Top 5 Female Poker Players

Poker is a game that has captivated millions of people around the world. From casual players to high-stakes professionals, poker offers a thrilling mix of skill, luck, and psychology. But while poker is widely popular, it is also a game that has been historically dominated by men. Women have faced many challenges and barriers to enter and succeed in the poker world, often facing discrimination, harassment, and stereotypes. However, despite these obstacles, some women have risen to the top of the game and proved themselves as formidable opponents and champions. In this article, we will look at the top five female poker players of all time, based on their tournament winnings, achievements, and impact on the game. We will also explore the common traits that make them successful, the importance of representation for women in poker, and the future prospects for female players.

The Evolution of Women in Poker

Poker has been around for centuries, but it was not until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that women started to play the game more openly. In the Old West, women like Alice Ivers (also known as Poker Alice) and Lottie Deno were notorious gamblers who frequented saloons and card rooms. They often had to disguise themselves as men or face hostility and violence from male players. In the 1920s and 1930s, women like Mayme Stocker and Eleanor Dumont ran their own casinos and poker rooms, catering to a more diverse and sophisticated clientele. They also had to deal with legal issues and social stigma, as gambling was often seen as immoral and illegal.

In the 1970s and 1980s, women started to enter more mainstream poker tournaments, such as the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the World Poker Tour (WPT). They faced many challenges, such as lower prize pools, fewer opportunities, and sexist attitudes. However, they also made some breakthroughs, such as Barbara Freer becoming the first woman to enter an open WSOP event in 1979, Barbara Enright becoming the first woman to win a WSOP bracelet in an open event in 1986, and Linda Johnson becoming the first woman to win a WPT event in 2002. These pioneers paved the way for future generations of female players.

In the 2000s and 2010s, women’s presence in poker increased significantly, thanks to the online poker boom, the media exposure, and the growing popularity of the game. Women like Vanessa Selbst, Kathy Liebert, Annette Obrestad, Maria Ho, Liv Boeree, and many others achieved remarkable success in various tournaments and cash games. They also became role models and ambassadors for women in poker, inspiring more female participation and recognition.

Vanessa Selbst: The Modern Day Maverick

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Vanessa Selbst is widely regarded as one of the best female poker players of all time. She is also one of the most successful poker players overall, with over $11 million in live tournament earnings. She is ranked second on the all-time female money list, behind only Kathy Liebert. She is also the only woman to have ever reached the number one position on the Global Poker Index, a worldwide ranking of poker players.

Selbst was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1984. She graduated from Yale University with a degree in political science in 2005. She then pursued a law degree from Yale Law School, graduating in 2012. She worked as a civil rights lawyer for a brief period before focusing on her poker career.

Selbst started playing poker online when she was in college. She quickly rose through the ranks and became one of the most feared online players. She also transitioned to live tournaments with great success. She won her first WSOP bracelet in 2008 in a $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event. She then won two more bracelets in 2012 and 2014, both in $2,500 Mixed-Max No-Limit Hold’em events. She is one of only four women to have won three or more WSOP bracelets.

Selbst also excelled in other major tournaments, such as the European Poker Tour (EPT), the North American Poker Tour (NAPT), and the Partouche Poker Tour (PPT). She won two EPT titles: one in Sanremo in 2010 and one in Prague in 2013. She also won two NAPT titles: one in Mohegan Sun in 2010 and one in Uncasville in 2011. She also won the PPT Main Event in Cannes in 2010, earning her biggest payday of $1.82 million.

Selbst is known for her aggressive and fearless style of play. She is not afraid to bluff, raise, or call with any two cards. She is also very versatile and adaptable, playing different formats and variants of poker. She is also very intelligent and analytical, applying her legal skills and logic to the game.

Selbst retired from poker in 2018, citing various reasons, such as the stress, the travel, and the desire to pursue other interests. She currently works as a hedge fund manager at Bridgewater Associates, an investment firm. She is also an advocate for social justice and equality, supporting various causes and organizations.

Selbst’s impact and legacy on poker are undeniable. She has shown that women can compete and win at the highest level of the game, against the toughest opponents. She has also inspired many other female players to follow her footsteps and pursue their poker dreams.

Kathy Liebert: The Pioneer

Kathy Liebert

Kathy Liebert is one of the most respected and accomplished female poker players of all time. She has amassed over $6.8 million in live tournament earnings, making her the all-time female money leader. She has also won one WSOP bracelet and made six WPT final tables.

Liebert was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1967. She graduated from Marist College with a degree in business and finance in 1989. She then worked as a business analyst for Dun & Bradstreet, a data and analytics company. She also started playing poker as a hobby, visiting local casinos and card rooms.

Liebert quit her job in 1994 to pursue poker full-time. She moved to Colorado, where she became a prop player, playing poker for the house in exchange for an hourly wage. She also started playing in tournaments, traveling across the country and the world.

Liebert’s breakthrough came in 2002, when she won the first Party Poker Million event, a $8,000 Limit Hold’em tournament on a cruise ship. She beat a field of 546 players to win $1 million, becoming the first woman to win a seven-figure prize in poker history.

