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Seeing female faces at the final tables of major poker tournaments is becoming a common occurrence so we spoke to Annette Obrestad, Jackie Glazier and Elisabeth Hille about the changing role of women in poker. Obrestad won the first-ever WSOP Europe Main Event, Hille narrowly missed the Main Event final table here in Las Vegas last year and Jackie Glazier is the official "Last Woman Standing" in the world championship this year. From the treatment woman get at the table to what their performances mean for females around the world getting into poker, these three accomplished players share their insight into how gender roles are being broken down in the poker world.
Woman: I think being the last woman standing in a main event is kind of an overrated thing, if you will. The whole point of playing the main, as a female, for me at least, is to show people that I can beat the guys. It's not that I'm like a wood girl who's good at poker. I want to be one of the good players, not one of the good female players.
I don't like when people focus too much on being the last woman standing, that's never been my goal when I play the main event, I play to win the tournament. I play to do really good, so whether or not, I'm the first female out or the last one, it really doesn't make a difference, because at the end of the day, you have to beat the rest of the players anyway.
Man: From Annette Obrestadt to Vanessa Selbst to Loni Harwood, women are increasingly showing that success at the poker table has nothing to do with gender, and women who are uncomfortable about competing in the male dominated poker world need only look at how a small Norwegian girl's hyper-aggressive style of play brought a full-grown man to the verge of tears.
Woman: [laughs] I played with Andy Black in Dublin, '07, this was right after I had won in London and I don't think he won a pot against me all day. I don't know what happened, if he just kind of froze at the end, because he was just folding to me all the time and then he ended up skewing off his whole stack after because I think he got tilted. It's one of the things that you probably don't get as much when it's "guys versus guys", but when it's a "guy versus girl", a guy doesn't want to lose to a girl, ever, like that's embarrassing. So they try their hardest not to.
Woman 2: I've sat at tables where I've seen guys be quite condescending towards women, I've come from a background where I've always been brought up to be very strong and independent, so that's never really been an issue for me. But there has been times where I've sat at the table and I've just cringed to hear how men speak to women. I just tell women to wear headphones, don't listen to them. I think if someone like myself was to make the final table at the world series, it would show women that they could do it as well.
I haven't come from a background where I've been playing poker for years and years, I came into the game quite late and I've just really dedicated myself to learning how to play and practicing. I think it shows women that they can hold their own in a game versus the men. If it's not me, I honestly do hope that another female makes the final table.
Woman: When I won the main event in '07, I was the first girl to ever win the main event. It was tough in the beginning because I knew that people would look up to me and I wanted to be a good role model, but at the same time, I didn't really know how to. I hope that people still look up to me, even though it's been a long time since I've won and I hope that my win did change poker for the better, but I'm not sure if it did. But I'd like to think it did.
Woman 3: It was very sad last year. Both me and Gail busted eleventh and tenth and nobody made the final table and I know everybody was rooting or us to make it. It would have been historical. Even so, I got so many replies and comments from women all over the world after the main event was over saying how much they rooted for me and much they were cheering. I think even though we didn't actually make the final table, it still made quite an impact on ladies. I think more more women got their eyes open to be able to play.
Woman: Yeah, I think it's great that the females were doing really well. I mean, we had two female winners in open events this year and it's awesome, because a lot of girls that I know are intimidated playing against the guys. Even my family, my mom plays poker, my aunt plays poker, and we went to the Norwegian championship in Dublin and they played the main event. They were so scared. And then they sit down and they relax and they realize "You know what, it's really not that scary." And so, it's good that a lot more females have come to the same conclusion that it's really not that bad. At the end of the day, we're all just having fun playing a poker game.
Woman 2: Outplaying someone, making correct decisions, and they're such little marker decisions even just with your betting structures or whether to flat or to raise, just every little element of the game relies so much on your intuition and and your thought processes, and I think it's a great game for anyone. It matters what gender you are.