The “Ladies” Event at the World Series of Poker

Many people know about the World Series of Poker from the television coverage on ESPN. Mostly they just show the “Main Event” on TV.

Ladies PokerHoa Nguyen from worldseriesofpoker.com.

The main event has a $10,000 buy-in and lasts for two weeks. Leading up to the main event, there are dozens of other tournaments, some of which are going on right now.

Last year my wife Jeannette played in the ladies event at the World Series of Poker. As I wandered around the poker room, I noticed a few of the contestants sported very un-ladylike goatees. On closer inspection, they were definitely men.

I asked around, and it turns out that the casino technically cannot exclude men from participating in the ladies event if they want to. Every year a few men enter.

Unless there is a case of mistaken identity, it looks like a man is threatening to win the ladies event at this year’s World Series of Poker. After one day of play, the starting field of over 1,000 has been whittled down to just 61 remaining players. Here are the chip leaders so far:

Shavonne Mitchell, 94,000
Alice Talbot, 92,700
Roslyn Quarto, 86,100
Olga Varkonyi, 83,800
Christine Priday, 82,900
Lisa Ahumada, 74,100
Hoa Nguyen, 71,800

When I click on Hoa Nguyen’s link, he doesn’t look much like a lady.

If you want to follow Hoa’s progress, live updates of chip counts are available online.

So here is my question. Which is more embarrassing, (a) the World Series of Poker running a ladies tournament and having a man win it, or (b) actually being the man who wins the event?

[Addendum: Reliable sources have confirmed that the Hoa Nguyen playing in the ladies event is a woman, so it is indeed a case of mistaken identity. I don’t think you can say the same for this lady, or our friends Rafe Furst and Phil Gordon.]


Ross

I checked and last years winner took home $265,000. That is obviously enough incentive for some guys to risk what ever embarrassment they might encounter. But I wouldn't do it. B.

Jason

Why in God's name is there a Ladies' League in poker anyway?

Separate consideration of genders makes sense for physical activities where gender differences in weight, strength, endurance, or balance are likely to be a factor.

But the only possible reason to separate women from men in poker is to prevent divorce when your wife goes all in against your pocket kings -- not usually an issue in tournament play.

Damon

I'm thinking if he won then he wouldn't have any embarrassment cashing that check.

And yes its ridiculous that you can't legally have a women's poker tournament. Its also ridiculous that you can't legally have a men's poker tournament.

Silas

C: Being the man who enters the ladies event expecting weak competition only to lose to a bunch of women.

CannibalCrowley

So let me get this straight. When a woman enters an event that traditionally for men she's given all kinds of congratulations; but when a man enters an event for women he's derided. What's the definition of sexism again?

slamb

At first glance I agree with gabber's choice of B, but evolutionarily-speaking (and to the end of gender inequality), shouldn't this become the norm? Men entering 'women's events and women entering 'men's events? At some point then hopefully, the humor (or embarrassment) in the opposite gender entering and winning another's event goes away...

Jesse

But...but...I don't understand why poker has to separate women's tournaments from men's. If he does win, how can he be ridiculed without demeaning the abilities of the women playing? It's not the same as bulked up high school guys playing on the girl's field hockey team.

Lola

Oh whatev. Breaking gender barriers goes both ways. And in a game such as poker there's no particular gender advantage to men as there would be in, say, weight-lifting.

Plus, consider the possible motives for Mr. Nguyen's participation in the event. I bet he's meeting a bunch of women sharing his passion for poker. :)

Jason

B, I am sick and tired of people participating in things simply to show the world they won't be excluded. It's a ladies tournament and although I never thought poker to be one of those things that needed gender specific tournaments but a man participating in it just shows a lack of understanding for the spirit of the tournament.

MRB

way late...

but poker is a social game.

Ladies Event at the WSOP makes as much sense as any group of women deciding to have a "ladies night" of their own at a bar or whatever. Sometimes people want to spend time with people of the same gender. There is nothing preventing the women who play in the Ladies Event from playing in the Main event (or any of the 53 other tournaments associated with the WSOP).