Poker games rarely see women make an appearance, but there are quite a few female players out there, many of whom are the best in the world and make millions from the game. The fact that they are not considered part of the mainstream world of poker, along with their struggles and challenges in poker, is looked at in detail in a new movie that is now out on Amazon Prime Video, Poker Queens.
Poker Queens is directed by Sandra Mohr, who is a very good poker player in her own right, and features five female poker players, whose stories and journeys in the world of poker are interspersed with the director’s own experiences. It is revealing that even at the best vip casino online or at land-based casinos, we rarely see female poker players, and these women reveal that this is in large part down to the attitude of casino owners as well as their male counterparts at the table. Statistics show that female players account for just 7% of all professional poker players, and many men actively discourage women from pursuing the game, and ridicule those who do end up at the table. One sequence in the movie shows how a male player disparages his female counterpart after she plays a particular hand, saying that it was all about her ‘ego’, while being blissfully unaware of the irony in that statement.
The movie brings out the personalities of all five women, and reveals their motivation to try and succeed in such a male-dominated environment. It does not reduce them to eye candy for the men, and some of the players featured are the very best in the business. Loni Harwood, for example, is thought of as one of the best poker players in the world by many dealers, while Kristen Bicknell and Jennifer Tilly are also among the best in the business. This goes a long way in showing that the players’ gender has nothing to do with their level of skill, and that the female players are equal, or even better than their male counterparts, putting paid to the notion that women and their supposed emotional nature would make it difficult for them in a game like poker, where hiding one’s true emotions is vital to winning.
The director herself dresses up as a man to go undercover into a casino, and demonstrates the bias that exists, by winning almost three times the amount she would have won had she gone in as a woman. This move had drawn controversy as well, with the World Series of Poker has made it clear that any woman who was caught dressed as a man during their tournament would see their $10,000 buy-in confiscated, and they would also be banned from the event. This also goes to show the very visible bias, whether intended or sub-conscious, that exists even at the highest levels of the game, against women.
Published literature has shown that there are statistical anomalies that show up in the way women and men play poker, and this needs further research, rather than women being penalized just for their gender. Poker Queens is thus a raw, true look at what really goes on under the glitz and glamour of a poker game, and some of the footage, especially when undercover, goes a long way in exposing these biases. While that footage can seem a little annoying to watch, because of the poor quality of the audio and video, it is still important in terms of the issues it uncovers.
It is thus a must-watch for all poker fans, especially those men who think that women have no place at a poker table.