The girl’s guide to playing poker

Poker was once a male-dominated activity – but then again, so was playing soccer, driving cars and fighting fires. Times have changed, and as far as poker is concerned, the past 15-20 years have seen a growing tide of women players taking their seats at the table alongside the guys and playing on equal terms.

Having said that, there’s no denying that women are still outnumbered by men in poker. If you walk into a casino this evening and take a seat at a poker table, there’s an even money chance you’ll be the only girl at the table. That can be a little disconcerting, especially when the drinks are flowing and the 50-something businessmen mentally regress to 15 year olds in the locker room. However, it certainly shouldn’t put you off from following in the footsteps of poker pioneers like Vanessa Selbst and Victoria Coren-Mitchell. Here are some survival tips to help you along the way.

Start in cyberspace

There are as many poker tournaments online as there are in the physical world. In fact, there are probably more. Online platforms are the choice of most women poker players while they are finding their feet and really getting to know their game. Of course, you are still likely to be outnumbered by the guys, and the locker room mentality can be even worse when the perpetrators are hiding behind a keyboard. The good thing is they are easier to mute. Also keep in mind that joking around is fine, but if it escalates into harassment, that’s not something that anyone has to tolerate, and the casino platform is duty bound to take action.

Consider a women’s league

Guys and girls can and do play in the same leagues, and that feels right – there is no logical reason to do otherwise. Still, a survey by a well-known poker site found that 83 percent of women who felt intimidated at the poker table said it was because the men outnumbered the women. Ladies International Poker Series operates tournaments all year round. There’s definitely something to be said for playing in a women’s league, at least while you are new and inexperienced.

Choose your seat with care

There are strategic pros and cons to different places at the poker table, which is a discussion worth saving for another day. Suffice it to say for our purposes today that if you are new to the live table format, a seat beside the dealer can give you a little extra confidence, as well as a good view of everyone else at the table.

Give it a try and have fun

Poker has not become the global phenomenon that it is by accident. It’s a game that is fun, rewarding and exciting, and while the internet has a lot going for it, there’s nothing quite like sitting around a real poker table with other players. Yes, poker is still male-dominated but more women are balancing that out every week, so why not join them? Good luck!