Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Best Poker Player. Period.

She did it again.

Vanessa Selbst took down her third gold WSOP bracelet last night in the $25K Mixed-Max NL event for a cool $871K. She's the first woman ever to do the WSOP hat trick thing*... but I'm kind of saddened and ashamed of myself for actually writing this fact down. Poker is one of the few gaming arenas where women compete directly against men. And I love it. But I also want us to get past making note of it. It's an open event, on a level playing field, so why do we scribes have to even make mention of this? Why are we fixated on this woman's specific results, and not, say, the runner-up Y-chromosome-endowed player? Would we have given him the same attention if he had won this event? Nay. Is it some kind of antiquated "Look, the little lady did it. Ain't that cute?" syndrome at play? Dunno. We males are sometimes hard to figure out.

But I do know this: For me, here, now, in this blog, the reason I mention her gender is that women winning major poker events is good for the game. In fact, it's really, really, really, really good. It broadens peoples' thinking. It brings in new, interested blood. And, dare I say, it helps The Cause.

This specific Cause is the one in which the likes of Sheldon Assholeadelson doesn't want America to realize. I speak of course of the plight of us American online poker players, male and female alike.

Imagine for a moment if Vanessa S. were to win the big one come November. Or Maria H. Or my favorite of favorites Annette O. Or Jennifer H. Or Liv B. Or--God help us all--Tilly or Duke.

Just imagine. The winner would be on Letterman the very next night. She would be on the front page of every newspaper--yes, even your podunk hometown rag. She'd be everywhere, guaran-damn-teed.

And She would have a platform to speak. Hopefully not just about gender differences at the tables (though for sure She would be asked about it. Relentlessly.) No, hopefully She would speak about The Cause.

Imagine if a female winner just opened their pretty little mouth on Jimmy Fallon and said something like: "Poker is one of the greatest of American past times. Everyone from pissants to presidents have played it. Even little ole me. Poker literally helped build this country and make it what it is today. It epitomizes the fearless and the gutsy and the stand-strong and the all-in, and, yes, the naked bluff that embodies our country.... It is equal access opportunity to money and freedom and the American way. And believe it or not, some idiots in Washington DC feel that it shouldn't be allowed to be played within our borders. They're happy to take donations from the likes of Adelson and his ilk to curtail our freedoms. They should be ashamed. Many of us women (and men) have honed and played and enjoyed the game online. See this PokerStars patch I wear on my breast? Yes, my breast, pal. It's there because online poker is not something to be outlawed, it's something to be proud of."

Or maybe just, "Thanks for the dough, suckers. I'm now going back to Canada to play your game."

Ah, enough of that. For now I'm just thrilled for Vanessa. She's one of the good guys, pun intended. I hope there are more lady winners to come this summer, and I'll be writing of them as they rise to the top. But I'll also be somewhat saddened and ashamed to do so, too.

You go, girl.

All-in for now...
*Yes, Barbara Enright has also won three WSOP bracelets, but two of those were in segregated women's events, which to me doesn't seem to count quite as weightily.

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