Ladies in the WSOP House: Cali Jen Treads Lightly…For Now

by , Jun 7, 2009 | 2:07 pm

It was two years ago that I wrote my first opinion piece about the WSOP ladies-only tournament. After I received a sufficient amount of hate mail, I wrote a follow-up piece. I skipped the subject at the 2008 WSOP except for a few snarky comments, and now it slaps me in the face yet again as I sit on media row in front of a sea of women. In lieu of a rant or reiteration of my previously-stated feelings on the issue, I’ll just relay a few notes.

• When your practice game isn’t at a casino but in a home game with your husband and your dad, you might be in trouble at the WSOP.

• When your first instinct at the table is to introduce yourself to everyone and ask where they’re from instead of sizing them up and concentrating on your own strategy, you’re giving off a big tell.

• If you have to apologize for knocking another player out of the tournament, you’re not cut out for tournament poker.

• When the floor staff is openly yawning while observing the tables, the play is not exactly top-notch.

• When tables full of women squeal at every mention of finishing a level or moving to a new table, this is clearly not a room full of pros.

• When the tournament announcer says that another event’s restart will be in the other room to “make room for all these beautiful ladies,” they’re talking to you like you’re “special people” and you shouldn’t smile about that.

Media row is half empty today and will be until the 5pm start of the World Championship O8 tournament. And those of us who are here are praying for the men to arrive for other events so it evens out a bit. For me, add some women-tilt that came from a phone call attempting to convince me not to write anything negative about the Women in Poker Hall of Fame, and I’m simply trying not to write something that will get me bitch-slapped I may regret later. I’ll be staying out of the hallways on breaks, that’s for sure.

21 Comments to “Ladies in the WSOP House: Cali Jen Treads Lightly…For Now”

  1. BJ Nemeth

    I’ve said it before, but it’s even more obvious now — you have totally missed the point.

    It’s not about top competition. It’s not about whether these women are tournament pros, or cut out to be tournament pros, or if they will ever be tournament pros.

    But how many women played the $1,000 stimulus event? At most, maybe 200? There are more than five times that many in the ladies event. (And if you want to talk about horrible players, maybe you should have paid close attention to a lot of men in that stimulus event …)

    Many of these women will play this one event, have some fun, and leave it at that. But many of these women will develop a taste for it — they’ll think, “Hey, poker is pretty fun! It’s not what I thought it would be.” They might start playing in more home games, or signing up for an online account, or even enter another (“real”) tournament.

    You’re judging this event by the wrong criteria, Jen — don’t be such a defensive feminist. (But you know I love you!) 🙂

  2. California Jen

    BJ, I love you, too, but I think you’ve missed my point. You say it’s not about top competition? It’s the WSOP! This is supposed to be about the ultimate competition!

    If the ladies event is something different, and just an event to induce women to fall in love with poker tournaments, it should not be a bracelet event.

    Stimulus event donkeys? Sure thing. But it doesn’t discriminate against any donkey gender. All of them are welcome to play. 🙂

  3. Lisa

    I think you misplaced your quotes around “special” people. :O)

  4. KenP

    Well, first the click thru is archaic Internet. It enlarged fonts for the window and not text — screwing up my browser based RSS reader. Boo!

    The ladies tournament is an option for participants. If you object to some piece of marketing, fine. Others didn’t. So, did Tilly win the makeover?

    I’m a senior. 4 o’clock special buffets aren’t my thing. I won’t knock those who like them. I just sit here in my putter pants and sandals with socks feeling superior like you.

  5. DanM

    I say leave it to capitalism. If the tournament fills, run it. If not, trash it.

    I like that you had a “ladies weekend” with WSOP-Academy Ladies BootCamp, Women in Poker Hall of Fame induction, then Ladies event.

    If we as a nation can have “Black History Month”, I don’t see why the WSOP can’t have a Poker Ladies Weekend.

    — side-question … how many runners would a ladies only $1k PLO get?

  6. Poker Shrink

    Jen, if this was not trashing the Ladies event then I need to go back and read your actual rants. Methinks you should just take this day off each and every year.

