Poker club offers boost to women

Apr 13, 2004 1:33 AM

Most often underestimated by their male competitors, women in poker are a growing force to be dealt with, and women are entering the poker field at a rapidly growing pace. This is due in part to TV’s coverage of the World Series of Poker and other major tournaments, of which the Travel Channel has reported that approximately one-third of their viewers are women.

Many women, particularly those starting out in poker, feel intimidated when they are first learning the game. This is escalated by the response of some of the men at the tables.

There are undoubtedly a fair number of male players that discriminate against females who enjoy poker. No matter how good a player may be, they feel that women will never be able to play this male dominated sport.

Many male players don’t take female players seriously, and don’t believe a woman would dare bluff. With more women entering and placing in international poker competitions each year, let them think that way. The more experienced women players know how to use this way of thinking at the tables to their advantage.

In order to give women a better chance of succeeding in and enjoying their newfound poker experience, Maryann Morrison has opened a club exclusively for women poker players who want to learn to be better players by competing against other women in a more comfortable and friendly environment.

The online Women's Poker Club located at womenspokerclub.com was created to encourage mentor coaching, and holds league and tournament play for women only. Opened last month, the club is free to join and welcomes women poker players of any rank from beginners to professionals.

"Online, you are allowed the anonymity to be anyone you want to be, which is one of the reasons why online poker is becoming increasingly popular among female players," Morrison said. "Some women in the club have played online using male nicknames or masculine avatars to help balance their treatment while playing."

Amy Zupko, a member of the Women's Poker Club and a stay-at-home mother of three, sums up her experience this way "I signed up for the Women's Poker Club as soon as I found out about it. It is great to be able to play against other women. No offense guys! I found that when playing poker against men, you have to earn their respect before they consider you a real player. I find that when it comes to a showdown, men will always try to bully me. Once I call their raises a few times, they get the message that I can’t be pushed around. I also find that this is a great time to bluff. Men don’t seem to think that women can bluff. Trust me, guys, we have been bluffing you about how much money we have spent at the mall for years, we are the champs!"

Women's Poker Club’s primary goal is to encourage more women to play poker, Morrison said.

"It’s important that female players have an environment that is collegial and comfortable for them to concentrate on improving their skills in actual competition," she said. "This allows them to feel at ease playing in any environment and brings more business, more bets, more games at the tables, and everybody’s happier."

Women's Poker Club tournaments and games are currently played online, although there are plans to have land-based events later this year. The response to the club has been overwhelming with 400 members signing up in the first month. Membership includes a diverse group of women such as doctors, mothers and daughters, business owners, and stay at home moms, who all share a love of the game of poker.

Morrison added that, "Playing online allows any member worldwide to play against another member no matter where they are. Once the women feel more comfortable in competition, they will be better skilled and able to take on their male components. My own personal goal is to see some of our members compete in the WSOP one day, and I just know it’s going to happen."