2022 WSOP Featured Females: Lara Eisenberg Talks Poker's Impact on Dementia
For our newest edition of 2022 WSOP Featured Females, we interviewed bracelet winner Lara Eisenberg, a radiologist who shared some insight into poker's effect on the brain long-term and if Daniel Negreanu was correct when he insinuated that women aren't wired to be interested in poker.
Eisenberg is currently quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19 during the World Series of Poker. The Maryland native will head back out east as soon as she's cleared to return to civilization. Her case, thankfully, was mild.
PokerNews spoke with the medical professional by phone to discuss her poker career, and also pick her brain on what poker actually does to our brains.
Winning a WSOP Bracelet
In 2021, Eisenberg won her first WSOP bracelet in the $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold'em Championship for $115,694, beating out 644 players. She defeated Debora Brooke heads-up to finish off the tournament.
The champ's life didn't drastically change financially — she already has a high-paying gig — but, as she explained, it opened some doors that may have otherwise not been available.
“It’s great to have the recognition to have won an event," Eisenberg told PokerNews.
She's currently writing a chapter for an upcoming book from Poker League of Nations founder Lena Evans, "Poker for Life." Her contribution to the book will be content on the brain's impact on poker.
Evans told PokerNews that Eisenberg is a "great ambassador for women in poker." She began playing poker in the early 2000s and got into the game like so many others.
"I was watching the early nightly news and a commercial for PokerStars came on," she said about how she discovered poker.
Is Poker Good for the Brain?
Eisenberg, whose poker week in Las Vegas was cut short due to COVID-19, doesn't play poker for a living. That is partially due to having a successful career as a radiologist back home in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Perhaps, you're familiar with that city. It's the hometown of legendary comedian Dave Chappelle, and also long-time WSOP announcer Norman Chad. That's probably the first and only time Chad has been mentioned in the same breath as Chappelle.
Eisenberg works seven days straight and then is off for seven days, so she has a dream schedule. During her time off, one activity she spends time on is research. More specifically, studying how poker and other games of skill impact the brain. She said there's more use for poker than just a means for making money and having a good time.
“Evidence is showing that the more complexly your brain is wired, it makes it more likely that if you do develop dementia, it will develop more slowly," Eisenberg says.
Dementia is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. Those who suffer from dementia, mostly elderly folks, often have sudden losses of memory.
“Chess, poker, bridge, any game that has high-level strategy is going to be good (for brain health)," Eisenberg continued.
The 2021 bracelet winner believes that the more time people spend doing tasks that make them think and learn, the better off they'll be mentally. Sitting around watching TV all day, she says, isn't productive for brain health.
“Poker, to me, is almost a perfect game to help you self-actualize. Everything you do in poker helps you in life," Eisenberg said.
She also encourages people to focus on other aspects such as meditation, eating a healthy diet, and getting plenty of exercise.
Do Women Love Poker?
It's no secret to anyone who has spent more than five minutes in a poker room that men dominate the game in terms of participation. In tournaments such as the WSOP Main Event, females represent only about 5% of the field each year.
Negreanu suggested that perhaps women just aren't wired to love poker the same way as men. We asked Eisenberg her thoughts on that argument, and she didn't completely disagree.
“It would be wrong to say it’s impossible (for more women to play poker), however, I think that the way women are socialized is a large part of it," the poker champ argues.
She said that women carrying and then taking care of their babies makes it difficult for them to get into poker. Additionally, the wage gap in the US — men make more than women, on average — leaves less disposable income for women to play poker.
But she isn't convinced that it's impossible to attract more women to the game.
“Poker didn’t come up in my world, poker comes up in guy’s world," Eisenberg explains of her upbringing. "A small number of women grow up in households where poker is a regular past time. And, in general, young women don't tend to play poker when they get together as often as young men do. So, the exposure element is a factor."
Eisenberg believes that if more states would legalize online poker, it would give more females an opportunity to play since they wouldn't have to leave the house to get in a game, a convenience for stay-at-home moms.
