Men have predominantly dominated the poker circuit since the inception of the game. People considered it to be just a shady gambling activity, and most did not even deem it a sport. Due to its ill reputation, there was no place for women at the poker table. The very few rare ones, who tried to enter the male-dominated world, had to endure scrutiny from the judgemental society. Poker slowly became mainstream, with Benny Binion establishing the World Series of Poker in 1970. Before that, the card game did not have much-documented history due to it being played only in private settings.
However, the game steadily started to gain popularity in the 70s, with both genders battling it out on the green, felt in the casinos of Las Vegas. And in 1979, Barbara Freer entered the $400 Ladies Limit Seven Card Stud tournament to win almost $13,000. With that, the poker circuit slowly started to become populated with women players as well. This article will list some of the best female poker players in the history of the game.
Best female poker players
With time, poker started to become more mainstream, and there was a significant rise in the number of female poker players. While players like Freer and Enright certainly deserve credit for it, the game was also becoming de-stigmatised. All these encouraged more and more women to join the poker circuit to test their luck and skills.
1. Olivia “Liv” Boeree
One of the most successful female poker players of all time, Boeree has won over $3.7m from participating in live tournaments. Her first major poker tournament win came in 2008 when she won the European Ladies Championship and got generous prize money of $42,000. Some of her most memorable championship runs were at the WPT Championship Main Event (finishing 40) and the 2009 Five Star World Poker Classic in Las Vegas. However, her career peaked when she won the 6th edition of the European Poker Tour in 2010. She defeated 1,240 participants to win a massive $1,698,300 first prize. This win cemented her position as one of the finest poker players to come out of Britain.
2. Annie Duke
Known as the ‘Duchess of Poker’, Annie Duke had been one of the top poker players in the world for 2 decades. She won her first World Series of Poker bracelet in 2004, beating a field of 234 players. She also won $2 million in the invitation-only WSOP Tournament of Champions. 6 years later, she was the proud winner of the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Up until Vanessa Selbst broke the record, Annie was the leading female money winner in the World Series.
3. Maria Ho
Maria Ho is a Hall of Fame professional poker player with over 4 million dollars in live poker tournament earnings. She was inducted into the Women in Poker ‘HALL OF FAME’ in 2018, her very first year of nomination. Her impressive resume of live tournament results includes making it to the final table of 6 WSOP, 4 WPT with 1 title, and 21 additional final tables on the professional circuit.
4. Victoria Coren Mitchell
Victoria won the EPT London in 2006 to become the first woman to win a European Poker Tour event. She followed it with a number of high-profile tournament successes. The biggest highlight of her career was her winning almost half a million Euros by securing the 2014 EPT San Remo championship. In all, Victoria Coren has almost 2.5 million dollars in earnings from various live poker tournaments and championships. She was inducted into the Women in Poker ‘HALL OF FAME’ in 2016.
5. Vanessa Selbst
Selbst’s made her name by securing the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to win a cool $1.4 million. Her other notable achievements include back-to-back scores on the North American Poker Tour and 3 WSOP bracelets. She has won a total of $11.8 million from various poker championships. She is also the only woman ever to rank first on the Global Poker Index.
This list of the best poker players is by no means exhaustive and is limited to 5 of the best current players only. There are loads of others such as Kathy Liebert, Vanessa Rousso, Annette Obrestad, Jennifer Harman, and Joanne ‘JJ’ Liu who could not make it to the list due to the limitation of naming 5 players only.
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