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Poker News | World Poker News

Women in Poker Hall of Fame

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Alas, women in poker are being segregated again, of their own volition no less. In a move, instigated by some of the well-respected women in poker, the Women in Poker Hall of Fame has been created to pay respect to a select portion of the poker playing population.

To honor the many women in the world of poker who have achieved remarkable success, the Women in Poker Hall of Fame (WiPHOF) has been established. The first to be inducted into the WiPHOF will be Barbara Enright, Susie Isaacs, Linda Johnson, and Marsha Waggoner.

The WiPHOF will hold its first induction ceremony at 11am on February 2, 2008, at Binion’s in Las Vegas with Mike Sexton as the master of ceremonies. The event will include a luncheon and Jan Fischer making a special guest speaking appearance. Members of the WiPHOF are invited to attend. Immediately following the ceremony, there will be an open $500 no-limit hold’em tournament.

In order to join the Women in Poker Hall of Fame – whether man or woman, a $75 membership fee is required, 20% of which is donated to the Breast Cancer Angels Foundation. This is an annual membership fee that allows participation in WiPHOF events such as the upcoming ceremony, a commemorative gift, and enrollment in a February 3, 2008 freeroll tournament that will be held at Binion’s the following day.

The website (www.womenspokerhalloffame.com) notes that the organization was founded by the Ladies International Poker Series (LIPS) and sponsored by CardPlayer Magazine and Binion’s. It is designed to “honor women in poker who have acquired prominence and who also have made contributions to the poker world.” Their mission statement is similar: “The Women in Poker Hall of Fame is an association of poker players, people in the poker industry and other interested parties. We work to enhance awareness and to celebrate, contributions and achievements of women in poker as recognized and respected representatives and proponents of women in poker.”

The WiPHOF has been developing over the past year under the supervision and support of its Board of Directors, which includes LIPS founder Lupe Soto, Karina Jett, Maureen Feduniak, Allyn Jaffrey Shulman, Ocean’s Eleven Casino Director of Marketing Suzanne Carter, and Production Manager Gyla Whitlow. They chose the first inductees to the WiPHOF from the following eligibility requirements:

1. A Candidate must have been active as a player or industry leader at some time during a period beginning fifteen (15) years prior to election.

2. Player/industry leader must have contributed to the world of poker in some significant way. Either by winning major tournaments, making significant contributions to the industry of poker.

3. Player/industry leader must be a proponent of women’s poker. Even is [sic] she does not play in women only events, she must support them.

Thus, the first four women to be inducted are Enright, Isaacs, Johnson, and Waggoner – all of whom meet the criteria and have had very successful and lengthy careers in poker.

To question the political correctness of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame is not to question the respect due to the women who have created it or who are being honored by their inductions. There is no argument here regarding their contributions to poker and advancements made for women in poker due to their tenacity, courage, and skill.

The controversy, in this writer’s humble opinion, comes purely from a position of integration versus separation. Women have long fought to be seen as equals at the poker tables; they have endured decades of disrespect and downright discrimination – being insulted, treated unfairly, excluded, and disregarded – in poker while only asking to be treated as equal poker players, plain and simple.

And the game of poker itself is predicated on the notion that it is a game of skill that welcomes everyone to the table, regardless of gender, age, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, physical abilities, or social standing. The World Series of Poker main event is the perfect example – a gentleman in his nineties played with his grandson, a legally blind man sat down with sighted players, world famous actors and singers competed against working class people from Anywhere World. The only things that separate the players, at any given table, are poker skills and a little bit of luck.

In a game that has become so welcoming to anyone who wants to buy in and play in the 21st century, why then is it necessary to single out one segment of the poker public to be honored?

Barbara Enright took her rightful place in the Poker Hall of Fame during the 2007 World Series of Poker. She was honored for her many years of poker accomplishments and publicly acknowledged for her contributions to the game. Now, she will be inducted into a more inclusive, exclusionary group that only honors female players who support ladies-only events.

The Women in Poker Hall of Fame is a respectable organization whose intentions are undoubtedly genuine. Whether it is necessary or appropriate – or fair, for that matter – is another issue altogether.

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