No nixing WSOP Ladies Event

Susie Isacs
Two-time WSOP Ladies Event winner Susie Isaacs might have a thing or two to say if the Ladies Event were to disappear from the poker tournament lineup.

During the World Series of Poker this year, a little rumor leaked its way through the poker players in attendance - this was the last year for the Ladies Championship. As most rumors go, it was completely untrue and Jeffrey Pollack even addressed the issue in his blog.

"Absolutely wrong! As long as I'm commissioner, and as long as women keep turning out in droves for this event like they did this year, the Ladies World Championship will be on our schedule - as a bracelet event and as a very special part of the WSOP," Pollack said.

And I have to agree with that decision. There are certain female players out there who avoid the ladies only events, including the most prestigious of them all at the WSOP, because they find it insulting to imply that women need an event all their own to be able to win a coveted gold bracelet.

However, not every woman can walk into a poker room and play balls-out poker with the men like Annie Duke - at least not initially.

Women need their own place to get started and get comfortable with poker so they can branch into playing with the men once they get more comfortable.

That's not going to happen for them if they just venture into a random poker tournament or card room out there. Poker is definitely still a male dominated world, and its not easy for a novice female player to just sit down at a table full of men and learn the game and hone her skills.

Instead, they need a place more comfortable to get started - and an all-female tournament is the best place to get started.

Annie Duke herself has said that male poker players come in three variations - the flirt, the chauvinist who doesn't think you belong there and hates you, and the chauvinist who thinks women don't have the brain for poker.

All three of those types of men at the poker table will end up a distraction from being able to truly learn the game. Women shouldn't have to put up with any of that behavior while they're trying to focus on the game and improving their own decision-making.

Take the men out of the game, and then all you have to worry about is correct play, not harassment or condescension over every decision you make.

So at the very basic levels of poker, women need all-female games and events to get started. That same philosophy applies to the World Series of Poker as well.

The WSOP is the "Big Time" of poker. Serious players head to Vegas to prove their worth at the poker table and hopefully head home with a gold bracelet to show for it. Even the best of poker players may be intimidated when they walk into that kind of environment.

It doesn't help that the male dominance of the game is even more pronounced at these big events. Women end up making 10% or less of the playing fields of many of the events.

It's a whole different type of environment that some players may again need to ease into. For women, that means an all-female event. It's not about whether or not the women can compete with the men - Annie Duke, Cyndy Violette and Kathy Liebert are just a few who've proven women can hold their own against the men - it's about providing an event that will help women become more involved in poker and the WSOP.

Poker is big business these days, and women have been a fairly untapped part of that market. There's no better way to encourage them to give it a try than offering them events exclusively for them.

It's working too. The WSOP Ladies Event this year saw a record playing field of 1,286 players, more than 100 more than the previous year, and more than double the playing field from 2005.

That's 1,286 women who otherwise may not have dropped $1,000 to play in any event at the World Series of Poker. Women who are building up confidence with events like these in order to someday take on the men in the other events.

Someday poker will be more equal and we'll see playing fields that are closer to 50-50 male and female players, and it will be because of these ladies only events that give them a place to gain confidence before venturing into the "man's world" of poker where they could easily have been driven away otherwise.

That being said, should the WSOP Ladies Event still be a bracelet-worthy event? Absolutely. It's the World Series of Poker, and if it's worthy of being an actual event and not just a satellite to get into something else, it's worthy of a bracelet.

Not to lessen the importance of bracelets won in past years when the playing fields weren't as large, but the winners are even more worthy of a bracelet these past few years as the playing field has grown.

If a woman can beat more than a thousand other women in a World Series Event, she should be given the same status and reward as the player who beat 385 players to win a bracelet in Seven-Card Stud.

Besides, if they want to start changing things up to make winning a bracelet more meaningful again, perhaps the WSOP organizers should look at eliminating one of the six $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em events they hosted this year that drew in a lot of players, but definitely diluted the importance of the events' bracelets.

For a look at the other side of the WSOP Ladies Event debate, check out WSOP Should Axe Antiquated Ladies Event.

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