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Baumann: "I Consider Myself a Player, Not a Male or Female Player"
The ever-present debate surrounding Ladies events in poker reared up again this week - for good reason - in Deauville.
A total of 22 men entered the field with seven making the final 14. One of those men, Thierry Derkx, took the imposition all the way to its completion by winning the event outright.
Runner-up Sabina Hiatullah was awarded the trophy - and even laughed about how poorly the men in the event played - but the situation still left a sour taste among most observers.
One of those observers? None other than Gaëlle Baumann, one of the few women in poker who has managed to supercede discussion of her gender to focus primarily on her game.
PokerListings caught up with Baumann during a break of the Main Event for her thoughts on the importance of ladies' events, her imminent arrival in motherhood and her future as a professional poker player.
PokerListings: There were 20 men playing the ladies event here in Deauville. What do you think about this?
Gaëlle Baumann: Every man who insists on taking part in a ladies event because the local law gives him the right misunderstands the meaning of such a special tournament.
It is more a marketing element, which is good for live poker and the poker market in general. Ninety-five percent of the field a regular tournament is male, anyway.
And the ladies event is for all the women who wouldn’t play an official tournament because of the male dominance.
A ladies event is there to make them play in general. And maybe in this protected environment, they can get the self-confidence to try it in another EPT-tournament.
I mean, it can be really intimidating for a woman if she is the only woman at a poker table.
I for myself remember my first steps, when I played in poker clubs in Paris. I felt very intimidated between all those men most of the time.
PL: You said once that Australia is your favorite country. Why are you here and not at the Aussie Millions?
GB: (laughs). As you can see, I am five months pregnant. I like Australia, because I used to live there when I was young.
But I also like Deauville. It’s really close to London.
PL: You live there?
GB: Yes. I go back and forth between London and Malta.
PL: And you like to be in Deauville in February? It’s windy, cold and grey.
GB: Of course, it would be better to hold the tournament in summer. But it's better than no French stop on the tour at all.
There is a lot of dead money in this tournament, because of all those poor-playing amateurs from Paris (laughs). We love to have them in the tournaments.
PL: As you live abroad, can you play on French poker sites?
GB: From Malta yes. From London, no. That’s why I switch between these two places. To have the opportunity to play tournaments on Winamax.
PL: Online poker traffic in France has been going down because of the high taxes. What’s the status now?
GB: There are a lot of French players in trouble with the tax authorities. But there is no clear legislation.
So the players feel insecure. The biggest problem is that they want to charge taxes for the past five years. And the tax rate is about 35 to 40 percent, which is a lot.
But many poker players don’t even have their winnings anymore.
PL: What is your current status as a professional player?
GB: I live with my boyfriend and we will have a child soon. Although I hope I can continue playing the live events as soon as my baby is old enough.
I don’t plan to retire (laughs). I think that will be possible with a little bit of extra organization.
There is actually no real role model in the current poker circuit. Maybe Claire Renaut, who is the wife of Fabrice Soulier.
Of course she doesn’t play the expensive tournaments, but she takes the baby along whenever she accompanies her husband on the tour.
PL: You said once that you would have liked to study astrophysics. What are your future plans?
GB: Nothing related to astrophysics. That dream is over (laughs).
My current status is being a professional poker player. But maybe there comes another goal in the future.
PL: Does a woman need masculine characteristics to survive on the poker circuit?
GB: I always thought that I have more masculine than feminine characteristics.
Of course it is a cliché, but I still see a lot of differences in the playing style when I play a ladies event.
But let me say it like this: I consider myself as a player and not as a male or female player.
PL: Last question: Do you still have nightmares about that encounter with Andras Koroknai in the WSOP Main Event 2012?
GB: No, I was not thinking about that until I was playing against him in Prague a couple of weeks ago.
As soon as I played a hand with him, all those memories came back (laughs).
So there must be still something in my subconscious (laughs).