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Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Woman in a Man's World?

Article published in the 2nd issue of Woman's Poker Player Magazine.

A Woman in a Man’s World??

It took me a full year to get up the courage to sit down at a “real” poker table. One FULL year to feel confident enough that the “men” sitting at the table wouldn’t glare at me upon arrival, or even if they did, I’d be OK with it. I was convinced that since I was “just” a young female, I would be ostracized, ignored, and just treated poorly.

I couldn’t have been further from the truth, as they welcomed me with open arms. Of course they did, I was “fresh meat”, a “fish”! Knowing now what I didn’t know then, I totally understand what all their smiles and friendly welcomes were for. New blood, and not just new blood to their game, but new blood to the game, period.

Sure, I lost my buy in, and even dug out more cash from the purse too. However, I had a great time, and if that’s what the cost of entertainment was going to be for me that night, then so be it.

Looking back four years later, I am astounded by the number of women who have finally done what it took me so long to do, which was belly up to the table. I remember quite vividly being the only female at a table, or even being the only female in a tournament! So I wonder, were these women that are out there playing poker now brought into the poker world due to the poker frenzy?

You know what I mean, the players (male OR female) who started playing because of watching poker on TV on Wednesday nights. The players who started playing online because of the fame that Chris Moneymaker achieved, and “Hey, it must be easy! I’m going to play!”

Or are these women who have been playing poker for years, long before the onslaught of poker in the mainstream media (like me), but just never had the courage to actually step up to the plate?

I decided it doesn’t matter. Although I used to be very surprised when I would sit down at my assigned table in a tournament and see another woman there, it’s becoming so common now, that I’m actually starting to become surprised if there isn’t another woman at my table, or even two!

Thanks to online forums and groups such as The Women’s Poker Club, the word is getting out that we, as females, can play poker and that we should not be intimidated anymore by the “big, bad men” out there in the poker world.

Now, even after having said all that, it’s been said many times and by many well known players and commentators that a woman will never win the Main Event at the WSOP.

Guess what? Although I won’t agree with the word “never”, I do agree that it will still be many, many years before a woman will win. Why is that, you ask? Sheer numbers. We simply don’t have the numbers yet in live tournaments, especially the Main Event, to overcome the statistical odds of placing first. With an expected 6000 entrants, and 600 alternates in this year’s WSOP Main Event, the women in the field will only take up about 5% of that number. That’s only 330 women! Now, I think the number might actually be higher due to the number of people, including women, that will be qualifying for the Main Event through online poker sites, but we still have to realize that the number of women in this event will be no where close to what it needs to be in order for a woman to “statistically” have a chance to win.

Of course, even after having said that, I still plan on winning the Main Event this year!

Yes, Ladies, yours truly will be at the WSOP this year, and not just for the Main Event, or for the Ladies Tournament being held on June 26th. Oh no, I have to do it BIG this year, and I will be in Vegas for every weekend, from Thursday to Monday, coming home only to check in with the family and with the business. I will be there for approximately four of the six weeks, and I plan on having some wonderful stories to tell upon my return.

I have decided to take the WSOP by storm this year and hope to play in at least 12 events of the 38 scheduled, including the Main Event. By the time you read this, the WSOP will be well under way, if not concluded, and I will be one step closer to realizing my dream of becoming a professional tournament poker player.

“Persistancy Wears Down Resistancy”

Notice I didn’t say “professional poker player”, but rather a tournament player, as there is such a huge difference in playing tournaments vs. playing cash games. I believe my love for tournament poker started towards the end of my first year of playing. I only played 7 card stud at the time, and the limits were usually $1-$5, but I was always losing. I was a horrible player, as I had come into the game after I received a CD-ROM game that my mother had given me that only offered 7 card stud. Of course, back in those days, Texas Hold ‘Em didn’t have the appeal that it does now.

I was a little bit more strapped for poker funds back then, and noticed right away that my $40 used to enter a tournament lasted a lot longer then it did at the $1-$5 7 card stud table. I could actually play for almost an hour instead of just 15-20 minutes. So I did what any smart, winning poker player has done. I studied.

I watched tape after tape of past WSOP events, I read book after book on poker. Every single book that my local library had regarding poker, I read. Some of them I read twice, or even three times! Then something remarkable happened, I started winning. I became a winning poker player due to the knowledge that I gained, the knowledge that I opened myself up to. I can still very distinctly remember the night that the light bulb went off in my head in regards to No Limit Hold ‘Em. I had only played Limit Tournaments up to that point, because No Limit SCARED me.

Now, remember, the whole reason why I started playing tournaments was to help make my money last longer, so that I could play longer. The idea of being able to lose in the first 5 minutes of a tournament, do to it being No Limit, scared me to death! Therefore, I was what’s known as “scared money”. So, I stayed away, far away from No Limit.
Until that one fateful night.

I was playing in an online tournament and I had raised a hand simply trying to steal the blinds, there was one other player in the hand with me, the big blind, and he re-raised me. I don’t know what it was, or what made me do it, but my little finger clicked on that mouse button over the button marked “Raise” so quickly, my head spun. He folded, and the bells and whistles went off in my head. I get it! I understand now! All the things I have been reading in books finally made sense, it was the aggressiveness of No Limit Hold ‘Em that I learned to embrace and love. What hand did I have, you ask? 3, 8 offsuit, a pure bluff, I had nothing, yet I re-raised a re-raise and WON! Ah ha! So that’s how it’s done! From that point on, I haven’t looked back and haven’t been “scared money” since.

I finally realized that I will lose tournaments in the first five minutes. I will also play tournaments for four hours straight, only to lose one spot away from the prize money. That’s just the risk of playing tournaments, and it’s a risk that I have to accept, or I will go mentally insane. No poker player, professional or not, can win every single tournament they enter. Sure, they can cash often, and even win a few in a row, but they can never, ever win every single tournament entered.

So, ladies, if you take anything from this at all, I hope that you take the knowledge that although you can be a winning poker player, and a winning tournament poker player, you simply can’t win them all. However, with persistence, you can reach your dreams and achieve your goals. Whether they include winning a tournament online that has more then 15 players, or one that has more then 6000, you have to be persistent. Take the heartbreak losses with a grain of salt, and celebrate the wins with a sense of pride.

Women are here in the poker world, and from what I can see; we’re not going anywhere.

Tanya Peck

Tanya Peck can be found online at many different sites playing by the name of MissT74. Tanya is a local to Laughlin, Nevada and frequents Las Vegas for all major tournament events. Tanya can be reached at


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