The WPT strives to create a more inclusive poker community, welcoming more female players

On International Women’s Day, we take a look at how poker brands are trying to encourage more women to participate.

Today is International Women’s Day and the World Poker Tour (WPT) reflects on its mission to boost female player participation. Although there is still a long way to go, the WPT has made great strides towards a more inclusive environment in the poker world.

Obstacles faced by female poker players

Even in 2022, the poker world is still not a very inclusive place. In a recent study by 888, many respondents said they felt discouraged from playing poker because of their gender. 45% said they had been bullied by a member of the opposite sex at the table, and 47% agree that casinos are intimidating for women.

While this sort of type of dynamic seems to be ingrained in the poker community, there are many initiatives that aim to make poker a game that welcomes everyone. By involving more women in poker and encouraging them while removing the barriers that keep women from feeling comfortable in poker rooms, the industry can achieve this.

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Last year, we saw the Women’s Poker Associate (WPA) launch the #RaiseItUp program, which certifies casinos that are committed to providing a safe space for female players. As part of the certification, casinos commit to having a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and abuse and providing awareness training to staff.

WPT seminars for women

Starting in 2018, the WPT began to hold poker seminars for female players. Atlantic City Borgata and Los Angeles Bicycle Casino were among the venues that invited women to pre-tournament poker workshops to offer strategy help.

They were popular with attendees, as the seminars provided them with the encouragement and confidence they needed to thrive in a male-dominated game. Thus, the brand decided to expand its reach to women online.

When this is Kate Stone has been recruited to the LearnWPT team. While Vanessa Selbst was already part of the initiative, Stone was more front and center in the coaching staff and this had a very positive effect on women’s participation in the WPT.

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“Since the addition of Katie Stone to the LearnWPT team last year, we have absolutely seen an increase in female interaction in our community of online training members, on social media platforms and during the WPT event tour” – says Adrian Naggy, CEO of LearnWPT.

Future plans for the Women’s Poker Summit

The first-ever WPT Women’s Poker Summit really spearheaded the brand’s new commitment to making the poker community a more inclusive place. Led by Angelica Hael, the event attracted 50 participants who shared ideas on how to bring more women into the game. They came up with a number of ideas such as

  • Introduce funding programs where women support women
  • Organize tournaments with finite end times to facilitate planning
  • Shining a light on more female role models in poker

Of course, it will take time to implement these kinds of plans, and the pandemic has turned things upside down; however, 2022 will see the WPT continue to strive to create a more inclusive poker community.

Hael said that a second Women’s Poker Summit will take place later this year. It will take place in the fall or winter, and we will provide you with more details as they are released.

I’m thrilled to see the poker community promoting greater player involvement. Now that poker rooms have largely reopened across the country, it will be great to see how different brands are working to bring more women into the game.