“The thing that would make the biggest impact would be impossible for an outside organization to do and that’s to introduce poker to girls at a young age," she said.
The Maryland native began playing poker in the early 2000s in Atlantic City. She's exclusively a no-limit hold'em player, mostly tournaments. Eisenberg credits organizations such as the Poker League of Nations, the world's largest women's poker group, for putting effort into giving women an opportunity to play poker and said it does help.
Eisenberg is done playing poker on her current trip due to a positive COVID-19 test. But she plans to come back to Las Vegas later this month to defend her Ladies Event title.
Bookmark this page! All you need to know about the 2022 WSOP is here.
In this Series
- 1 Officials Offer First Look at 2022 WSOP; Answer Several Lingering Questions
- 2 Bally's & Paris: Your Guide to the New Home of the World Series of Poker (WSOP)
- 3 Negreanu, Deeb (as Expected) Highest Bids in $25k WSOP Fantasy Draft
- 4 WSOP Transportation Guide: Riding the Las Vegas Strip Monorail
- 5 Let the Games Begin: 2022 WSOP is Officially Underway
- 6 Phil Hellmuth Misses 2022 WSOP Opener After Bout of Traveler's Diarrhea
- 7 Kenney, Schindler & Imsirovic Arrive at 2022 WSOP Despite Recent Cheating Allegations
- 8 Phil Ivey is Back! Poker G.O.A.T. Cashes First 2022 WSOP Event
- 9 Baltimore Raven Calais Campbell at WSOP: "We Have Super Bowl Potential"
- 10 2022 WSOP Featured Females: Katie Kopp Becomes Bally's First-Ever Bracelet Winner
- 11 WSOP Player of the Year Race One Week In: Defending Champ Arieh Off and Running
- 12 ClubGG Offers Bubble Protection For Eight 2022 WSOP Events
- 13 Doyle Brunson Skipping 2022 WSOP Due to COVID-19 Concerns
- 14 Retired NBA Star Paul Pierce Allegedly Won't Pay His Poker Debts
- 15 Scott Seiver Pays $43k to Enter $1k WSOP Event, Fails to Cash
- 16 2022 WSOP Featured Females: Lara Eisenberg Talks Poker's Impact on Dementia
- 17 2022 WSOP Hands of the Week: Depaulo vs. Hellmuth, a Pure One Outer & a Royal Flush
- 18 Reigning World Champ Koray Aldemir Quietly Crushing it at 2022 WSOP
- 19 2022 WSOP Player of the Week 2: Jeremy Ausmus Wins Third Bracelet in 9 Months
- 20 Hellmuth Controversy at WSOP: Poker Brat's Chips Swiped on Break
- 21 Security Mistakenly Tries to Kick Out Neymar Jr. After He Cashes First WSOP Event
- 22 Breaking News: Phil Ivey Closing in on Elusive 11th WSOP Bracelet Tonight
- 23 Doyle Brunson Becomes a WPT Ambassador, Might Play WSOP Main Event
- 24 World Series of Daniel's? Zack, Weinman (But Not Negreanu) Lead POY Race
- 25 WSOP $250,000 Super High Roller Kicks Off; Ivey, Negreanu and Kenney All Enter
- 26 Ali Imsirovic Busts WSOP $250K Super High Roller on Brutal Cooler
- 27 Cruising in the $250k, Is 2022 One of Phil Ivey's Best WSOP's Ever?
