Coincidentally (or not), Sunday marked the first day of the Ladies No-Limit Hold'em tournament, an event that has already been given its share of press on this Web site. Whether deservingly so or not, the Ladies event has been marked on our calendars since our arrival in Las Vegas, if only for the promised attendance of celebrities like Joseph Hachem, Mark Vos at their table. And the table with Marcel Luske and Gus Hansen was joined by Jennifer Harman and Clonie Gowen.
That's right - Jennifer Harman and Clonie Gowen were playing in this event. So was Annie Duke. While 1,128 women were throwing chips around at the other side of the room, the world's best female poker players were putting themselves in the line of fire, surrounding themselves with their male counterparts and grinding out pots. But why?
I can think of a couple reasons, one practical and one more romantic. The first is that with a bigger field than ever before, the Ladies event has ceased to be a slam-dunk for any female poker player, just as the Main Event this year will be a crapshoot. There's no guarantee of cashing in a tournament with 1,128 people regardless of one's skill level, so maybe Harman, Gowen, and others just figured they'd take their chances on a smaller field.
But I think it comes down to something else. I think it comes down to prestige. With the overcrowding of the Main Event, there are precious few opportunities for poker players to prove themselves as being one of the best. This $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha tournament, as little known as it is, is certainly an avenue for a player to make a name for himself. So with 218 of the best poker players on the planet grouped together in one high stakes event, the question is, why aren't we paying more attention?