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Friday, June 8, 2007

Women know it's not just a man's game

Women know it's not just a man's game

Women are the largest growing demographic, poker industry officials say. Drawn by poker in cyberspace and on television, a growing number of women are clashing with the opposite sex on the poker felt. There's even a bimonthly magazine -Woman Poker Player.

Last year, the World Championship Ladies Event at the WSOP drew 1,128 players - up from 601 in 2005.

As Cyndy Violette says, poker is no longer a man's game.

"When I first started, almost all the time I was the only woman playing at the table," said Violette, who won a 2004 seven-stud high-low split tournament for her WSOP bracelet. "Now it could very easily be three women at the table. Poker has nothing to do with being male or female."

Women add respectability

Along with Violette, the women at this year's WSOP will include some of the game's best rounders: Annie Duke, Jennifer Harman, Kathy Liebert, Clonie Gowen, Barbara Enright, Susie Isaacs, Jennifer Tilly, Evelyn Ng, Liz Lieu and Mimi Tran.

"When I started playing, you could count the women not even on one hand. Now there are 25-30 women out there who are a force," said Howard "The Professor" Lederer, a two-time WSOP bracelet winner and Duke's older brother.

"There were tremendous barriers when I started playing in the mid-'80s. Back then, you had to be tough. If you weren't tough, there would be guys in cowboy hats, chomping cigars and drinking whiskey who would go, 'Oh, you want to sit down. Then get me a drink first.' Now that's not the case. It certainly has come a long way."

Along the way, poker icon Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson says poker became a better game because of a woman's touch.

"When I started playing, the one thing we craved more than anything was respectability," Brunson said. "Back then, people thought you were some kind of gangster if you were a poker pro. When women started playing, it got more socially acceptable. Poker became a lot more respected when women started getting involved."


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