  7. Dave (Memphis MOJO)

    “make room for all these beautiful ladies,”

    If commenters/readers can’t see that this is condescending, then I don’t know what to say.

  8. Cardgrrl

    Hey, we got a deck of lavendar playing cards for our $1000! Who doesn’t love that?


    I lost count of the number of stupid sexist things associated with this event. I very much doubt I’ll ever play another one.

  9. Jordan

    This is an odd one. You basically just slammed the players instead of the event. It’s one thing to complain that the WSOP is catering to females in a pandering way; it’s another thing to state that a field of female players act like children, which is basically what you are saying. It’s not the WSOP who encourages the ladies to whoop it up after each new level is announced. So, are you railing against the WSOP or women participants in the ladies event?

  10. DanM

    oooooh! yeah jen, burn! i think he’s got you on this one.

  11. California Jen

    Jordan, your question is a good one. I’m essentially railing against both, as they each feed into each other.

    Women who play in open events are less likely to apologize when they eliminate another player, squeal when they make it to the first break, etc. But the atmosphere of the all-ladies event makes all of that acceptable…and encouraged. And when the tournament staff sees the behavior, they cater to it and feed into the giddiness. Staff also takes it too far with the condescending comments about the “pretty ladies,” which for many women is cute and appealing (though some do find it infuriating). In essence, I believe they both feed into each other and make for a nauseating event for me, personally, to watch.

    My main arguable point is that open events shouldn’t be bracelet events at the WSOP. My other snarky comments are more of a personal commentary on things that annoy me on the day of the ladies at the WSOP.

  12. DanM

    ***In essence, I believe they both feed into each other and make for a nauseating event for me, personally, to watch.***

    So you don’t think the final table, with all the money and a bracelet on the line, will be intense poker? I’d think once all the sickening stuff has been eliminated, you’d be all down with the pokeriffic display of “girl power” and all that.

  13. California Jen

    The playdown and final table play are usually okay, as most are intense enough about the money and bracelet at stake to be serious about it and put their best game on the table. It’s mainly the process of Day 1 and playing to the money on Day 2 that is tough for me to take.

    Girl power? Did you just say that? Maybe you should work on the staff during the ladies event.

  14. DanM

    ***Did you just say that? Maybe you should work on the staff during the ladies event.***

    Oooh, re-burn!

  15. BJ Nemeth

    Women are so cute when they’re angry! 🙂

  16. bellatrix


    It was nice meeting you briefly during dinner with Shamus. Yes, the moving of the women to another room (which I was part of) was lolbad and cringeworthy. You could see they didn’t care much for the event and treated it as a spectacle.

    But as I said to you at dinner, my main interest is that as many women as possible enter this event. I talked to every female in Las Vegas to enter this event, because it was fun, relaxed tourney and you were gonna have fun. Yes, I’m a bad person, for wanting my tables as soft as possible…?

    I also talk to the ladies at my table, ask a lot of questions of where they are from. That gives me information. Did you win this seat in a “women’s league” or do you actually attend cardrooms regularly? Where do you play? How long have you been playing? Is 1000$ significant to you? etc. etc. etc. I like to mask it as cute table talk, but it’s not.


    Tanya (bellatrix)

  17. Poker Shrink

    Once again Jen, note to self: In 2010 take Day One of the Ladies/Women’s Event OFF! Go to a bull fight or do your nails. Maybe a nice facial then the Spearmint Rhino.

  18. California Jen

    Tanya, it was great meeting you as well, and I hope you had a good time overall in the event. Thanks for your take on it.

    Shrink, I’m not having this conversation with you anymore. You don’t even have a point except to piss me off.

  19. BJ Nemeth

    See? She’s even cuter when she’s angry! 🙂

  20. DanM

    Jen, you should so threaten to de-friend BJ on facebook for that.

  21. Derek

    I guess Evelyn Ng should just take some time off and get her nails done too?

    Awarding a “World Championship” title and a WSOP bracelet in an event that “isn’t about top competition” cheapens every other bracelet awarded.