Sometimes I find myself wondering if women are really human beings or not. I don’t mean this is in a qualitative sort of Taliban sense – women have every bit as much to offer society as men do and should enjoy each and every one of the same rights. But I swear that you women are a different species than us men.

I was playing on Party Poker the other day and the name Annette Obrestad popped up in the little yellow chat box. Normally, I wouldn’t have even thought about chatting except that this guy was such a Party Poker pooper I felt compelled to respond. Froggo5331_brug was maintaining that the only reason that Annette won the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe Main Event was because of her sex. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Annette, she rose to fame at the age of 18 when she won the World Series of Poker Europe tournament and the grand prize of $2,000,000. And what this guy was saying was just not true – Obrestad is a fantastic young player, has had other tournament successes and on top of that, she didn’t pull a Jennifer Tilly (low cut top + big boobs = advantage at the poker table.) So I clicked the “sit out” button and readied myself a response:

“Frog, if she only won because she was doing the barely legal thing then how did she win that other online tournament without ever even looking at her cards?”

“It’s not that hard to play position, I mean, who knows… I’m just saying that men are easily manipulated by women.”

“Right… are you married?”

“Of course! He’s asleep. He works and he sleeps, while I stay up.” He?! This froggo was a woman?!

“Does he know you stay up at night playing poker?”

“Women are much better at keeping secrets than men ;-)”

So this got me to thinking — are there any specific differences between male and female poker players attributable to sex? There have to be, right? To answer this question, I devised a series of questions, a survey of sorts, which I administered individually to 20 people. I asked 12 Men and 8 Women (sorry I couldn’t find that many female poker players) between the ages of 20 and 40 10 questions. Here are their answers sorted by gender and I’ve included a few of the more interesting responses for you to read.

Question 1: Is poker a sport?
12 said yes, 8 said no: 6 Men said yes, 6 Men said no, 6 Women said yes and 2 Women said no

The first question was a straight forward yes or no – “Is poker a sport?” I wasn’t too surprised to see men split right down the middle. Personally, I would vote a resounding no (I did not count myself in this survey) but I know that a lot of men fancy everything that they do as sport. I was stunned to see women so definitively say that poker is a sport. I’m not sure what this says about gender, but a 31 year old man and a 24 year old woman both brought up the phrase, “mental sport.” The woman said, “Yes, it’s a mental sport” while the man said, “No, it’s just a mental sport.” Each exhibited a different implicit understanding of what a sport is (I intentionally did not offer my own definition of sport) – the man’s included a requisite physicality while the woman’s did not. The best answer had to be a man in his thirties who quickly responded:
“Is chess a sport?”

Question 2: Is poker a sin?
18 say no, 2 say yes: all 12 Men said no, 6 Women said no and 2 Women said yes

Many people took care to qualify their answers and say that while poker is not a sin, both gambling and playing poker with necessary moneys (rent, food, etc.) are. The two women who did answer yes, poker is a sin, were both in their early twenties and attractive – hot. I’m not sure if that played into their decisions but I have heard that women who grow up beautiful are so often pummeled with the rather repugnant sexual advances of flap faced old men that they learn to feel bad about some of things that they do. Other things could be at play, maybe… yeah this is some over-the-counter psychology. Best response:
“It’s not always a sin, but betting your kid’s college is.”

Question 3: How do you make money playing poker?
5 Men and 1 Woman said being smart, 3 Women and 2 Men said good strategy, 3 Men said practice, 2 Women said bluffing, 1 Man and 2 Women said reading people and 1 Man said that he would like to know

As you would expect, there were lots of different answers across the board. I think that the most telling discrepancy here is that most men (8 out of the 12) believe that you have to be a good poker player to make money – either through being smart or through practicing which presumably makes you into a better player. There is a passive, static state of being that men attribute making money to while most women (7 out of the 8) focus on activity. Either employing good strategy, bluffing or reading people – those are all things that you do as opposed to the others which are things that you are. My favorite answer was:
“Having enough money to pay to learn.”

Question 4: Can a member of the opposite sex use their sex to distract players at the table?
16 said yes, 4 said no: 11 Men said yes, 1 said no, 5 Women said yes and 3 Women said no

The word “boobs” popped up in more than half of the answers to good old question number 4. So we all know how a woman can distract a man, but how did people think that a man could distract a woman at the table? 12 of the 16 people who answered yes (8 of the men and 4 of the women) said intimidation – a guy could get really aggressive and probably have an effect on many women. The other 4 who said yes all said that a man could compliment a woman and pay her extra attention to throw her off:
“Boobs are my tilt.”

Read Part 2 of “Sex Play” to see the results of the rest of the survey questions

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