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“Is She a bad poker player?”

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I first noticed it late last year. I don't remember which poker book it was, but one, at least occasionally switched from using, "He' for your opponent to "She." Over the last three months though I've noticed that many of the new books often use the feminine "She" instead of "He," in example hands. I guess Microsoft's grammar checker kept warning them about gender specific pronouns. Regardless of why the switch was made, I find where the substitutions occur humorous.

"She" usually chases to the river and She seldom raises. If you look up passive in the dictionary, it probably suggests, "See She." I don't know if the authors, or more probably the editors realized what they have done. In those situations where they wanted a Tight-Passive or Loose-Passive player they often gave the opponent's pronoun a sex change. I wonder if it was a slip of the male psyche. Do we, all male poker players, automatically peg women or do we judge their poker the same as our male opponents? Well I have my own ideas but I would really like to meet She. She can play at my table anytime. It would be great for the bankroll, and after the game, you can ask her to breakfast.

Okay, the truth, "She" usually plays poker poorly. Of course "He" usually plays poker poorly too, but it seems that most "Shes" have a poker style that promotes weak play. There are a few exceptions but not many. Women are gatherers. Men are hunters. In poker, specifically No Limit Texas Hold'em, the hunter brings home the chips. Even the best women aren't really hunters. They tend to be Fishermen...Fisherwomen...Fisherpersons. They cast their net and catch all the fish that wander into it. Some may use attractive bait and jiggle it in a nice way, but they are not hunters. They just gather in the bountiful harvest of the river, and they seldom go hungry.

Let's look at the typical She. For those women who feel offended put your gender aside for a moment. You are at the table with one empty seat, and She sits down and orders chips. She will often buy-in for less than the optimum. How does expect She to play? How tight are her starting standards? Does she stick to her standards? How often does she bluff? How does she bet her good hands? Is she deceptive? Will she lay down a good hand? Does she overplay her hand?

Come on ladies, admit it. If She sits down at your table, you automatically expect her to be passive. She might have tight or relatively loose standards but she will strictly adhere to those standards. She seldom bluffs, bets her good hands and is seldom deceptive. If the hand fits her standards she will always call one extra bet, and although she is passive, she will usually bet good hands one time to often. She is waiting for the harvest.

Three things stimulated me to write this piece; two players in my regular home games, Jennifer Harman on High Stakes Poker, and a look at the history of the WSOP. I think I'll save the girls. They will make a nice piece on their own. So let's talk about Jennifer first. She was in two or three episodes of High Stakes Poker, season two. With the exception of three hands she was tight passive through out. During the latter episode she sat down, ran a bluff on the first hand, then used marginal cards to win the next two hands. After that she settled in to a more comfortable tight passive style. She had proved that she could be deceptive, then wasn't. She won because the guys willingly jumped into her net. She gathered quite a bit that day. Was her play bad? No, but it was passive.

The WSOP winners reflected something a little different. It appears that ladies have won 54 bracelets in WSOP events. They have dominated the ladies event, of course winning 30 of 30 events. (It might be noted that when five of the Tilt Boys dressed up to enter a Ladies event at the Bay 101 Club, Two of the five made the final table.) Ladies have picked up four more bracelets in the mixed events that were popular in the 70s. Of the 20 open events 17 were limit, two pot limit and one no limit Hold'em event. Most ladies, even the best, just don't have the poker style needed to win a no limit Hold'em event. Not only is the style of play a problem. sheer numbers will over power them, this year less than 60 women in a field of 8773. I expect we will see a woman win the new big money HORSE event before we see a woman win the main event.

Okay, there are some exceptions, but how often have you sat at a poker table where She drove the action? I should jog your memory just a bit. When was the last time you sat at a table with an Asian woman? How can those small women from such a submissive culture be so aggressive? Ladies, I know many of you are excellent and successful players. Many of you are significantly better than I will ever be, but your style of play is different. So when you sit at my table don't be surprised when I spend my time beating your sisters unmercifully, staying out of your net, and scuttling your boat when I get a chance. I don't believe She plays poker badly but she definitely plays poker differently.

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