Male-Dominated No More – Will The Future See More Female Poker Players?

Despite making up half of the world’s population, only 5% of professional poker players are women, according to the latest statistics. Indeed, traditionally poker is a male-dominated game. However, recent research has proven that the proverbial tables are slowly, but surely turning. For starters, online poker already seems to be more popular amongst female players. This begs the question, why is the online interface more appealing to women? And how is it that in 2023, a level of gender imbalance still exists when it comes to gambling? Ultimately, is there any potential for further narrowing the gender divide? Let’s unpack these questions bit by bit.

Poker Back In The Days

When we take a closer look at the history of poker, it’s clear that a lot of external factors have influenced the game’s evolution over the years. Because, really and truly there’s nothing inherently masculine or feminine about the game itself. Yet, somehow poker has still been considered as a “man’s game”. 

Definitely, the psychosocial element has played a huge role in excluding women from the game. Women who played were essentially defying the social norms and gender expectations of the time, which left them open to harassment and other forms of prejudice. It is no surprise, therefore, that many women felt excluded from playing, and this was further reinforced by targeted advertising campaigns that primarily focused on male players.

Despite all these challenges, we’ve seen some incredibly successful female poker players emerge over the years, like Vanessa Selbst, Liv Boeree, and Annie Duke. What’s truly remarkable about these players is that they’ve been vocal about the gender bias they faced, yet they’ve still managed to achieve great success in the game.

Has Anything Changed Since Then?

Although we’ve come a long way when it comes to gender equality, a degree of gender imbalance still exists in many industries, to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the culture in question. The gambling scene is a case in point.

A factor that hasn’t changed much is the way we view women as responsible for child-rearing. A respondent in a recent study highlighted how ironic it is that husbands can travel to play poker, but if a woman does that, it’s often frowned upon.

Data also suggests that men typically have more time than women to engage in leisure activities, not to mention the psychological factors that come into play, such as the fact that men are known to be less risk-averse than women.

That being said, the poker scene does seem to be making some progress in terms of female representation. For instance, we’ve seen a 22% increase in female poker players across Britain over the last 2 years. That’s definitely a step in the right direction.

So why are more women getting into poker? According to a recent survey, 58% of female poker players cited the social and fun aspects of the game as their main motivation for playing. Another 37% play it because they find it easy to learn, which is always a plus. There were also a number of women (33%) who play poker because they see it as a consistent and profitable way to make money.

Furthermore, with online poker gaining ground, it is encouraging to see that we’re being faced by a shift in player demographics. Research shows that nearly one-third of new player buy-ins are from female players. This preference for the online interface may stem from the intimidation factor of the live setting that is typically found in situations where one gender dominates. Since online poker offers anonymity, the issue of watching one’s body language as well as the hurdles of face-to-face interaction are automatically eliminated, and this may be a major contributor to the significant difference in the ratio of men to women in online and live games.

Whatever the reasons for the growth of female representation in poker may be, we should celebrate the fact that the social and entertainment value of the game is drawing more women in. It’s also encouraging to see that some women are finding poker to be a potentially lucrative activity, and that more women are feeling comfortable enough to join the poker table.

Is There Any Hope For Further Narrowing The Gender Divide In The Future? 

You may have noticed that, over the past couple of years, there’s been a lot of focus on trying to attract more women to poker. It’s a big deal in the industry because having more female players would not only bring in new blood to the game but also help improve its image. Despite this, we still have a long way to go before women can truly feel like poker is a game they can truly feel part of.

So, what can be done to further increase female representation at the poker table? Perhaps the industry can start by addressing the marketing strategy, in a way that advertising is more female-centered, with an emphasis on showcasing the fun of poker to women. We need to bring interesting stories of female poker players to the fore; we require a welcoming and guided environment for newbies, and it is also important to nurture a sisterly environment where women can support and learn from each other. Additionally, organizing more female-oriented tournaments and spotlighting women in various levels of the poker industry can go a long way in encouraging more women to play.

Final Thoughts 

All in all, while we still have a ways to go when it comes to creating a more equitable playing field for all poker players, the success of top female players and the increase in online poker female players give us hope for a more inclusive future.