A recent study showed that approximately 50% of the players in the online poker world are female. The number of women coming to the brick and mortar casino poker rooms seems to be on the increase as well. Whereas a few years ago you could count popular and successful female players on one hand, now there are at least twenty five that are a serious threat to win any poker tournament around (or take over a cash game table, for that matter). So what is it that makes women successful in what was once considered a "man's game"? A new book attempts to answer that question.
"Women's Poker Night", published by Kensington Press and available now in all bookstores and online for $15.95 ($20.95 Canadian) is a book expertly put together by the publisher of Woman Poker Player Magazine, Maryann Morrison. By bringing together the best of the women players in the game (Barbara Enright and Cyndy Violette), the best poker writers around (Amy Calistri, Jennifer Leo and Kathleen Watterson) and some newcomers that provide excellent insight (Jo Ransom and Dawn Dineen), Morrison has provided a compilation that ably demonstrates why women are coming to the world of poker and also shows how they have become so successful at it. The book also demonstrates that women will continue to be a force in the game and that some of the more close-minded men in the poker world better get used to it.
It may sound strange for a male to state that he drew some interesting information from a book written by women (and, in truth, for women as well), but there were tidbits of information that any poker player could pull from the pages of "Women's Poker Night". It seemed every contributor to the book was able to cast at least one excellent piece of poker information into the pool, whether it was in controlling emotion at the tables, learning the skills of maintaining a bankroll, or combating highly aggressive opponents (among other things). The writers also looked at overcoming obstacles either at the tables, because of the game of poker or in dealing with life, which is something that every player has to deal with at one point or another.
One point that I found interesting was that, even in this day and age of a supposedly "enlightened" world, women still face a tremendous uphill fight in gaining respect at the tables. Barbara Enright talks about her "early years" in the poker community and relates that, at many points, she was the only female around and heard about it from her male opponents. Fast forward roughly 25 years later and the same fate seems to fall at the feet of Michele Lewis, who cashed in three events at last year's World Series of Poker and finished fourth in one of those efforts. She details out how she was excluded from home cash games based solely on the fact that she wasn't male. I was quite surprised that this bias still exists and perhaps it is something we can eliminate (although I am sure that may still take some time).
There were two sections of the book that I found to be excellent. Barbara Connors contributes quite an analysis of why the differences at the poker table exist between men and women and offers tremendous suggestions for women to adapt their styles to combat those differences and lead to success at the tables. Maryann Morrison herself tells her tale of how she came to the game (which is a running theme of many of the stories of the book) and how the skills that she learned from poker have enriched her life and profession. Both of these chapters are well worth the read, even if it is to how to combat the ladies at the tables!
"Women's Poker Night" is a book definitely aimed at women, but anyone who reads it will come away with some fruit for their efforts. Morrison and the rest of the contributors to the book must be commended for their conglomerated work and having provided such a thought provoking and, yes, even poker style changing effort. If you have a female partner who is a part of the poker world, she will definitely enjoy "Women's Poker Night" and it would be well worth the time for the male gender to give it a read as well…after all, poker isn't just a "man's game" anymore.