Women in the Casino: Breaking Stereotypes and Making History

Women in the Casino: Breaking Stereotypes and Making History

The world of gambling and casinos has long been perceived as male-dominated. However, over the years, women have slowly but surely carved a niche for themselves in this realm. 

Despite facing several challenges and stereotypes, women have broken the glass ceiling and emerged as successful players, dealers, and even entrepreneurs in brick-and-mortar; they also conquered online casinos such as OKBet. This shift has not only shattered traditional gender roles but also created a space for women to make history and prove their mettle in a field that was once considered exclusively male. 

In this context, exploring the role of women in the casino and how they have broken stereotypes to make their mark is a fascinating and important topic to delve into.

But before we begin, let us look deeper into the past and find out how women can also be dominant in gambling.

Fortuna, The Roman Goddess of Gambling

Yes, the one who decides the fate of gamblers is a woman—Fortuna. She is the Roman goddess of chance and was considered the bearer of prosperity and increase. 

The Romans regarded her as an oracle, a deity that could predict a person’s future. To be bountiful when gambling, they pray for her and try to earn her favor.

Since 735 B.C., women were allowed to gamble, although only on certain occasions like the festival Bona Dea. But when Emperor Nero sat on the throne in A.D. 54, the females gained a little bit of freedom as they were allowed to participate in more public activities.

The Women of the Wild West

The gold rush in the mid-19th century in the United States brought many people to the West Coast. Their pastime was none other than…gambling. Poker was the main game, and many players spent hours in saloons playing the game.

Though the Wild West saloons were commonly filled with men, women were allowed to gamble, paving the way to the greatest female pokers of the Wild West.

Poker Alice

Poker Alice, whose real name was Alice Ivers Duffield Tubbs Huckert, was a famous late 19th to the early 20th-century poker player. She was born in England in 1851 before migrating to the United States with her family. 

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She grew up in Virginia City, Nevada, and learned to play poker in her early twenties. Alice quickly became known for her skills at the poker table and started playing professionally.

Alice was a formidable opponent who could hold her own against any man. She was known for her cool-headedness, quick wit, and ability to read her opponents. She played in many high-stakes games and became a legend in the Wild West. 

She traveled all over the country, playing in saloons and gambling halls, and even ran her own illegal gambling house in South Dakota for a time.

Her reputation for being a tough and successful poker player was only one part of her colorful life. She was also married three times and had several children. Despite her involvement in gambling and the rough-and-tumble world of the Wild West, Alice was known for her kindness and generosity toward others. She died in 1930 at the age of 79, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most famous and respected poker players of her time.

Lottie Deno

Lottie Deno, whose real name was Carlotta J. Thompkins, was a famous gambler in the American West during the late 19th century. She was born in Kentucky in 1844 and later moved to Texas with her family.

Lottie became involved in gambling after she moved to Fort Griffin, Texas, where she met and fell in love with a gambler named Frank Thurmond. Together, they became a formidable team, traveling all over the West and winning large sums of money in various gambling establishments.

She was known for her beauty, intelligence, and sharp wit, which she used to her advantage at the poker table, particularly at playing poker and faro. Her success in these games earned her the nickname “The Poker Queen.” 

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Lottie was also known for her fearless and independent spirit, which was rare for a woman in the 19th century.

Despite her involvement in gambling, Lottie was respected by many of her contemporaries for her honesty and fairness. She was also known for her generosity, often using her winnings to help others in need. 

In the 1880s, she retired from gambling following Frank’s death. She eventually settled in New Mexico with her second husband, George Julian. She died in 1934 at the age of 90, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most famous and successful female gamblers of the Wild West era.

These two women have made a mark in the Wild West as legendary poker players, but there were also others that followed in their footsteps, beginning to make a name for themselves.

Barbara Freer

Tired of being limited to playing in women-only tournaments, Barbara Freer became the first female poker player to enter the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and competed against male players. In 1979, she became a WSOP champion in the $400 Ladies – Limit.

Annie Duke

Raised in a family of card players, Annie Duke was a degree holder in psychology and was on her way to getting a doctoral degree. However, she had other plans.

Before completing her Ph.D., Duke pursued a career in poker, and she quickly found success in it. In 2004, she won her first WSOP bracelet in 2004 and went on to win four more bracelets throughout her career. She also won the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship in 2010.

Her most notable contribution to gambling was through her writings and public speaking appearances. She has authored several books on poker strategy, including “Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts,” a New York Times bestseller. Annie Duke has also frequently commented on televised poker events and has appeared on popular TV shows like “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Vanessa Selbst

Vanessa Selbst is the only woman to have claimed the number one ranking in the Global Poker Index, even breaking the record for the highest earning in tournaments with $1.4 million.

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Having a degree in Political Science, Selbt was a poker player while studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Considered first a hobby, it dawned upon her that she could become a professional player, which is what she did—and she was successful.

Apart from making waves as a professional player, she was also an activist, advocating for gender equality and diversity in the poker industry. Selbst also taught at Yale Law School regarding poker and the law.

Upon announcing her retirement from poker in 2018, she was also inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.

Annette Obrestad

Introduced in the world of poker at the tender age of 15, Annette Obrestad, better known as “Annette_15,” became one of the world’s most notable online poker players.

She may even be considered a poker prodigy because prior to reaching 18, Obrestad was able to win millions of dollars in tournaments. 

After reaching 18, she was hailed as the youngest player to win a WSOP bracelet after dominating the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe Main Event.

Obrestad is considered the top online tournament poker player and is always present at some regular high-stakes online games.

Conclusion

Women have been breaking stereotypes and making history in the world of casino gaming for decades. From the trailblazing exploits of Poker Alice and Lottie Deno in the Wild West to the modern-day success of players like Vanessa Selbst and Annette Obrestad, women have repeatedly proven that they should not be underestimated at poker tables and beyond.

Despite facing significant barriers and discrimination in a historically male-dominated industry, female players have persevered and achieved remarkable success, challenging traditional gender roles and creating a way for future generations of women in gaming. 

We must continue to celebrate and support the accomplishments of women in casino gaming and work towards creating a more inclusive and diverse playing field for all.

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