The world of poker is dominated by men. It has been for centuries and is only changing a little bit with the presence of online gaming and women-only poker tournaments. Poker used to be a favourite pastime of men while women were taking care of the children and house chores. At present, there are a lot more famous male poker players than females and top male players make more money than their female counterparts. But are men better at poker? In this article, we are trying to figure this one out.
We are discussing the demographics of poker with a blogger from Canada Michelle Thomas. Michelle is familiar with the online gaming business and you can read more about her here.
Male vs female gambling at a glance
Gambling, in general, is a male-dominated industry. This comes down to the differences between men and women in characteristics. Men like to compete and they like the feel of adrenaline rushing through their veins, whereas women are more like caretakers who try to avoid unnecessary risks.
According to statistics, only around 10% of poker players are female. This figure is even lower on live poker tournaments where the number is usually below 5%. When it comes to online poker, it is estimated that around one-third of all players are female but it is hard to be certain as often female poker players pretend to be males in poker rooms to avoid sexist comments.
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Famous female and male poker stars
There has been a number of very successful female poker players. The number one star is US national Vanessa Stelbst who has made $11.85 million playing poker but on the all-time money list this only grants her the 41st position. The best Canadian female player is Xuan Liu whose winnings total $1.95 million.
When you compare these figures to male poker players’ winnings you realize how much women are left behind men. Canadian poker player Daniel Negreanu has earned $41.8 million in tournaments.
Sexism around the poker table
As some male poker presenters will confirm, sexism is well and alive around the poker tables. While some male players welcome women without a problem, others feel disturbed by the presence of women and they will be hostile or outright rude to them, passing on sexist comments or they can be patronizing or intimidating. When women were asked why they don’t like playing poker with men these were the reasons coming up most often.
When women are at the poker table the testosterone levels of men are increased which can make the stronger gender take even more risks. Some men might very well be disturbed by provocative female clothing or body language.
As many women feel intimidated playing against men there have been female tournaments organized where they can share their passion for the game without having to fend for themselves. Such tournaments are somewhat controversial though as gender equality is hard to reach if women and men are separated in the first place.
Who are better players?
It is hard to say who is better at poker; men or women. There are so many fewer women competing that it wouldn’t be fair to compare their rankings or earnings. The gambling habits of the two genders differ. Men come to play poker for the competition, to test their skills and to risk money, whereas women often play to escape boredom or loneliness. Women tend to be better at reading people’s emotions but on the other hand, men are generally thought to be more confident and better at taking risks. All of these characteristics are important in the game of poker so it is hard to tell which gender will be better at the game.
Poker is still a male-dominated game and there aren’t many signs that it would significantly change in the future. Online poker reduces the level of intimidation some women feel around men. It is hard to say if men or women are better at poker as both gender’s characteristics could help the gameplay but women are outnumbered 1 to 10.