Enright is Queen of card clubs

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Editor’s note: This is part one of a three-part series dedicated to Women in Poker.

More and more women are participating in the game of poker. I recall years ago when there was rarely even one woman at a full table of nine players. More recently, I observed two, three, sometimes even four women at the table.

For the most part, they are solid players, tending to be less aggressive than their male counterparts. Their presence adds to the enjoyment of the game.

I have three favorites: Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher, and Barbara Enright. They are true celebrities. In this and the next two columns, let me tell you about these wonderful female poker players. They contribute so much to making the games all the more enjoyable for us.

Barbara Enright is a native of Los Angeles, where she still lives in the Hollywood area with her beloved significant other, Max Shapiro who is known for his amusing and entertaining poker columns of past years.

She is the first woman ever to win a major open World Series of Poker event by taking first place in the pot-limit hold’em tournament in 1996. She holds an open event bracelet, and also has won two bracelets in the WSOP ladies’ championship.

The only woman to make the WSOP $10,000 buy-in main event final table, Enright also received the all-around best player award at the 2000 Legends of Poker tournament series at the Bike. Along with her prize money, she was awarded a new PT Cruiser for her trophy. She had eight cash finishes and made six final tables with two wins and two seconds.

Most notably, on July 6, 2007, she became the first woman inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame — along with poker celebrity Phil Hellmuth. Four years later, in 2011, Linda Johnson was also inducted into that elite group. She is the woman with the most first place finishes.

No question about it, she is a true poker celebrity. She is the only poker player in history to be in all three poker Halls of Fame — the Senior’s Poker Hall of Fame, the World Series of Poker Hall of Fame and the Women in Poker Hall of Fame. As often as I have seen her playing at the tables, never once did she seem to go on tilt — even after a bad beat.

Enright’s love of the game of poker started early in her life. It goes back to when she was just four years old and began playing poker at home. In those days, it was five-card draw against her older brother. She started playing in card rooms in 1976. 

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Along the way, Enright worked as a hairstylist, a bartender, and a cocktail waitress, often holding down three jobs at once to help support her family. But the game of poker was her ultimate career — especially when she found she could earn so much more by playing poker.

Among her other accomplishments, Enright was the highest finisher among women in the Tournament of Champions of Poker held at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. She finished in 11th place, missing winning a car by only one player. She participated in the televised poker series, Poker Royale, which began in 2005, playing in its seventh — and final — series, “The Battle of the Ages.”

As of 2018, Enright’s total live tournament winnings exceed $1,650,000. Her 21 cashes in the WSOP account for over $425,000 of those winnings. She has served as the Editor-in-Chief of Women Poker Player Magazine and as an ambassador for the Poker League of Nations, the world’s largest women’s poker organization.

She is truly a lady of distinction and a credit to our poker world. She is loved and admired by all who know her. Long may she shine and rule!

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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