It’s common knowledge that women are underrepresented in poker. Using the World Series of Poker Main Event field as a measure, it may surprise some to know that the numbers are actually getting worse. Between 2013 and 2017, data shows female participation hovering around 5 percent. But since then, the percentage of women entering the Main has ticked down into the 4% range.
Daniel Negreanu recently tweeted on the lack of progress, noting little has changed in the past quarter-century of poker.
26 consecutive years as a pro poker player hearing the same “getting women into poker is an untapped market” discussion.
Tapping efforts have yet to increase participation past roughly 5% of fields.
It was the same in 96’ as it is today.
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) May 7, 2022
In an effort to reverse course, Poker League of Nations (PLON), the largest online women’s poker community, is hosting a freeroll Sunday on PokerStars to help more women play in the WSOP.
The event is open to women in all states except New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Delaware, and will be giving away seats and lammers donated by pros and philanthropists. To enter, women just need to join PLON’s private Facebook group.
“We are committed to increasing women’s representation in poker and that starts with providing the opportunity,” PLON founder (and two-time WSOPC ring-winner) Lena Evans said. “Collaborations are pivotal for bridging the gap and getting more women into the game.”
Poker icons donating funds so far include Maria Ho, Kristen Bicknell Foxen, Chris Moneymaker, and Phil Hellmuth. PLON is still accepting donations and tournament hosts will distribute the prize pool in the form of $1K seats, and if enough money is raised by game time could include a $10K Main Event seat.
Women helping women
“Anything that lowers the barrier for women to participate in major poker events — with the financial barrier being one of the hardest ones to overcome — will bring more women into poker and have a lasting positive impact on the game,” said tech entrepreneur and philanthropist Victoria Livschitz, who donated to the PLON freeroll prize pool.
Last year’s WSOP Ladies Event winner Lara Eisenberg said she was motivated to contribute by the “snowball effect” she believes will happen after seeing more women succeed on the big stage.
Bicknell Foxen, a repeat winner of the Global Poker Index’s Female Poker Player of the Year, is also offering lessons as a prize. She emphasized the importance of earning the entries.
“I hope that giving women an opportunity to win their way in rather than just being given seats will instill confidence that will prepare them for the big event,” Bicknell Foxen said.
This event is part of a series of satellite and freeroll opportunities being organized by Poker League of Nations.
Additional opportunities, live and online
Last weekend, PokerGO sponsored three $1,000 WSOP tournament entries for PLON members, as part of an ongoing partnership. Two weeks prior PLON hosted a satellite into the WSOP Ladies Event and more satellites are upcoming. A recently announced $55 online satellite (also on PokerStars) will run on Monday, offering $1,000 for any event for every 20 entries. PLON also has a live tournament league that sends women to the WSOP Main Event.
“As a whole for having more women in poker, we need to have more women [in these events],” said Julie Salsido, winner of this year’s PLON league Main Event seat as well as a $1K tournament buy-in. “When I started playing poker, the first question people would always ask is, ‘does your husband play?’”
Now she says such a question at best gets an eyeroll. “The women playing in this league know what they’re doing.”