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Old 11-06-2015, 06:23 PM   #1
Bike Crash
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Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

Cliffs: 1) All poker players are better served by expanding the player pool 2) Women are an underrepresented population 3) There are a number of things that can be done to a) make poker rooms more hospitable to women who do play and b) attract women to come play in the first place.

There has been a lot of discussion recently (and ranting, flaming, etc) in the poker community about the challenge of sexism in poker and how it affects women’s willingness to play. I think a lot of the debate going on completely misses a larger and more important point. What can be done to encourage more women to play poker? It should be obvious to everyone who plays poker that expanding the player pool is beneficial for the game.

Calling out sexist behavior and generally raising awareness of it in the community is necessary to make poker tables more hospitable. I don’t think there is much real debate about whether poker rooms can be unwelcoming environments for women. For those who want to object, I have three suggestions. First, look up the concept of microaggressions. Short version: when a man behaves differently because a woman is present, it reflects some level of innate bias, conscious or unconscious. Second, grasp the idea that the experiences of those affected by discriminatory or biased behavior are more likely to reflect reality than the claims of those acting out. There is room for debate at the margins and questions of sensitivity, but from my experience, and from reading or hearing about experiences from women who play, these types of behavior occur regularly. Given the disparity in numbers between men and women who play and that such behaviors are focused on a small percentage of the player pool, from women’s perspectives the behavior is probably unceasing. Third, understand that intent is irrelevant. It is not incumbent on women to determine the intentions of everything that is said or done to them. Actions speak much louder than what is going on inside someone’s head.

It seems to be correlated that men who don’t want to acknowledge that there is sexism in poker also believe that women are inferior players. Their ignorance may extend to other parts of how they think, but they should able to grasp the concept that if they believe women are inferior players, they should absolutely be encouraged to play more. Easy money, right? So learn to moderate your behavior to make the poker environment more appealing to women. Unless you feel somehow threatened by the mere presence of having women at the table, in which case you are beyond help.

Expanding the Number of Women Who Play Poker
This is the part of the discussion that I think has been largely ignored. One step is making poker rooms more hospitable, but the bigger question is how to attract more women to the poker room in the first place.

The highest profile women-focused poker event is probably the WSOP Ladies Event. It plays a symbolic role and attracted 795 participants this year, but it also largely serves a population of women that are already, at a minimum, fairly serious players.

I think real efforts to attract women to the game need to start at the level of individual poker rooms taking steps to actively bring women to the tables. Poker rooms serve relatively stable populations and are in positions to cultivate longer term relationships with their players, which offers the potential for making a serious impact. There may be other places where interventions to attract more women to poker may be effective, but, and this may reflect a lack of imagination on my part, I can’t think of any.

Taking steps to explicitly promote the game to women may engender some criticism or backlash, but I don’t see other ways to actively expand the player pool. As mentioned earlier, every poker player should be in favor of this.

The only argument that is likely to be persuasive to poker rooms is an economic one. I don’t have firm data on this, but I have seen numbers used in social media indicating that women make up 5% of the population either in poker rooms or in tournaments (I don’t remember exactly) and that they made up 30% of the population of online players. If this is true, then this is likely the most direct argument. At a minimum, half the population is dramatically underrepresented in poker rooms.

I have a number of ideas for things poker rooms can do, most of which require relatively little investment on their part. The key issue is for card rooms to actively promote the game to women.

No Waiting for Tables: At introductory stakes (likely $1-2 no limit, $3-6 or $4-8 limit, $1-2 or $2-2 PLO, etc), whenever a woman signs up for games that have a list, she automatically gets bumped to the top of the list. I think it is reasonable to assume that casual players are more likely to play at times that are likely to be busiest. If women know they won’t have to wait for tables, this should encourage them to play. Overall wait times for men should be essentially unaffected until women make up a much larger percentage of the player pool. And honestly, if they complain, ****’em.

Women’s Tournaments: Card rooms could host monthly or quarterly women-only tournaments. In order to cater to casual players, this would probably be most effective with a small buy-in and a relatively fast structure. Another option would be to make this a freeroll for women who play x amount of hours per month/quarter/year, with the option for others to buy in.

I have no idea how many players this might attract, but it would probably get women into the poker room more often. Casinos also probably have gender data on their players, so it wouldn’t be too hard to market women’s tournaments.

Having segregated tournaments does raise some issues, but if the overall goal is to foster participation, make women feel more comfortable in poker rooms, and progressively expand the player pool, it seems like the tradeoffs are worth it.

Promote Poker as a Social Activity: I’m making a few assumptions here that open to criticism, but I think women would be more likely to play poker if they know other women who play. From observing poker social media, it appears, for example, that women on the tournament circuit or at WSOP make a fairly conscious effort to seek out other women who play. I think this dynamic could be transferred to individual poker rooms, but would require some effort. Given how few women play poker at the moment, it seems reasonable that they are unlikely to encounter other women at the table or find easy avenues for forming friendships with other women who play. One possible solution would be for card rooms to organize events for women to meet each other, like a monthly cocktail hour or something similar.

