Twenty-two players at the EPT Deauville Ladies event this week had suspiciously large Adam’s apples.
Some of them even had big hairy hands and nostril hair. Something was amiss. The poker world rolled its eyes in exasperation when it learned the truth: that a quarter of the entrants were, in fact, not women at all.
Far from it. They were the opposite.
In fact, one such “man,” the improbably named Derkx Olivier, actually won the event, making many question why men are even allowed out in polite society these days. That being said, ladies events have a long history of being infiltrated by the male of the species, sometimes in drag, although this is the first time we can recall quite such a large percentage of machismo in the field.
Casinos are generally powerless to stop men entering these events because, as commercial businesses, they are not permitted to discriminate on the basis of gender, or anything else for that matter. WSOP, however, largely handled this problem by implementing a different entry fee structure for men last year, charging women the usual $1K, and men, a much heftier $10K entry fee.
Some guys reportedly enter ladies events because they think it’s hilarious in a frattish kind of way. Some do it, they claim, for “menist” reasons (which apparently is a thing now); they say they are making a political point, about reverse discrimination.
But they are missing the point.
Annie Duke once said that ladies events should be scrapped, because she felt they were condescending; there’s no reason why a woman can’t play poker as well as man, she argued. She’s right, but she is also missing the point.
We all want more women playing tournament poker. Currently, the percentage of women making up the fields are tiny, usually well below five percent. Women are turned off by these overwhelmingly male-dominated fields, while ladies events give them the opportunity to play the game in a more comfortable environment. They can be relaxed. They can have fun.
Yes, ladies events are fun for women, and thus the men who infiltrate them are mean-spirited killjoys. Their presence there makes women feel they are being mocked, and they often are. No wonder they stop coming.
Victoria Coren, a woman who has proved more than once that she can hold her own against any male or female poker player out there and who usually has a thing or two to say about these things, spoke to Poker News after the Deauville event.
“Theirs was a stupid and meaningless political point,” she said. “It was just greed. They think women don’t play that well and they go to play against them because they are greedy. But that can work only for one time because then ladies events will then get canceled and the game will stay as male-dominated as it is today.
“Whether it’s the men playing the women’s event or the young people playing at the senior event, I would say this: if you have looked around at the whole world, and you are looking for injustice, and you are looking for ways to stand up and make an important point of principle to make the world a better place,Â a poker tournament is not it.”