysis thread that we were derailing. If you want to read the beginning part of the conversation, you can find that thread here: $888 NLHE MTT Turbo: WSOP Crazy 8's Questionable Hand
But basically I am responding to Nutcracker69, and anyone else who is interested.
I think the low numbers of women in poker is multi-faceted. And I think very little of it has to do with biology (though probably more than 0%) and mostly has to do with culture, soceital norms, expectations, traditional gender roles, opportunities etc.
INCOME DISPARITY/ OPPORTUNITY COST
First, you posit that although women reportedly earn 30% less than men, poker is a venture where the playing field is leveled and women can use it as a "proving grounds" that they can perform at levels equal to or better than men. That is one way of looking at it. But isn't another way of looking at it to say that since women earn 30% less than men, the buy in is effectively 30% HIGHER for women? I know that the cost is exactly the same in real dollars. But when you look at it in terms of percentage of expendible income....the buy in is more significant to the group who earns less.
For example, if you were to compile a list of the 10 richest and 10 poorest countries and compare those lists to WSOP entrants from all countries....I'll bet you'd find that "rich" countries are represented at much higher rates than "poor" countries. It is not to suggest that people in those poor countries are any less smart or capable of doing well at poker....simply that the relative expense of entering those events is higher for people who earn less money.
But, even if the income disparity is a real reason it would only account for up to 30% fewer females than average...and we KNOW the actual numbers of females is much smaller (between 5-15% on average). So there is clearly something else going on here.
CULTURE, GENDER and COMPETITION
I think a bigger factor is cultural expectations and gender roles. Society does not generally promote a positive and optimistic view of competitive women....though it is slowly changing it wasn't that long ago that even high school sports offered nothing to girls aside from cheerleading. My aunt tried to start the first female basketball team in her high school in 1972 but they had less than the minimum 5 girls needed to play. It took until 1974 before she found 4 other girls willing to play (her junior year) and they played all 4 quarters with no subs and travelled long distances to find other female basketball teams to play against and there was virtually no funding from the school district. And this was a highschool with hundreds of students.
So yes, that is all changing but not overnight. Now, 40 years later we do have equal numbers of female sports as male sports offered in schools and colleges (only due to Title IX legislation) but after college there is almost zero opportunity for female professional athletes. So even females who are encouraged to pursue competitive sports and excel at them have a deep understanding that it will always just be a "hobby" and not a career. This may seem trivial....but actually it frames the way those women will view sports and competition for their whole lives.
GENDER NORMS AND FEMININITY
OK, aside from money and aside from competition there is the entire idea of femininity. Many women are concerned with seeming attractive to potential partners and husbands and therefore pursue more traditionally "feminine" things.
DOUBLE STANDARD in PARENTING and MOTHER'S GUILT
And then there is motherhood. We know that women are mothers at roughly the same rate as men are fathers, but the roles are treated very differently by society and even by ourselves. It is a well known phenomenon amongst women that mom's feel guilty for taking any "me" time, and dad's rarely feel the same way. And these can be very good dads too. If a man works 40 hours a week and only has saturday and sunday to spend with his family, he thinks nothing about spending half of saturday golfing with his buddies and spending Sunday afternoon watching sports and hiding in his "man cave". I know that's how it was in my family growing up. Meanwhile, the mom in the same family might take a ladies night or a spa day every few weeks, but she will feel at least some level of guilt for "abandoning" her children (even if she is the primary caregiver).
This "mother" complex extends beyond just mothers too. I know that I do feel some level of guilt when I go and play, but I get past it and juggle my priorities as best I can. But I am honestly shocked how often I am questioned at the table about "who is watching" my children or "what does your husband think about you being at the casino while he's watching the kids?" Now, usually these men aren't trying to imply I'm a bad mom, they are just making small talk and are genuinely curious about how a poker playing mom makes it work. But I have never heard any type of similar questions asked of the male poker players who are fathers (which is most of them). Presumably, most of the players in the poker room have "abandoned their children" but only the female poker players are questioned about it and made to feel like it is a deviant or questionable use of their time.
