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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Barbara Enright

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Barbara Enright is so good at poker that she has been known to make her opponents cry.  Of course the last time that happened she was a child and playing her brother just a little bit older, but even today she strikes fear in the hearts of her opponents.  With 35 years of playing to guide her, no tournament field is too tough, nor is there any situation she has yet to face.  One of the true legends of the game, which you will soon read about, continues to be one of the busiest players on the circuit.  It could have been a much different path Enright followed, but a visit to a poker room in 1976 helped form a path that has made her one of the most respected players to ever play the game.

Enright, born in 1949, grew up in a family that enjoyed a variety of games, including poker.  Before she could read, she was beating her family out of their pennies in five-card draw.  Her biggest rival at the ripe old age of four was her brother, who was a couple of years older than her.  Her brother would always insist she was cheating because she would seemingly always win.  Barbara, playing a fair game, would go out of her way to prove the game was on the up and up, leaving her brother even more perplexed by the outcomes.  More times than not her older brother would throw down his cards and storm off crying.  Enright continued to play poker with her family during her childhood and through high school, but at that point in her life the thought never crossed her mind she could possibly make a living at the game, especially during that time period.  Instead, after high school Enright thought of ways to make money for herself and her family.

Enright held different jobs after high school.  At times she had up to three jobs at a time in an effort to make ends meet on the home front.  Some of the jobs she held before finding poker were hair stylist, bartender, and cocktail waitress.  After a few years of going from job to job, never really finding anything she liked, she went to a poker room.  In 1976 female poker players were basically seen as a novelty act by most of the men who played.  Most thought when the novelty wore off, or when the women were eventually totally disgusted by the way they were treated by their male counterparts, they would go back to being a waitress, or something “lady like.”  Approaching four decades later she not only withstood the initial catcalling she got from the males, but has outlasted most of them.

Before too long Enright realized that the money she was making at her jobs, all three of them combined at some points, was less money than her poker playing.  Enright had taken to cash games pretty easily, only playing for a little more than pennies at this point.  Without looking back, Enright decided to enter the male dominated world of poker without hesitation, and it’s been a pretty good decision.

After making a career playing cash games, usually playing Holdem, she decided to try her hand in tournament poker.  Enright made her presence felt almost immediately.  After finishing second in a $200 Limit Seven Card Stud event at the 1986 Triple Crown of Poker Classic, she decided to try her luck at the World Series of Poker.  In the very first WSOP event she cashed in, she also won, taking down the $500 Women’s 7-Card Stud event, adding $16,400 to her bankroll.  This win validated her decision to make poker her choice of career.  It also put a bull’s eye on her every time she sat down at a poker tournament, a challenge she gladly welcomed.

At the 1991 7th Annual Jim Brady tournament series, the premier poker tournament away from Las Vegas at the time, Enright dominated the competition.  Enright made four final tables, including winning the $1,500 7 Card Stud event for $45,000.  She also finished second at the No’Limit event, adding $44,625 for her troubles.  Additionally she finished 5th and 7th in the other two events.  Over a period of six days she added just over $100,000 to her poker winnings.  At the time it was one of the best results ever recorded by a woman at a tournament series.  This is something Enright would get used to hearing time and time again.

In 1994 Enright added her second WSOP bracelet when she again won the woman’s 7-card stud event, this time with a $1,000 buy-in and a prize of $38,400.  Two bracelets at the WSOP is an amazing thing, but there were people criticizing Enright’s achievements because she was doing them in female only fields, as opposed to open fields.  With her other positive results in open fields it would have made sense for her to not look too much into these types of arguments with her success, but like a true gamer, Enright took these things as a challenge.

Just one year later Enright made history in the biggest open field of them all, the WSOP Main Event.  Enright was on the top of her game from the start of the tournament.  Enright made history by becoming the first, and to this day only, female player to make the final table of the Main Event.  If it wasn’t for a bad beat, one of the worst in final table history, we could instead be talking about her as the only female winner of the main event.  Enright had a decent stack, and went all in with a pair of eights.  Brent Carter thought about the hand for an eternity, making many watching believe he at least had a decent hand, but shocked the observers and table, most of all Enright, when he flipped over a 6-3.  Carter would make two pair on the board, eliminating Enright in fifth place with $114,180.  Carter went on to finish third and Dan Harrington would go on to win.

Unfazed by the bad beat, Enright would go on to shut the mouth of her critics forever when she became the first woman to win a bracelet in an open event, winning the 1996 $2,500 Pot Limit Hold’em event for $180,000.  For her career, Enright has made the money of 12 WSOP tournaments and has earned a total of over $1,300,000 in live tournament earnings.
Away from the table, Enright is also a motivational speaker and editor-in-chief of Woman Poker Player magazine.  Her husband, Max Shapiro, is also a professional poker player and works as a humor columnist for Card Player magazine, a publication Enright also contributes to from time to time.

Enright added another first to her historic poker career in 2008 when she became the only person in history to be inducted into the Woman’s Poker Hall of Fame, Senior Poker Hall of Fame, and the World Series Poker Hall of Fame.  Three bracelets and three hall of fames – not bad for a would-be hair stylist.

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