Poker used to be the domain of the male player. From the beginning of the game, there have been very few successful women players. The Women's Poker Club is looking to change that!
Formed to provide the excitement and company of the game to the female player, the Club is conducting their spring Women's Poker Club Showdown this April 14th through the 16th at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ. Four tournaments (No-Limit and Limit Texas Holdem, Omaha Holdem and Seven Card Stud) will be featured, as well as several seminars and classes on poker. Don't expect a gentle gathering of ladies sipping tea; many female professionals have battled alongside their poker playing sisters, making for a competitive atmosphere with plenty of aggressive action along the way.
I had the opportunity to speak with Maryann Morrison, the director of the Women's Poker Club, and she gave us the lowdown on the Club's last gathering in Las Vegas and what to look for in Atlantic City.
PN: What is the basic goal of the Women's Poker Club and how long has it been in existence?
MM: The Women's Poker Club was established in December 2003 to encourage more women to enter the poker playing field by giving them a congenial and comfortable environment to practice and improve their skills with other women poker players. This enables them to feel at ease playing in any environment with any player and is good for the poker industry in general, as it means more players at the tables and larger prize pools.
PN: You are not just focusing on Texas Hold 'Em, either. The tournament also has Omaha and Seven Card tournaments. Is it important for women to be able to play more than one game?
MM: We offer mainly No Limit Hold 'Em tournaments to the members when we play online. The choice of games we play are guided by the members' preferences. We also have peer mentoring in the club, so if a member wants to learn the basics of Omaha Hi/Lo, for example, one of the senior members will mentor her game on a one-to-one basis online.
During the WPC Showdown, which is also like an extended "girls night out," we like to have the opportunity for women to participate in their favorite game, and play in more than one tournament during their trip.
PN: The classes seem to be an important part of the tournament weekend. Describe what goes on during the seminars that are held?
MM: The Women's Poker Club offers a play chip league called "Fresh Poker Faces", where senior members of the WPC give tips on playing to the women in the league at the games. There is a no muck rule, so that others can see around the table the types of hands people are calling in with. Learning to bluff, though, is encouraged. You must have six months or less experience in playing poker to be eligible for the league. This is a fairly new component of the WPC and it is working out very well. Some of the graduates from our first "Fresh Poker Faces" league are out there at many final tables (smiles).
During the WPC Showdown, we also offer poker lessons. This is all about encouraging women to participate in tournaments and serves as a primer before they play. Not all women will participate in the lessons, but for those who want them, they are available to help boost their confidence during the main events. It is also offered so that local women who are interested in poker can be present just to partake in the lessons.
PN: What was attendance like at the Binion's Tournament in September 2004?
MM: We had about eighty players at the event overall. We anticipate that this year's event will double that amount.
PN: I noticed that World Series of Poker champion and legend Barbara Enright played, and won, the Seven Card Stud Event at Binion's. Is she a big supporter of the group?
MM: Barbara Enright is a wonderful woman and well as one of the greatest women poker players of all time. She is a member of the Women's Poker Club, is very supportive of our efforts, and the members were thrilled to meet and play with her.
PN: Other than Ms. Enright, have other professional female players been involved?
MM: Yes, our membership includes Rose Richie, who was the top-ranking woman player in the 2004 World Series of Poker, and Cat Hulbert, who is well known as one of the best stud players around. We also hold online seminars with professional women players and have them planned over this year to include Linda Johnson, Rose Richie, Susie Isaacs, Cyndy Violette, Barbara Enright, and Kathy Liebert.
PN: I noticed that female players can qualify to play in the events online. Which site is running satellites and how has the competition been in the satellite tournaments?
MM: There are satellite events for the upcoming WPC Showdown in Atlantic City, being held at PokerHost.com. For as little as $5, any woman can play to win their way to the WPC Showdown, including accommodations, airfare and entry into the main event. I tell people all the time that all women's tournaments can be much more competitive than mixed events I have played in. The plus side of this is it does help you to improve your skill, and it is always a pleasant experience to meet other women who share your love of poker.
PN: What other tournaments are coming in 2005?
MM: We will be hosting our Fall WPC Showdown in Las Vegas in September; the dates and venue haven't been determined yet. Online, we have a women's only tournament each week. As our membership includes women all over the world, this allows them to participate in women's tournaments no matter where they live.
PN: Where can players get more information regarding the tournaments or the organization?
MM: The Women's Poker Club can be accessed through www.womenspokerclub.com. Links on the front page menu will guide them to the WPC Showdown and the Fresh Poker Faces League.
PN: Can women be more of a force in the poker world? Is the Women's Poker Club looking for the next Jennifer Harman or Annie Duke?
MM: I see this as currently happening. More women are playing poker competitively now than ever before, and this is good for everyone. All the women's tournaments, and certainly the growth of the membership in our club, can attest to this. Poker is not just a man's game. It is a sport where anyone can be involved and excel at. Since the WPC's introduction, we have had a few of the members decide to play poker professionally. Definitely, I do expect to see them at many final tables in the near future.
PN: Thank you for your time, Maryann.
MM: Thank you!
I want to thank Maryann for taking the time to speak with us and encourage the female readers (or men, to see who may be your next big threat) to go to www.womenspokerclub.com to learn more about the organization. Don't forget, the spring Women's Poker Club Showdown is coming April 14th through the 16th in Atlantic City, NJ. For more information on that, go to www.wpcshowdown.com. To get in on the satellite action and earn your way to the WPC Showdown, go to www.pokerhost.com.