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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2008 | The Works

Alan Jaffray Enters WSOP Ladies Event, Asked to Leave

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The controversy over ladies-only tournaments has grown to heated proportions over the past few years. Some tout the events as a positive step toward bringing more women to the game of poker, but others cite discrimination as a main reason to eliminate them from popular tournament series. Many in the discussion have very strong feelings about the topic.

Most recently, California took a stand on women-only tournaments via the state’s Bureau of Gaming Control . The statement released noted that ladies-only poker tournaments may violate California’s anti-discrimination laws. Not only is it unlawful to hold events that don’t offer admittance to men and women equally, but the mere advertisement of such events may fall into the same category. Men have successfully entered these events in the past, even cashed in them, and there is nothing the casinos or tournament sponsors can do to stop them that doesn’t fall under the laws that prohibit discrimination.

Nevada, however, has not taken the same stance and continues to offer ladies-only tournaments in the same manner in which it and the public have become accustomed. As such, Harrah’s and the World Series of Poker again put the $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold’em World Championship on the 2008 WSOP schedule. (There will also be the semi-traditional seniors-only and casino employees’ events that are exclusionary but still offer WSOP bracelets to the winners.)

On June 8th, the first day of the 2008 WSOP ladies event , it seemed that no men wished to challenge the Nevada discrimination laws…until one man showed up for the challenge. Alan Jaffray showed up in a modest yet attention-getting dress, with a purse and hat as accessories, and bought in to the event before being asked to leave. Though he received his buy-in back, he was not pleased at being denied entry to the event. He responded to my inquiry and explained the incident.

JN: Why did you decide to play the ladies event?

AJ:
I'd imagine for most of the same reasons as most other entrants in the event. It's a WSOP bracelet event, and everyone wants to win a bracelet. From what I've heard, it's a somewhat more relaxed and
social atmosphere than many of the other events. It's an opportunity
to win a lot of money. It's the only event going on Saturday afternoon. I'd taken the previous couple of days mostly off after my final table in the $1000 rebuy event.

There was a discussion about men playing ladies events on the BARGE list, and I mentioned that maybe I should play to my friend and former poker mentor Patti Beadles; she made it clear that she considered it completely mandatory that I do so, and continued to prod me with suggestions for clothing and accessories in the following weeks. We went shopping the day before, along with Sabyl (Cohen) Landrum, and picked out a nice outfit.

I showed up early, met with friends at the coffee shop, received many
encouraging comments from other ladies event entrants at nearby tables and posed for photos for them. Realizing it was a ladies event, I was on my most ladylike behavior. Then I went to the Amazon room and got kicked out.

JN: Did the staff allow you to buy in?

AJ:
Yes. I bought in the night before, and they gave me no trouble at all.

JN: What happened on the day of the tournament?

AJ:
I never got to my seat. As I was approaching the blue section,
Jeffrey Pollack pulled me aside and informed me that I would not be
allowed to play. He told me that they take the ladies event very
seriously - I told him that I do too - and that it was necessary to
keep me out to protect "the integrity of the game." I'm not sure what
my sex has to do with the integrity of the game - I do have a penis,
but I don't intend to use it at the poker table - but as I told him, he's the boss, and if he says I can't play, I can't play.

JN: How do you feel about being asked to leave a WSOP bracelet event?

AJ:
A little annoyed, and a little surprised, since I've never heard of
anyone being denied entry to a poker tournament on the basis of sex,
and that includes ladies events. Men have played in WSOP Circuit
ladies events and WPT ladies events. I don't think it's something
they need to worry about, as the population of men who want to compete for the title of ladies world champion is pretty strictly limited.

But, whatever. It's not something I'm going to make a big fuss over.

Eventually they'll try to deny entry to the wrong person - like, say,
a pre-op transsexual woman - and there will be fireworks. When that
day comes, I will serve popcorn. (Smile) Until then, I have an amusing story to tell and a new appreciation for accessories and lipstick.

Note: Alan Jaffray is a poker player with several accomplishments under his belt thus far. He had three cashes, including a final table, at the 2007 World Series of Poker, and in the first week of the 2008 WSOP, he made a final table and took fifth in the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em w/Rebuys event.

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