Women’s Poker Group Embarks on New Mission to Reach Younger Players

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The Poker League of Nations, the world’s largest poker organization dedicated to women, is on a mission to attract younger players to the game through its new PLON Rising initiative targeted at women between the ages of 18-29.

women in poker
Maria Ho (top right) is among the guest instructors for PLON Rising, joined by Amanda Botfelt (top left), Nahrain Tamero (bottom left), Maria Konnikova (bottom left-center), Barbara Enright (bottom right-center), and Lexy Gavin (bottom right). (Image: Poker League of Nations)

“We need to keep growing the field of women beyond 5%,” PLON founder Lena Evans told CardsChat News, referring to a gender disparity that hasn’t changed in the male-dominated game over the years. She believes the only way this can be achieved is by reaching the younger female population.

If you look around just about any card room, pretty much anywhere in the world, you’ll notice the room is filled by men, unless the casino is hosting a ladies’ event. At the World Series of Poker Main Event, women represent only about 4% of the 7,000 or so players who enter.

That’s certainly a problem for the growth of the game. More women in poker means more people playing poker, and the more people playing poker leads to larger events, bigger card rooms, more card rooms, and increased mainstream media attention for the game. Evans believes she has a solution to this problem.

Cracking the felt ceiling

PLON Rising is a new plan to reach — and teach — young women how to play poker, with hopes that will lead to higher participation in the game. To assist in that effort, PLON has recruited some top-quality guest teachers, including Maria Ho, Lexy Gavin, author and PokerStars ambassador Maria Konnikova, and Poker Hall of Famer and PLON ambassador Barbara Enright, the only woman to have ever reached the WSOP Main Event final table.

Former CardsChat strategy columnist Amanda Botfeld will serve as a PLON Rising Ambassador. An author who wrote  “A Girl’s Guide to Poker,” Botfeld is also teaching a course on poker at Santa Monica City College in July.

Botfeld explains how learning poker at age 24 really helped her find a voice in the world at a time when she was entering the workforce and struggling to be taken seriously.

“That’s why I fell in love with poker at that time,” Botfeld said. “My chips could do the talking. The game gave me the arena to exercise my confidence, and there’s nothing like placing a big bet to make you feel important. That is why I believe all young women especially should learn poker — they might not even know their own strength.”

Growth through education

Evans believes her group is best suited to tackle the issue of attracting more women to poker, and, like Botfeld, believes success starts with educating young women about the game.

Nahrain Malan Tamero will also help instruct the young prospective female poker players. She was the only woman to win a WSOP.com online bracelet last summer, and is an example of the growth in skills that PLON Rising believes it can foster. “I am very excited to help young women strengthen their skills and share tips that might advance them to the next level in their poker career,” Tamero said.

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