- 28 Runner-Runner Bad Beat Tilts Negreanu; Poker Star Out of WSOP $250k
- 29 Navy Vet Reps Military Charity During WSOP Salute to Warriors Event
- 30 2022 WSOP Featured Females: Meet Wendeen Eolis, 1st Woman to Ever Cash Main Event
- 31 Dan Zack Still Leads WSOP POY Race; Ivey, Deeb within Striking Distance
- 32 888poker Pro Ian Simpson Gears Up for 2022 WSOP Main Event
- 33 Poker Players Who Have Defended Their WSOP Bracelet
- 34 How to Make Day 2 of the Million Dollar Bounty
- 35 Poker Player Wins WSOP Main Event Satty in His Sleep...Literally
- 36 Josh Arieh Flushed Out of WSOP Main Event Early; Four Past Champs in Day 1a
- 37 2022 WSOP Hands of the Week: Yuvee Loses $50K to Pair of Deuces; Ivey Hits Ace from Space
- 38 BREAKING: Phil Hellmuth at 2022 WSOP $3,000 NLH Final Table, Chasing 17th Bracelet
- 39 Will the 2022 WSOP Main Event Smash the Attendance Record?
- 40 Barstool Sports' Cracking Aces Podcast Hosts Crush it on Main Event Day 1
- 41 WSOP Main Event Railbird Pays Back Daniel Negreanu Four-Year "Debt"
- 42 Matt Glantz Finds the $1 Million WSOP Bounty
- 43 BREAKING: WSOP Main Event Day 2 Schedule Altered
- 44 Aces Bust Kings 15 Minutes into Day 1b of WSOP Main Event
- 45 The Muck: Ike Haxton Takes on Barstool Sports' Poker Invasion
- 46 2022 WSOP Player of the Week 5: Jessica Teusl Wins First Bracelet at First WSOP
- 47 2022 WSOP Main Event Draws Massive Field, Almost Breaks All-Time Record
- 48 Phil Hellmuth's World Series of Poker Entrance Met w/ a Chorus of Boos
- 49 Robert Lipkin is the 2022 WSOP Main Event Bubble
- 50 SO SICK! Kings vs. Kings Cooler Busts 888poker's Sam Abernathy from the WSOP Main Event
- 51 Koray Aldemir: Back-to-Back WSOP Main Event Runs "A Privilege"
- 52 Brutal River! Aces, Queens, & Jacks All In Preflop in WSOP Main Event
- 53 Former World Champ Tom McEvoy Shares his Poker Samadhi Wisdom
- 54 Did Alejandro Lococo Pull Off Best WSOP Main Event Bluff Since Moneymaker?
- 55 The Muck: Did Mike Matusow Really Have a Blow Up in the WSOP Main Event?
- 56 Dan Zack Claims 2022 WSOP Player of the Year Honors
- 57 How Much Money Players at 2022 WSOP Main Event Final Table Really Made
- 58 Espen Jorstad Wins 2022 World Series of Poker Main Event for $10,000,000
- 59 Las Vegas Active Shooter Rumors Spark Panic; WSOP Impacted, Negreanu Injured
- 60 Quads Dooms Asher Conniff at WSOP Main Event Final Table
- 61 Aces Cracked! Souki Busts from WSOP Main Event Final Table
- 62 Espen Jorstad Holds Commanding Lead in Pursuit of WSOP Main Event Title
- 63 Not Su's Day: From Chip Leader to Out in 9th Place
- 64 A Look at All the 2022 WSOP Online Michigan Bracelet Winners
- 65 Five Memorable Hands from the 2021 WSOP Main Event Final Table
- 66 Where Are They Now: Ron “The Carolina Express” Stanley Battled Stu Ungar at 1997 WSOP
- 67 WATCH: One of the Best Folds in WSOP Main Event History?
- 68 Adrian Attenborough Just Made Two of the Gutsiest Plays of the 2022 WSOP
- 69 Can Karim Rebei Click his Way to a WSOP Main Event Title?
- 70 Cool, Calm & Collected Efthymia Litsou is WSOP Main Event's Last Woman Standing
- 71 2022 WSOP Hands of the Week: Quads, Quads, Quads, Quads!
- 72 Brutal River! Aces, Queens, & Jacks All In Preflop in WSOP Main Event
- 73 Daniel Negreanu Wraps 2022 World Series of Poker Down $1.1 Million
- 74 How the 2022 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Will Be Remembered
- 75 PN Podcast: 2022 WSOP Main Event Final Thoughts; Interviews w/ Main Event Final Three