Liebert continued to rack up impressive results in various tournaments, especially at the WSOP and the WPT. She won her first and only WSOP bracelet in 2004, in a $1,500 Limit Hold’em Shootout event. She also made six WPT final tables, finishing as high as second place twice: once at the Bay 101 Shooting Star in 2009 and once at the Borgata Poker Open in 2005.

Liebert is known for her solid and consistent style of play. She is proficient in both limit and no-limit hold’em, as well as other variants of poker. She is also very patient and disciplined, waiting for the right spots to make her moves.

Liebert was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame in 2010, along with Billie Brown. She is widely regarded as one of the pioneers and trailblazers for women in poker, paving the way for future generations of female players.

Annette Obrestad: Young Prodigy

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Annette Obrestad is one of the most talented and successful female poker players of all time. She is also one of the youngest, having started playing online poker when she was just 15 years old. She has earned over $3.9 million in live tournament earnings, most of which came before she turned 21.

Obrestad was born in Sandnes, Norway in 1988. She learned to play poker from watching online videos and reading forums. She started playing online under the screen name “Annette_15”, using her allowance money to fund her bankroll. She quickly became one of the most feared online players, winning millions of dollars and numerous titles.

Obrestad made history in 2007, when she won the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) Main Event in London, just one day before her 19th birthday. She beat a field of 362 players to win £1 million (about $2 million), becoming the youngest person ever to win a WSOP bracelet. She also became the first woman to win a WSOP Main Event title, albeit not the original one held in Las Vegas.

Obrestad continued to dominate both online and live tournaments, winning several more titles and awards. Some of her notable achievements include winning an online tournament while playing almost blindfolded, finishing second in an Aussie Millions event for A$1 million, winning two Full Tilt Poker majors on the same day, and making two EPT final tables.

Obrestad is known for her aggressive and fearless style of play. She is not afraid to bluff, raise, or call with any two cards. She is also very creative and unpredictable, often switching gears and changing strategies. She is also very confident and competitive, always looking for an edge and a challenge.

Obrestad has been less active in poker in recent years, citing various reasons, such as the lack of motivation, the difficulty of traveling, and the changes in the game. She currently lives in Las Vegas , where she occasionally plays in cash games and tournaments. She is also interested in other hobbies, such as photography and fitness.

Obrestad’s influence on poker is undeniable. She has shown that age is not a factor in poker success, and that women can compete and win against the best players in the world. She has also inspired many other young players to pursue their poker dreams.

Maria Ho: Consistency is Key

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Maria Ho is one of the most consistent and successful female poker players of all time. She has earned over $4.3 million in live tournament earnings , making her the fourth-highest female money earner . She has also made five WSOP final tables and three WPT final tables.

Ho was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1983. She moved to the United States with her family when she was four years old. She grew up in Arcadia, California, where she excelled in academics and extracurricular activities. She graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in communications and a minor in law . She then planned to attend law school, but decided to pursue poker instead.

Ho started playing poker with her friends in college. She then moved to online poker, where she honed her skills and built her bankroll. She also started playing in live tournaments, traveling across the country and the world.

Ho’s breakthrough came in 2007, when she finished second in a WSOP Circuit event at Harrah’s Rincon , winning $344,000. She then made her first WSOP final table later that year, finishing sixth in a $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event . She also made her first WPT final table that year, finishing third at the Bay 101 Shooting Star .

Ho continued to rack up impressive results in various tournaments, especially at the WSOP and the WPT. She made four more WSOP final tables , finishing as high as second place twice: once in a $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event in 2011 and once in a $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em event in 2014 . She also made two more WPT final tables , finishing as high as third place at the Five Diamond World Poker Classic in 2016 .

Ho is known for her solid and balanced style of play. She is proficient in both no-limit and limit hold’em, as well as other variants of poker. She is also very patient and disciplined, waiting for the right spots to make her moves.

Ho is also an ambassador for poker, promoting the game to a wider audience. She has appeared on various TV shows, such as The Amazing Race , American Idol , and Celebrity Apprentice . She has also hosted and commentated on various poker shows, such as Poker Night in America , The Final Table , and High Stakes Poker .

Ho was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame in 2018 , along with Lupe Soto. She is widely regarded as one of the most consistent and successful female players of all time.

Liv Boeree: The Combination of Brains and Cards

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Liv Boeree is one of the most intelligent and accomplished female poker players of all time. She has earned over $3.8 million in live tournament earnings , making her the fifth-highest female money earner . She has also won one WSOP bracelet and one EPT title.

Boeree was born in Maidstone, England in 1984. She graduated from the University of Manchester with a first-class degree in astrophysics . She then worked as a TV presenter and model, hosting various shows on science, technology, and music.

Boeree learned to play poker from watching TV shows like Late Night Poker . She then entered a reality show called Ultimatepoker.com Showdown in 2005, where she received coaching from top pros like Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke. She then started playing online and live tournaments, improving her skills and results.

Boeree’s breakthrough came in 2010, when she won the EPT Sanremo Main Event , beating a field of 1,240 players to win €1.25 million (about $1.7 million). She became the third woman to win an EPT title, after Victoria Coren and Sandra Naujoks.

