Inauguaral Women’s Poker Summit to Address Gender Inequality, Toxic Table Behavior

August 10th, 2018 by CardsChat News

Angelica Hael has heard enough talk about making the world of poker a more hospitable place for women. Now she’s taking action, and invites others to join her at the inaugural Women’s Poker Summit.

Angelica Hael at WPT Cambodia

World Poker Tour VP Angelica Hael, seen here at the launch of WPT National Cambodia, is on a mission to make the poker world a more welcoming place for women players. (Image: Flickr/WPT)

The World Poker Tour’s Vice President of Global Tour Management is spearheading a new initiative to bring more women to the game. The Women’s Poker Summit will be held in conjunction with the WPT Los Angeles Event on Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Bicycle Hotel & Casino.

It will be a chance for women — and men — to gather in an informal setting and lay out new ideas and a fresh plan of attack make poker a more attractive place for females, who represent a disproportionate minority in poker. Women players made up just four percent of the fields at this year’s World Series of Poker.

Unbalanced Tables

There’s no question poker is a male-dominated arena, and Hael, a 2018 nominee for the Women in Poker Hall of Fame, wants to change that. 

“We will be looking to identify areas of improvement for how we can both attract more women to the beautiful game of poker and keep them playing for years and years to come,” Hael said in a statement.

Hael insists that it’s crucial to have men involved in the summit. She points out that their input is central to any potential long term change. After all, men make up half the world’s population and the vast majority of the poker-playing populace.

The summit will feature members of the poker media, casino partners, and executives from industries outside of poker. One will be WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. His is a highly respected voice, and his views are sure to carry some weight.

Leaving the Locker Room Behind

In a recent blog post, Savage expressed regret over not doing more to encourage female players during his time as tournament director for the WSOP. 

“I should have pushed harder to have more ladies tournaments in the venues that I’ve worked at over the years,” Savage said, “and I vow to push harder going forward.”

Savage says he’s seen dozens of incidents that border on bullying and abuse at the poker table. He adamant that if they’re going to make the game more attractive to women in the long run, the locker room mentality that he’s witnessed over the years has to go.

That type of toxic environment that was laid out in great detail in the book “Black Widow Poker.” In it, a female poker player disguises herself as a man and documents the differences in how men acted towards her.  

Her experience was that she was not only treated with more respect when people thought she was a man, but she insists that people played a different poker game against her as well.

Unfortunately, they are stories that most poker-playing women can relate to all too well, and it’s something the upcoming summit is optimistic it can address.

10 Responses to “Inauguaral Women’s Poker Summit to Address Gender Inequality, Toxic Table Behavior”

  1. ATruRube says:

    This inequality at the poker table isn’t new or unique to poker. What may be somewhat unique, for example, is the level of mean spirited behavior or downright anger when a good sized pot is lost to a woman-particularly by a guy who has little respect for women in general and particularly when alcohol is involved. The me too movement has shown a light on the sexual side of this behavior, however, as a woman -who worked in typical “male” driven business for a long time, the struggle for equality in pay, benefits and promotion was daily and grueling. As evident by the median annual pay for full time yearly women workers in 2018- as percentage- is at 78%.

  2. omixxx10 says:

    I would like to see more women playing poker in my day to day .. suddenly cause an effect on me, magically I become a nice person and good vibes lol .. honestly my mood improves a lot when i see a woman sitting at the table.

  3. darthdimsky says:

    There’s a good reason why poker isn’t illegal in many countries. With stuff like money laundering and sexism attached to it it’s only making it more difficult for it be respected. I hope Ms Hael’s efforts initiate a sweeping change to these attitudes. We need a more level playing field and that will only help the growth of poker worldwide.

  4. rufus puckett says:

    no problems playing with women but its a competitive games …people cuss, emotion can be high….

    equal means equal

    do not sissify the poker room….

    already killed smoking

    • Kl says:

      That’s because smoking provides a toxic environment, much like misogynistic attitudes.

      I have never heard a man tell another guy at the poker table that he’s ugly, or has wrinkles or other BS like we have heard..

      The environment can be nasty, but, I have 7 brothers, so I think I have an advantage over some women.. But it still doesn’t make the nastiness ok

  5. 22meandu says:

    I have watched TV poker alot and women use feminine wiles to their great advantage . Is this a form of mental abuse , sexisim or harassment . Will the powers that be outlaw short skirts and cleavage . Of cause not , that would be seen as sexist . I HATE what woman do to a male dominated arena . Humour dies as the best jokes are smutty and any aggression is taken as a attack . Let them play with each other , i dont mind watching that . Opps , hope thats not misinterpreted. AS IF .

  6. timberwolf94 says:

    I don’t know if I would call it sissyfing but I do agree with you Rufus. I don’t mind seeing women at the tables when I go to the casino. I love seeing more women at the main event. But also remember that people get upset when bad beats happen so don’t get crazy when you hear some bad words.

  7. VerSuKa says:

    of course, poker is a game that requires a heavy mental load, and the fact that it is played by women and show the game of a real professional, suggests that they are not slightly worse than men ( speaking of sexism 🙂 )

  8. PsychoVas says:

    I play only online, so sexism or gender is not really an issue. I mean that most of the times I do not know who stands behind a nickname. The ladies I know that they are, I tend to respect slightly more than the guys that I know that they are, as they seem more tight and cool-headed, as women tend to be more practical in our society. Multi-tasking seems to come natural to women, as for millenia they had to do everything except the hunting/providing the man had to. In the last years, a lot of women do the providing too with little if any help from the men in all other aspects of everyday life. That resulted in men feeling intimidated or even threatened by the “weak” sex, ergo the out of time neo-machismo (forgive the barbarism).
    I salute any initiative in the direction of ending any and all inequalities.

  9. Misely31 says:

    There are many women who do not play poker and could be very good at it, but they are too shy to try. They should show the most interesting poker for women, not concentrate so much on the prizes and the winners but on spending a fun time, it is supposed that the wonderful thing that poker has is that it allows you to play against people from all over the world and from all ages, regardless of gender because what is put at stake is the mental ability, strategy and with a little luck win “the best.” The monetary part of money does not attract women as much as the social aspect, if so that poker would show another image of a friendly home game, then they would be more interested in poker.

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