MARKETING WORKS IN EVERY OTHER BUSINESS, AND IT WORKS IN POKER TOO
Then there is poker marketing....it is almost exclusively marketed to men. Most of the time when a woman is shown in any kind of advertisement or promotion having to do with poker she is some scantily clad buxom beauty who is clinging to some man who is a poker "winner". Example: The royal flush girls. When women poker players ARE featured in an article or magazine it is frequently in some kind of sexy pose or in a sexy outfit where her male counterparts would be photographed smiling with a pile of chips or trophy in front of them. WHO is that marketed towards? Do you think female poker players are extremely interested in the cleavage and midriff of other female poker players?
You make a good argument that women "gamble" or frequent casinos in roughly the same numbers as men. I don't know if that is actually true....but in just looking around the casino it certainly "seems" true and yet women tend to gravitate towards the slot machines and men tend to gravitate more towards games of "skill". Why is this? I honestly don't know but if I had to guess, I'd say intimidation. Slot machines are not nearly as intimidating as sitting at a table full of strangers (men) who all seem to know what they are doing and you are just learning. Add to that fact that you stick out like a sore thumb so it's even tougher to "blend in" and seem like you know what you are doing....women just get WAAAAAAY more attention at the poker table.
I also find it interesting that among casino patrons, their average annual income is significantly higher than the national average...so you would assume since men earn more than women, that men would frequent casinos more often...so I'd infer from that data that women may treat casinos as casual entertainment and men treat it more of a "thrill" and the more they are risking the more "thrilling" it becomes....I don't know about that last part...just kind of a guess.
I find it interesting that even though women earn reportedly 25-30% less than their male counterparts, women tend to save MORE money in their 401-Ks than their male counterparts. And this is NOT adjusted for the income disparity. So they are overcoming the income gap and actually saving more than the men, so in essence they are saving 30+% more than their male counterparts. What does this suggest for gambling? I don't know really, but I find it interesting that women and men can approach their finances so differently. Maybe women feel more of a need for security than males do?
Now, I'm not really complaining about these things. It obviously hasn't deterred me and I'm the kind of person who has always enjoyed being different, and the attention that accompanies being different. But if we're talking about women in general....it adds a lot of pressure to be SO CONSPICUOUS in a situation compared to your competition. My sister, for example is a pretty decent online poker player but has to spend weeks gathering her courage every time she wants to go play in a casino. And even though she usually wins or breaks even at the casino she doesn't enjoy it like she enjoys online...she feels anxious and exposed and vulnerable the whole time.
ok....that's enough long winded rambling for now. I've got more but....
Jesus Christ, do you write a fking blog or something? lol
I actually appreciate that this has probably been the best/most interesting conversation I've been a part of on here thus far.
I've got no counterpoint to the fact that marketers have an agenda. Generally speaking, most advertising is really, really stupid. At least 75% of it comes out of New York and the average New York Ad Man hasn't evolved from Don Draper EVEN IF HE'S GAY. They think that America consists of 2 groups of people. 1) People from New York and 2) Everyone else who wishes they lived there (and could "make it there"). It disgusts me to no end, because I'm in Chicago and we're constantly AT BEST the 2nd city (except in things like murders and gun violence, we dominate that - oh and 3 out of the last 6 Stanley Cups but Hockey ratings are some of the lowest in sports). Even the VERY PROMINENT Ad company here sells out to "new york ideals" and this bullshit of what the ads should ..........fkkk it I'm done with this cuz I hate this topic but yeah poker marketing in general is atrocious and the WPT is the WORST offender. But look at the people running that ship and it's not hard to see why.
Next, to the mommy/daddy argument, you're a little off. Especially in today's "new school" environment where the major success is from 20 somethings, they are nowhere near fatherhood. Esfandiari finally did it at what? 44? and after he secured his place in the world with the One Drop win. Nice to see Mercier getting engaged, but we all know that an engagement can be anywhere from a week to 10-20 years sometimes it seems before a kid enters the picture (if at all). Also, no offense to her, I'd assume she's an awesome person, but seems to me like he made the "smart" play going for actual important relationship qualities rather than the hottest girl he could find (looking at YOU Tom Brady). That is, of course, because we all know that all women are on a graph with crazy on one axis and hot on the other. They're more than highly correlated. I tried the smart play in my marriage too and it blew up in my face. So yeah, I actually find that I'm one of the few dads in the room live and more than not, they're like me with tethered or no relationship with their kids at all (usually not by their chosing, although, historically stats show more choice there for average black fathers). So someone could try and give me sht about why I'm playing the WSOP instead of spending time with my son and I will at least be "relieved" from play that year if not banned because they're getting a serious beat down.