Boeree continued to excel in various tournaments, especially at the WSOP and the EPT. She won her first and only WSOP bracelet in 2017 , in a $10,000 Tag Team No-Limit Hold’em event, along with her partner Igor Kurganov. She also made three more EPT final tables , finishing as high as third place at the EPT Barcelona High Roller in 2015 .

Boeree is known for her analytical and rational style of play. She applies her scientific and mathematical knowledge to the game, using game theory and probability to make optimal decisions. She is also very calm and composed, handling pressure and variance with ease.

Boeree is also an advocate for various causes, such as effective altruism, rationality, and science education. She co-founded Raising for Effective Giving , a charity that encourages poker players to donate a percentage of their winnings to effective causes. She also co-hosts The Mind Field , a podcast that explores various topics related to science, philosophy, and psychology.

Boeree was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame in 2020 , along with Jennifer Harman. She is widely regarded as one of the most intelligent and accomplished female players of all time.

The Common Traits of Successful Female Poker Players

The top five female poker players of all time have different backgrounds, personalities, and styles of play. However, they also share some common traits that make them successful in the game. Some of these traits are:

  • Resilience in the face of adversity: All of these players have faced many challenges and obstacles in their poker careers, such as discrimination, harassment, stereotypes, and bad beats. However, they have not let these factors deter them from pursuing their goals and dreams. They have shown courage, determination, and perseverance in overcoming these difficulties and proving themselves as worthy competitors.
  • Strategic minds and emotional intelligence: All of these players have demonstrated high levels of intelligence and logic in their game play. They have used their analytical skills and knowledge to make optimal decisions based on the available information. They have also shown emotional intelligence in managing their emotions and reading their opponents’ emotions. They have been able to balance risk and reward, aggression and patience, confidence and humility.
  • Adaptability in a rapidly evolving game: All of these players have been able to adapt to the changing landscape of poker over the years. They have kept up with the latest trends, strategies, and technologies in the game. They have also diversified their skills and experience by playing different formats and variants of poker. They have been able to adjust their game plan according to the situation and the opponent.

The Importance of Representation: Women in Poker Today

Women have come a long way in poker since the early days of the game. They have achieved remarkable success and recognition in various tournaments and cash games. They have also increased their presence and participation in the poker community.

However, women still face many challenges and barriers in poker today. Women are still underrepresented and undervalued in the game. Women make up only about 5% of the WSOP entrants and about 7% of the online poker players . Women also face lower prize pools, fewer opportunities, and sexist attitudes from some male players.

Therefore, it is important to promote more representation for women in poker today. Representation matters because it can:

  • Encourage more female participation: Seeing more women succeed and enjoy poker can inspire more women to join and play the game. It can also create a more welcoming and supportive environment for women in poker.
  • Break stereotypes: Showing that women can play poker at a high level can challenge the stereotypes that women are inferior or incapable of playing poker. It can also dispel the myths that poker is a male-only or male-dominated game.
  • Create role models: Having more female role models can motivate and empower more women to pursue their poker goals and dreams. It can also provide guidance and mentorship for aspiring female players.

The Future Prospects: What’s Next for Women in Poker?

Women have made significant progress and contributions in poker over the years. However, there is still room for improvement and growth for women in poker.

Some of the possible ways to enhance the future prospects for women in poker are:

  • Creating more opportunities: Providing more opportunities for women to play poker can increase their exposure and experience in the game. This can include creating more female-only or female-friendly tournaments, events, clubs, or platforms.
  • Providing more support: Offering more support for women in poker can enhance their skills and confidence in the game. This can include providing more coaching, training, education, or resources for female players.
  • WPT Ladies Event: This is an occasional event at the WPT that is open only to women. It has a $300 buy-in and a no-limit hold’em format. It was first held in 2008 and has been won by some of the most successful female players, such as Maria Ho, J.J. Liu, and Nancy Todd Tyner.
  • EPT Women’s Event: This is a regular event at the EPT that is open only to women. It has a €300 buy-in and a no-limit hold’em format. It was first held in 2009 and has been won by some of the most talented female players, such as Liv Boeree, Sandra Naujoks, and Annette Obrestad.Celebrating more achievements: Recognizing more that is open only to women. It has a $1,000 buy-in and a no-limit hold’em format. It was first held in 1977 and has been won by some of the most famous female players, such as Barbara Enright, Jennifer Harman, Annie Duke, and Vanessa Selbst.

These tournaments are designed to provide more opportunities and recognition for women in poker. They also create a more friendly and supportive environment for female players. However, some critics argue that these tournaments are unnecessary or discriminatory, as they segregate women from men and imply that women need special treatment or protection in poker.

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Posted by: Valerii B.

Valerii B. is a passionate gambling aficionado and online gaming expert based in the beautiful country of New Zealand. With a deep-rooted fascination for casino games and sports betting, Valerii has accumulated invaluable years of experience in the ever-evolving iGaming industry. As a renowned contributor to Gamblorium, Valerii draws from his extensive knowledge to provide insightful reviews, in-depth analysis, and compelling articles on the latest trends and events in the world of online gambling.