A new survey has revealed a lot of women still feel restricted when it comes to playing poker because of their gender. The results of the study, carried out by 888 Holdings, highlight the long-standing perception that poker is a male-dominated game. Moreover, a lot of women feel less inclined to be at the felt due to intimidation.
Survey Findings
888 Holdings carried out the survey to 2000 women in the UK, 44 percent of them have previously played poker. Of those who tried playing the game, a huge majority (81 percent) enjoyed it, though only16 percent of them play more frequently (at least once a week), while 34 percent play at least once a month.
An important takeaway from the survey is that a lot of women (68 percent) still feel poker is a game dominated by men. 42 percent reported that women players usually account for just between 1 – 10 percent of players at their table.
These figures quite reflect the actual proportion of female players at the felts, with the World Series of Poker (WOSP) serving as an example. During the festival’s 2018 edition, only 3.8 percent of the Main Event field was comprised of women. Female participation numbers improved a bit the following year, with 350 out of the 8,569 (4.1 percent) Main Event players being women.
In male-dominated poker tables, a huge number (45 percent) usually feel intimidated by male players, with 15% saying that it happened to them many times. 83% also said they are discouraged to take part in games if the men outnumber the women. Casino settings also push away female players, with 47 percent agreeing that they feel intimidated to enter these venues.
The findings also show that women are more comfortable playing at home (27%) and with their friends (22%). Only 8% are comfortable playing online and just 5% would prefer to play at a casino.
The respondents also shared their experiences playing the game, and while a lot of them had some good things to say about their personal experiences, there were still some negative sentiments, such as intimidating (16%), disappointing (8%), annoying (7%), and unwelcoming (7%).
Some of the intimidating behaviors experienced by women in male-dominated environments are sexism, loud behavior, and verbal aggression. These gender-related experiences are some of the reasons why 32% of the respondents feel less inclined to play poker.
Poker Perception Needs To Change
The outcome of the survey does not represent the general views of women in poker, but it underlines one important thing – the negative perception needs to change.
While more women than ever before are now attracted to poker and enjoying the game, poker operators around the world need to do more to make the poker world a comfortable and inclusive environment for everyone, no matter the gender.
Men need to change their attitudes towards their female counterparts whenever they are at the same table and avoid offensive behaviors. Similarly, poker rooms and casinos should be more welcoming and make their games more appealing to women.
The industry can also come up with more programs or create communities where female poker players are allowed to build a strong connection between them, and are able to motivate each other. This is something Poker of League of Nations co-founder Lena Evans is passionate about. Her advocacy involves hosting ladies events, and also exposing women players to open tournaments.
Women Achievers in Poker
Currently, there are a lot of women finding success at the felt. Some of the top female poker players in the world include Vanessa Selbst, Liv Boeree, Maria Ho and Kristen Bicknell.
Barbara Enright became the first female player to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, while Jennifer Harman and Linda Johnson are both winners of multiple WSOP gold bracelets. Apart from that, some women are also holding key positions within the poker industry. Take for example Angelica Hael, who is the Vice President of Global Tour Management for the World Poker Tour.
The poker world still has a long way to go to achieve parity, but through constant effort and a collective approach, things will change for the better for female poker players.

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