And hate to burst your bubble again (because I like your thoughts and generally agree with them) but I can speak professionally about your money management point. You didn't outright say it, but in MANY contemporary relationships, the woman handles the finances. Just ask TimMovieMan who had to get staked to start playing for real because his wouldn't let him deposit. She pays the bills and makes sure that most of the finances are in line. VERY FEW guys are as dumb as I was to COMPLETELY turn over my income which resulted in having no say whatsoever in how money was spent. (Can you tell I really loved my marriage?) But back to the point of my rebuttal. In the half-decade I spent as a Financial Advisor I can tell you that the 401k, etc., savings stats are skewed. There are SOME independent women who chose to save/invest at appropriate times in their lives/careers well before a suitable mate has arrived (if that's the end game). BUT, the amounts stocked away by these women is marginal, at best. It only SEEMS significant because, like me, almost every 20 something guy well before marriage is on the table views his current job and income as a stepping stone to what's next and better. So, sure, I could save whatever like 2-5% of my salary in a 401(k) that gets 100% company matching (once vested) to start planning for the future. But two problems there: 1) If you're smart, you should be able to take that same "investment" and get significantly better returns elsewhere (especially since most programs limit your "investment" choices) and (2) Congratulations! You've just stocked away money that you can't touch until your 60s without significant tax penalties (with minor exceptions). All that being said, I've had 2 401(k)s. In both instances, I was mostly trying to use my company's match as "free money" and made ALL my own investment choices. I have an MBA in Financial Analysis and Investments. As a kid, even if the dumbest kids in the school were put on my team, we always won the stock market challenge. When I was still able to run my fund, we were one of 2 funds that outpaced the S&P and other placemarkers for 10 straight years. The other fund was run by Bernie Madoff. LMMFAO. Sht it's late and now I'm way off topic. Long story short, the stats seem to show greater 401(k) and other savings from women for two reasons. In a relationship, the main breadwinner being a man is going to have "his" money used to pay for most of living expenses and every stupid fking extracurricular their dumb kids try every year. The woman's money, which is significantly less, is freed up to be "smart" and do things like invest in 401(k)s. That's not to say this wouldn't have been possible more organically. I had a client who put away maybe $25 or $50 into a dogsht fund every month because she was fresh out of college and basically made no money. Yet she was much easier to convince that she ought to start with SOMETHING rather than her 20 something counterparts who saw "investing/saving" as taking away from their weekend beer money with friends. (And not to sound even more shovanistic but IMO, especially in the club scene where I spent my young adult life guys couldn't leave the house with less than $100 (or double) if they wanted to enjoy themselves at all. My girl friends flaunted the fact that they either left the house with NO MONEY AT ALL or they essentially hid some in their tiny purses for emergencies and then proceeded to have their whole nights paid for them.) Point being the stats back it up but it's a misnomer and an externality rather than simply a character/gender difference.
Now again, speaking to general differences in exposure to the game. We all know about the MANY successful millionaires (unless they got shtty 70/30 or worse staking deals like Dave likes) who played in school, but quit before graduating and now play full time. You hear a lot less of this from women. Maria Ho, who has arguably the best showing in the WSOP Main in recent years for women not only did school first, but American Idol, Amazing Race and like 100 other things while grinding lower levels. Hell, Selbst became a lawyer first. Comparatively speaking, you hear ALL THE TIME about dudes (who probably had no shot at getting laid that night) getting a group together to have a poker night. Part of the "intimidation" your talk about mostly with your sister is actually felt by almost all newbies. Average guys just have the advantage of having started with their friends to give them the hubris
to step to the table.
I don't fault your logic that if they're unfortunate enough to have 30% less funds, the entry fee is proportionally more for them. But you also concede that it clearly doesn't account for the entire difference. Also, we're not really talking about high roller events. Even the MAIN is still only the same 10k it was YEARS ago. There are plenty of chances to win a bracelet with an entry of just a few hundred dollars. And while I'm in that lovely 10% that can't afford it, most can, it's just a matter of taking that "chance."
