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Deeb's WSOP Stunt Sparks Gender Equality Debate
By now, most WSOP followers have heard about the group of males who played in the 2010 WSOP Ladies Event.
Las Vegas pro Shaun Deeb headlined the handful of men who registered for the event, making a splash with his drag ensemble.
Now, poker pros are debating whether he was right or wrong for entering the tournament.
Female entrants had mixed reactions to the unexpectedly coed field. Some were amused, others offended. Poker pro and ladies' event participant Liv Boeree is reportedly the person who helped Deeb with his cross dressing. While other players such as Allyn Shulman let it be known that they were not amused.
Deeb claims in a YouTube video statement that the makeup and female clothing he wore was the result of a lost prop bet, and that he went and changed clothes during the break after becoming aware that it was offending some of the players.
WSOP tournament officials were not impressed with the male registrants' stunt, first trying to discourage them from entering, and then promising sanctions against the players who went ahead and played-possibly in the form of a suspension or outright ban from WSOP events.
Now the debate over the merits of the Ladies Event has spread like wildfire.
Deeb has taken his case to internet, claiming that he entered the event with the intention of donating his winnings to a women's charity, and that he only registered to take stand against gender inequality at the WSOP.
Not everyone is buying that argument.
"Men have had it pretty good, so whining about sexual equality as a man is a pretty lame excuse to take part in a ladies event," Daniel Negreanu wrote in his blog. "It's beyond lame, it's just plain foolish. You aren't fighting for men's rights, or women's right for that matter, you are just being an ass."
Others have voiced their support for Deeb and the other men. "Obviously if Deeb was playing for charity he couldn't be playing for personal monetary gain," Annie Duke wrote via Twitter. "So it's unfair to criticize him for that."
Duke has long boycotted the ladies event on the grounds that it's counterproductive for women who are trying to garner the same respect as their male counterparts. "I just don't agree with the event," Duke went on to say. "I think it discourages women from playing the open events, personally."
Some, including Deeb, have suggested replacing the Ladies Event with a beginner's event, which would serve the same purpose of bringing new players into the WSOP but not preclude anyone from entering based on gender.
For now, the debate rages on. Is Deeb a freedom fighter or just an ass?
Harrah's and WSOP Communications Director Seth Palansky did not have any further comment on the matter when asked for his reaction to Deeb's YouTube statement. "That's over," he said. "I don't want to give the guy any more publicity." Palansky said the WSOP would make an announcement if and when punishments are handed out.