Appoint Women as Room Ambassadors: This could have both symbolic and operational effects. Identifying successful women players and giving them roles as representatives could serve to highlight that poker rooms are supportive of women players. Ambassadors could also serve as hosts for women-in-poker activities and tournaments. Requiring more of an investment on their part, ambassadors might also agree to serve as sounding boards or communication points for other women players.

I’m sure there are other things that can be done to promote the game. I’m also sure I’ll get flamed relentlessly for this, and that most flamers will ignore the core argument I’m making, which is 1) all poker players are better served by expanding the player pool 2) women represent a dramatically underrepresented population 3) there are a number of things that can be done to a) make poker rooms more hospitable to women who do play and b) attract women to come play in the first place.
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Old 11-06-2015, 06:29 PM   #2
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

But no letting them wear baggy clothes at the table, how am I gonna check them out otherwise?

..just kidding. I think you bring up some good points that benefit everyone. Will elaborate when I'm not on my phone.
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Old 11-06-2015, 06:37 PM   #3
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

Yes adding more women to the player pool is a good thing

No, 'sexism' isn't the problem
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Old 11-06-2015, 06:38 PM   #4
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

Letting women jump the lists is a totally sexist idea.
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Old 11-06-2015, 06:39 PM   #5
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

another one of these threads,,, how about one actually started by a women,,,,,
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Old 11-06-2015, 06:41 PM   #6
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

I dont mind women waiting tables at all.
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Old 11-06-2015, 06:50 PM   #7
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

I'll be amazed if this thread gets to two pages without someone saying something terribly sexist.
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Old 11-06-2015, 06:51 PM   #8
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

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Originally Posted by bjsmith22 View Post
Yes adding more women to the player pool is a good thing

No, 'sexism' isn't the problem
What is, then?
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Old 11-06-2015, 06:56 PM   #9
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

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when a man behaves differently because a woman is present, it reflects some level of innate bias, conscious or unconscious. Second, grasp the idea that the experiences of those affected by discriminatory or biased behavior are more likely to reflect reality than the claims of those acting out.

This might be the stupidest thing ever written.

It isn't the job of the world around you to adjust to you. It's your job to adjust to it.

Newsflash: no one gives a flying **** about how their actions make you feel, unless you're really close to them.

The real and obvious solution here is for women who want to play poker to stop ****ing whining and just play. If it doesn't work out, oh well, it looks like you don't like live, casino poker.

I have never ever once met a person at a poker table that I didn't hate socializing with, but I want to play poker, so I do it and I don't whine about it to the world afterward.

Finally, To broadly generalize men as all acting the same way for the same reasons is the epitome of your ignorance.
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Old 11-06-2015, 06:57 PM   #10
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

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Originally Posted by Starflyer59 View Post
I'll be amazed if this thread gets to two pages without someone saying something terribly sexist.

that's because 'sexist' is poorly defined and people like you attempt to frame anything said critically of women as 'sexism'
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:00 PM   #11
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

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Originally Posted by bjsmith22 View Post
that's because 'sexist' is poorly defined and people like you attempt to frame anything said critically of women as 'sexism'
Oh. Okay. Noted.
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:03 PM   #12
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

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What is, then?
Live casino poker environments are not conducive to the presence of the average female. This is due in part to evolutionary aspects such as being more risk averse, less competitive and less confrontational. If you actually think about it, it's pretty obvious why there aren't more women in poker: It's a game that is on average liked more by men than women. Just like there aren't a lot of female American Football players or MMA fighters; these are things that are liked more by men, and the proportion of males to females participating is going to reflect that preference.

It is not the job of the men playing a game that they like to adjust their behaviour in order to accommodate the opposite sex, especially if having the other sex around doesn't offer any inherent value to the situation.
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:06 PM   #13
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

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Oh. Okay. Noted.

What's terribly sexist to you?

"Women are ****ing stupid and don't deserve to live"

That's terrible sexism to me, and no one ever says anything like that.
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:07 PM   #14
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

Sexism in not the problem. It's like when people say that STEM fields are sexist for not having more women. No, a majority of women simply don't have interest in STEM, just as a majority of men don't want to be a nurses or teachers which is around 85% women. Men and women have different interest. I would like to see more women in poker but I don't see it happening no matter how much poker rooms cater to them.
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:09 PM   #15
Bike Crash
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

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Originally Posted by bjsmith22 View Post
Live casino poker environments are not conducive to the presence of the average female. This is due in part to evolutionary aspects such as being more risk averse, less competitive, less confrontational. If you actually think about it, it's pretty obvious why there aren't more women in poker: It's a game that is on average liked more by men than women.

It is not the job of the men playing a game that they like to adjust their behaviour in order to accommodate the opposite sex, especially if having the other sex around doesn't offer any inherent value to the situation.
These data aren't solid, just what I've seen used, but if women were 30% of the online population and 5% of live poker room populations, that suggests there is something in the live poker environment that is strongly discouraging to women.

Having more of the other sex around offers a ton of value w/re: expanding the player pool and bringing more $ into the game. And some of us actually prefer a more mixed social environment.

