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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

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.]