By the way, your totally valid point about "competitive" women in sports can kiss my ass. Because of stupid ass Title IX, I had to wait until my junior year of HS to be able to play volleyball. I didn't start until I was a Senior and then I was all-state. But volleyball, like runway modelling is for tall people. I would only be tall if I traveled to some Asian countries. So, the VERY FEW full ride scholarships to college for GUYS to play volleyball were NOT EXACTLY seeking out right-side hitters like me, especially since about 95% of teams went with a 2 setter and/or setter and backrow specialist and NO right-side hitter, including my team when I was a junior. So I started as a backrow specialist and happened to get really good at backrow defense, but was basically forbidden from getting a chance to ever approach the net (where I later DOMINATED the next year -- I'm short but I had pro-sized hops). So I had to go and "try out" for the Club team at my college, because like most colleges and universities Men's Volleyball was not a sanctioned sport. I was the last to get cut which feels exactly the same as bubbling a major poker tourney. Turns out the guys on the team were typical douchebags so I would've been playing to play and not for anything social.
Sorry, I'm still bitter about how Title IX stole my happiness.
I honestly think a more valid point is competitive women in business, rather than sports. Because at least in sports Olympic stars are given "some" due even if their counterparts earn more. In business, just look at Carly Fiorina. Granted, she almost single-handedly destroyed what was once a very viable business model. But a man with an attitude/temper/opinion can be viewed as a strong leader (even if he's an asshole like Steve Jobs) but a woman with any fire is just seen as a bitch. And that's at all levels of the workforce.
But that actually kinda makes my original contention that these "bitches" should want to put up or shutup and put the men in their place by taking down their precious tournament. Kathy Laney (sp?) seems to take this approach.
Then you have your point about femininity. I see it, but don't really buy it. I thought Vanessa Ruosso was attractive until I saw Ebony Kenney. (1) I don't prefer short-haired girls and (2) I'm not being racist, just honest that I've generally been attracted to less black (any %) girls than most other races. Yet, like most men in the poker world, I would clearly not throw her out of bed. That being said, despite the fact that I'm normally somewhere between attractive and "hot" that situation is NEVER happening. Point is, you can be a "girl's girl" or "girly girl" and still have no problem raking in the chips. To your later point, it certainly doesn't hurt for sponsorship deals if you find success in the game. Although you may find that the 12 hour a day grind leaves you preferring to wear a hat which, in normal life, is not a symbol of femininity or male preference. But it's poker where traditionally the majority of players opt for caps. Myself, included... despite having an awesome hair faux hawk. I say that gently, noticing your cap in your profile pic. No offense intended. Caps for everyone!
So now we've both typed out a lot of information here (and I look forward to your reply) but I don't think that even combined we have scratched the surface, gotten to the root cause, or been enlightened with any solutions. Do I need to link you to that other thread on here currently? I did my best to rip those guys a new one because it was typical woman-bashing nonsense about how women poker players are absolutely terrible. These idiots think that because there has only been one Barbara Enright that that somehow proves that women are inferior players. In many tournaments, the % of cashing women is greater than the % of women entrants. So, yeah, it basically proves that they're better.
You guys think that a "pro" is incapable of being rattled or "tilted" in any way. Put me in a game with whoever you think the best right now is.... Brian Rast, Doug Polk, Jason Mercier and given an opportunity to prepare some material and then cards to beat them down even a little I GUARANTEE I get in their heads. Rast is easy because he's honestly a lucky fk donkey. Simply pointing that out and then beating him in enough marginal spots would easily do it since he was so rattled by the notion that he was bluffed off a big pot at the WPT A8 Vegas FT suggesting his opponent turned 22 fh counterfeited by 3rd ace into a bluff on the river when Rast had a middle PP... when in fact his opponent had quad aces and never showed. Polk I'm not sure I have material yet. Mercier might lose his cool (at least a little, he's pretty cool/calm) if i can crack his aces at least once and then remind him of the millions he missed out on ALL those A8 appearances getting felted holding aces.
What's my point? Put me up against ANY female intermediate to pro and I basically have no chance of rattling them. It's like their immune. Where we can easily get hung up on the previous hand, it's like they immediately move on to the next one until there is no next one. I'd take a wild guess that Phil Helmuth would react slightly differently to this runout than Jen Harman did: