When you think of poker, do you picture a table of men, all trying to out-macho one another? That may be a traditionally held view but there are countless women making an impact on the sport and giving an education to the top male players in the process.
So who are they? Here, we look at a shortlist of female poker players redressing the balance in the world of competitive poker.
1. Victoria Coren Mitchell (UK)
London born, Coren Mitchell was the first woman to win a European Poker Tour (EPT) event and the first player to win two EPT main events in London and Sanremo. She has amassed career winnings of $2.7 million placing her at 14th on the women’s All Time Money list.
She has many strings to her bow as an acclaimed author (including her poker memoir, ‘For Richer, For Poorer’) and television personality and host of UK TV show, ‘Only Connect’. Her poker career has seen her become close friends with The Hendon Mob as well as commentate for a host of televised poker tournaments.
2. “Poker Alice” Ivers (England (1851 – 1930))
It would be remiss not to mention women of the past that paved the way for the current ranks of superstars. After moving with her family to the USA when she was young, her first husband introduced her to the game of which Alice had a natural flair.
It was only after his untimely death in the Colorado mines after just a couple of years of marriage when Alice turned to poker to support herself financially. And to support herself financially she was certainly able. It is alleged that Ivers won $250 thousand during her poker career (an amount exceeding $3 million today).
Her fascinating life story reads like a work of wild west fiction—including her gun toting, cigar smoking antics all the while dressed in the latest fashions, purchased on legendary shopping splurges in New York after each big win.
3. Liv Boeree (UK)
Coached by some of the greats such as Phil Hellmuth, Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, and Annie Duke, Boeree can now include herself among them. The 36-year-old has 1 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet, an EPT main event win with a cash prize of €1.25 million as well as being three-time winner of the Global Poker Index European Female Player of the year.
Like many others on this list, Boeree is no one-trick pony. She has a First Class Honours degree in Astrophysics from the University of Manchester and also works as a writer and science communicator. In 2019, Boeree announced she would retire from professional poker.
4. Annette Obrestad (Norway)
Bursting onto the scene in 2007 and winning the inaugural WSOP Europe main event the day before her nineteenth birthday, Norwegian Obrestad became the youngest ever recipient of a WSOP bracelet. Having started playing online at age 15 under the name “Annette_15″ and claiming to never have deposited money on a poker site or online casino, her initial bankroll came via freeroll tournaments.
Placed at number 6 on the women’s All Time Money List and the second most successful Norwegian player in poker history, she has won a career prize total just shy of $4 million. Now a successful makeup YouTuber, she says she enjoys the fact that very few people know her as a poker champion in the cosmetics community.
5. Kristen Bicknell (Canada)
With career winnings of $5.2 million and half of that coming since 2019, Bicknell is on fire. Happy to avoid the limelight, the Ontario native lets her performance on the table do most of the talking. She topped Global Poker Index rankings in 2018 and 2019 and at the time of writing she’s back at the top spot in 2021.
According to statistics, Bicknell played up to approximately 2.5 million hands per year – that’s almost 7,000 hands a day!
6. Annie Duke (USA)
Once topping the women’s All Time Money list, Duke earned her nickname as ‘the Duchess of Poker’ and is now a successful author, philanthropist and management guru. The WSOP bracelet holder uses what she learned on the felt to guide her work in behavioural decision science, comparing each management decision to a type of bet.
2004 was Duke’s most successful year. As well as her first place at the WSOP Omaha Hi-Lo Split event, she walked away with $2 million dollars at the No Limit Hold’em – Tournament of Champions, beating Hellmuth, Negreanu and even her older brother Howard Lederer in the process.
7. Vanessa Selbst (USA)
New Yorker, Selbst, tops the list as the most successful female poker player in history, with $12 million in career winnings and the only woman ever to reach the number one spot on the Global Poker Index rankings. She has 3 WSOP bracelets to her name, a place on the top 100 All Time Money List and a career high purse of $1.8 million.
The 33-year-old, Yale university graduate, shocked the poker world in 2018 by announcing her retirement from the game to work in hedge fund management and enjoy life away from the spotlight with her wife and son. Since then, however, she has started to teach poker online and has even started testing the competitive poker waters once more.
We love seeing women staking their claim to territory often reserved for men and this list is brimming with talent, tenacity and a mastery of the game. Has the next leading lady of poker already begun their journey toward the final table? We’re excited to see how the future shapes up for women in poker!