Are you arguing that there are inherent reasons more women don't play poker and therefore no effort should be made to expand the player pool to include them?
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:14 PM   #16
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

I assume the OP has seen Mason's thread, but I do think the best thing that could be done to encourage more women to play is to promote limit games.
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:15 PM   #17
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

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Originally Posted by Bike Crash View Post
These data aren't solid, just what I've seen used, but if women were 30% of the online population and 5% of live poker room populations, that suggests there is something in the live poker environment that is strongly discouraging to women.
See my above post re men vs. women and confrontation. Online poker takes away this aspect and I assume would be the reason for the difference.
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Originally Posted by Bike Crash View Post
Having more of the other sex around offers a ton of value w/re: expanding the player pool and bringing more $ into the game. And some of us actually prefer a more mixed social environment.
No, I don't think it does, because of...
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Are you arguing that there are inherent reasons more women don't play poker and therefore no effort should be made to expand the player pool to include them?
Yes, that is precisely what I'm arguing. You're trying to fit a square block into a circle hole.

Men will always like live poker a lot more than women and will thus almost always dominate the proportion to women in poker rooms.
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:16 PM   #18
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

women do not make up 30% of the online player base

Last edited by Plane-Arium; 11-06-2015 at 07:16 PM. Reason: i'd wager around 2%
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:17 PM   #19
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

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I assume the OP has seen Mason's thread, but I do think the best thing that could be done to encourage more women to play is to promote limit games.
Yes, this. Limit takes a lot of perceived risk away and thus makes the game much friendlier to women.

Unfortunately limit is boring as **** and will never be the staple game of a booming economy. You're better off keeping holdem and continuing to have games dominated by men.
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:24 PM   #20
Bike Crash
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

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Originally Posted by Tiltmonkey2 View Post
Sexism in not the problem. It's like when people say that STEM fields are sexist for not having more women. No, a majority of women simply don't have interest in STEM, just as a majority of men don't want to be a nurses or teachers which is around 85% women. Men and women have different interest. I would like to see more women in poker but I don't see it happening no matter how much poker rooms cater to them.
How much of that is due to the various types of discouragement women encounter along the way? And is the solution to simply say "Eh, biology" (which is completely reductive) instead of trying to expand the field to include more women?

There was a groundbreaking study on discrimination in STEM fields conducted at MIT in the late 1990s that demonstrated significant discrimination against women in a number of ways, including office space, funding, grad assistants, and salary. Almost none of these were the result of individual conscious decisions but were found to be the result of ingrained institutional sexism.
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:29 PM   #21
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

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Originally Posted by Bike Crash View Post
How much of that is due to the various types of discouragement women encounter along the way? And is the solution to simply say "Eh, biology" (which is completely reductive) instead of trying to expand the field to include more women?
Classic feminist ignorance.

People being themselves and women not liking them is called "various types of discouragement women encounter". I'm sorry other people make you feel discouraged. Maybe make better choices about who you hang out around.

Quote:
"Eh, biology" (which is completely reductive)
No, it's not actually. It's factual and scientific. The facts and science say it's not worth making the poker environment less good for men in order to make it more good for women. Sorry. Blame the statistics, not men.

Last edited by bjsmith22; 11-06-2015 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:32 PM   #22
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

bjsmith22 killing it in this thread. the social justice warriors are really getting out of control...
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:34 PM   #23
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

That things might be bad for women does not in any way imply that things are bad for women because they are women.
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:36 PM   #24
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

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Originally Posted by bjsmith22 View Post
Yes, this. Limit takes a lot of perceived risk away and thus makes the game much friendlier to women.

Unfortunately limit is boring as **** and will never be the staple game of a booming economy. You're better off keeping holdem and continuing to have games dominated by men.
Limit is much less boring to me than NL, especially when you are talking about mixed games where you are constantly having to switch mindsets, and hi-lo games where you see a lot more multiway pots. But even in straight LHE, you make a lot more decisions overall, the hands play faster, and there is less tanking and just generally unsociable conduct.

Limit was also the staple game of the poker economy for all but the last dozen years of its history. But limit poker is NOT a good game for TV, and it is inferior to NL for tournaments. So people who got introduced to poker by watching the WSOP on ESPN of course gravitated to no-limit.

But there is no reason limit cannot become the staple game again, especially now that TV poker is in deep decline and new players will need to be introduced to the game through other avenues.
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Old 11-06-2015, 07:37 PM   #25
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Re: Sexism in Poker/Expanding Women's Participation

"Hey girls, we should bring more mens to our PartLite meetings."


Quote:
Sexism in not the problem. It's like when people say that STEM fields are sexist for not having more women. No, a majority of women simply don't have interest in STEM, just as a majority of men don't want to be a nurses or teachers which is around 85% women. Men and women have different interest. I would like to see more women in poker but I don't see it happening no matter how much poker rooms cater to them.

True. Crazy how people want to go against nature.

Makes me think of public schools in some European countries, they teach gender theory to the kids, telling them we have no sex and everybody is the same.

Last edited by spewAllInFT; 11-06-2015 at 07:51 PM.
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