Homer Simpson facepalm

Some Men Need to Get Over Themselves and Get Out of Ladies Events

You have probably heard about the European Poker Tour Deauville Women’s Event by now. Not normally a particularly newsworthy tournament, it has garnered the attention of the poker world because of the 83 participants, 22 were men. Something like this happens every year. It has to stop.

There is absolutely no excuse for men to infiltrate a ladies event. None. But as an exercise, let’s have a look at some of the excuses men often make for being assholes and signing up for tournaments that are meant for women only.

“All women? It’s an incredibly soft field. Playing in it is totally +EV for me.”

So let me make sure I understand. You suck so much at poker that you can’t hack it in one of the other 40+ tournaments on the schedule, necessitating an unwelcome entrance into the “softest” event? You must be proud.

But the whole idea behind ladies events being soft is a fallacy, anyway. It’s not that they aren’t; they very likely are quite soft when compared to other tournaments at the same festival. But the chauvinists who think this way are almost always thinking that women are inferior to men, that women are poor poker players. That is far from the truth. By their very nature, ladies events are going to be soft, but not because women are playing. It is because many (most?) of the players (who happen to women) are not very experienced; they are participating to have fun, to play some poker with like-minded women who want to take a break from being the only one of their gender at the table. Ladies events are generally geared towards women who might not normally play in an open event, so naturally those women are not going to be as skilled as the average player in a different tournament.

Additionally, because it is not an open event, it is not going to be as densely packed with top pros as other tournaments. You won’t see Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, or any other elite, male player in a ladies event. So again, by nature, when you exclude half of the population, there simply won’t be as many good players involved.

Yeah, ladies event fields are probably softer than others, but the thought process for most men who want to take advantage is almost purely chauvinist bullshit.

Women’s events are discriminatory. What not have a men’s-only event? I am standing up for my rights as a poker player and as a man.

Yes, please tell me about all the hardships the male gender has had to go through in human history, how women have had all the advantages in society. EVERY poker tournament is a men’s tournament. Respecting a woman’s wish to have one tournament of her own is the least we men can do.

Poker has always been a good old boys’ club. Throughout poker history, card rooms, casinos, saloons, everywhere that poker has been played has been dominated by men. Poker is synonymous with guys getting together for a reason.

Spare me your false sense of oppression. Stop trying to make people believe you, a man, are the victim. You’re not.

“Ladies events are insulting to women. Women have been fighting for equality for generations – if they know they are as good as men, they shouldn’t need their own, separate tournament. By playing, I am supporting women.”

[rolls eyes] Oh, come onnnnnnn.

It is not that women need their own tournament, it’s that they want their own tournament.

As mentioned above, the world of poker has always been a good, old boys’ club. The poker table has not been a place where women usually feel comfortable. Not because they can’t play, but because they feel like outsiders, they are made to feel inferior. I’ll let successful poker player, Victoria Coren-Mitchell, explain from a 2012 blog post:

Some women prefer to go to a women-only gym, or go out for drinks at night with a group of only girlfriends. It’s the same kind of idea, about feeling relaxed; they don’t mind going to the gym with fitter women, or drinking with women who get drunk slower than they do. It’s about a girls’ day out. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, or shouldn’t be allowed.

Vicky Coren-Mitchell Winning her 2nd PokerStars EPT Title

Vicky Coren-Mitchell Winning her 2nd PokerStars EPT Title

It’s no different than a group of guys having a boy’s night where they have some beers, watch a football game, and tell dirty jokes. My wife doesn’t begrudge me that and I would never begrudge her the desire to play in a women’s poker tournament (if she played). Uncivilized men just feel weird about it because they are so used to every tournament being a defacto men’s tournament that they can’t wrap their Neanderthal brains around the idea of a poker room full of women.

Coren-Mitchell adds, “You want to try being the only woman in a poker game in 1998? I had men looking down my top and putting their hands up my skirt. But it wasn’t all good news – I also had them telling me women were too stupid to play, asking why I wasn’t out looking for a husband, telling me I didn’t belong there…”

So forgive women for wanting a tournament in which they can have some fun, to enjoy some camaraderie with other women, without having to worry about me ogling them or ridiculing them or treating them like idiots. I’ll give Victoria Coren Mitchell the floor one more time, from a blog post in which she discusses the WSOP Ladies Event:

…it’s still peopled with the mothers and wives and women in novelty poker earrings that used to make up the entire field (back when it used to run on Mothers’ Day, in the days when you’d see 0 women in the other big events, whereas these days you see… ooh, often as many as five) and it’s just… it’s just lovely. There are now 61 events in the World Series of Poker, not counting second-chances and satellites and deep stacks and God knows what else; I love it that this unique, lively, sociable, light-hearted novelty event still survives. It’s one of the few things from the old days that does.

“Come on, it’s funny.”

No, it’s not. Who do you think is going to laugh with you? Surely not the women at your table. They are all insulted. Most men think you’re a shithead, too.

Story time. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from my son’s teacher, saying he had an “incident” in the morning. Apparently, he stabbed a girl in the arm with a pencil. Now, my kid is a good boy, a “joy to have in class,” as the teacher wrote on his last report card, so I knew before I learned any details that he had no malicious intent. Turned out the girl was fine, he didn’t break the skin, the teacher talked to him, all is well. When my wife and I asked him what happened, he at first said he couldn’t explain why he did it, but then said that he thought it would be funny.

I bring this up because it bears some similarity to the 22 men entering the EPT Deauville Women’s Event. Some of them probably thought it would be funny. But why? In what way would it be funny? The difference, though, between them and my son is that MY SON IS IN FUCKING KINDERGARTEN. He, along with every other five and six-year old, has a lot of dumb-ass things rattling around in his head. Grown men who are intelligent enough to play competitive poker, should not.

There was once a time where this sort of behavior may have been considered amusing. Back in the day, a group of friends composed of Phil Gordon, Rafe Furst, Perry Friedman, and a few others dressed in drag and entered the Bay 101 ladies event. I’m not exactly sure why, but from everything I’ve heard, people thought they were funny. Maybe it’s because they were the “Tiltboys,” the cool kids of the nascent poker boom. Maybe it’s because they weren’t taking themselves seriously, they weren’t trying to take some misguided stand. But today, that sort of act has gotten old.

Crashing a women’s tournament is at best annoying and at worst hurtful. Be a decent human being.

In a bit on his show, Late Night host Seth Meyers said recently, “There are basically three things you have to do to be a helpful part of society: pay taxes, vaccinate your kids, and don’t try to board the plane until your group is called.”

I would like to propose an addendum: and don’t enter a women’s poker tournament if you have a penis.

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