International Women’s Day Feature: The Most Inspiring Ladies in Poker

5 min read

For International Women’s Day, we reached out to members of the Poker League of Nations, the world’s largest women’s poker organization, to find out who in poker most inspires them.

international womens day poker
Poker League of Nations member gather before an event at South Point in Las Vegas. (Image: PLON)

For this story, PLON founder Lena Evans sent an email to her members asking a simple yet important question: which female poker player most inspires you? She shared those answers with us at CardsChat News. The answer didn’t have to be related to her poker prowess. It could be for any reason why the poker player has been such an inspiration in any facet of life.

If you’ve spent any time in poker rooms around the world, you know the disparity in demographics between males and females. Men dominate the game in terms of quantity, but not quality. In the WSOP Main Event each year, the most prestigious tournament in the game, women represent only about 4 percent of the player field. Take a step into any packed Las Vegas poker room on any given day and you’ll notice a similar representation.

That’s why organizations such as PLON, the gold standard of women’s poker groups, and tournaments like the WSOP ladies event are so important to growing the game and attracting more women to poker. For International Women’s Day, we’re thrilled to feature some ladies who love this great game, and share their stories on who most inspires them.

They all come from different backgrounds, work in different industries all over the world, and got into poker for different reasons. What they all have in common is a love for poker, and it’s what brings them together.

Top Five All-Time Winningest Female Live Tournament Players (Per Hendon Mob)

  1. Vanessa Selbst (United States) $11,906,247
  2. Kathy Liebert (United States) $6,309,851
  3. Kristen Bicknell (Canada) $5,188,968
  4. Annie Duke (United States) $4,270,548
  5. Maria Ho (United States) $4,074,271

Who Inspires You?

Major Janie Maddox, a professor at Naval Postgraduate College, gathered up the courage to play poker in 2015 thanks to Della Jones. She began entering ladies events in Reno and Las Vegas, and found it quite challenging at first.

“Never having played live, I didn’t have a clue what I would be facing. I had only experienced online poker — where with a click, chip counts are done for you,” she said.

Jones, whom she refers to as her “guardian angel,” came along and guided her with her “patience, encouragement and kindness.”

Kitty Clark, a dental hygienist in Las Vegas and PLON ambassador, gave a shout out to Jacqueline Britton, who impressed her by running a smooth poker game when she first moved to Vegas. Clark also was impressed with Britton, a businesswoman and author, for her charitable work, delivering face masks during COVID-19.

Nicki Randolph, who produced the “Poker Queens” film on Amazon Prime, is inspired by Kathy Liebert, one of the greatest female poker players of all-time.

“I have seen her play many times and she has the quality of quiet patience, something I could certainly aspire to,” Randolph said of the poker legend. “We interviewed her for the “Poker Queens” movie and she has a passion for the game yet treats it as a business. She represents longevity and perseverance to me.”

Kara Bigos, a PLON ambassador and interior designer residing in Minnesota, gave the nod to the Poker League of Nations founder. She referred to Evans as having done “so much for so many of us organizing trainings, group discussions, games, always giving support and cheering us on.”

JoLene Krawczak, a recreational player from Oregon, echoed those sentiments. She is passionate about bringing more women to the game and said she owes that “change in attitude” to Evans.

Louise Charlton, a PLON ambassador from across the pond in the United Kingdom, is inspired by the great Maria Ho.

“She always comes across as calm, collected and professional,” Charlton praises Maria Ho. “She is interesting to listen to and her positive attitude is refreshing. Maria says that every single day you have a choice to be in a good mood, be happy, be nice and kind to other people. I love this and wish everyone thought like that.”

As for Evans, who resides in San Diego, she was inspired to create the Poker League of Nations “to have a place where women could connect with one another and share resources for travel and tournaments worldwide.”

“Also, as a vehicle to address the #1 issue that prevents more women from playing — that is to help build their bankroll by investing in them so they can play more and higher buy-in open events,” Evans continued. “In addition, to build confidence and improve skills, I wanted to provide the best education from the most admired and successful professionals in the world to help women become higher-level competitors.”


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