Shirley Rosario
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Playing the "Man's Game"

by Shirley Rosario

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Poker Babes(Originally written for European Poker Diary 2005)

Poker has come a long way over the past two years, but the way women are perceived in the game has stayed the same. Women are perceived as tight, weak, emotional, less likely to bluff and not inclined to gamble as much as a man would be. Table image is huge part of poker and the way we are perceived has a direct affect on the chips we win or lose.

In a game dominated by men, I often find I am the only woman at the table. I can extract chips from a man based on how he is going to play against me as a woman and based on how I think he perceives me. There is the "macho" type of man that is going to play worse against me because he does not want to get beat by a woman. He will bet weaker hands trying to intimidate me into folding.

There is also the "gentleman" type that will check his hand because he does not want to take my chips away. Sometimes a man will be the "gentleman" type, but play his hand like he should and then give me my last bet back if he wins. There are always exceptions to every rule. More skillful and competitive poker players will not give me those extra chips.

Sometimes, men might even turn the situation around and play back at me. I always rise to the challenge when they try. These men have taught me some of the best poker lessons I have learned.

Men are not the only people guilty of making these types of generalizations, I find myself making them as well. I am more likely to believe a woman when she bets or raises. I will bet or raise marginal hands because I am more likely to get a woman to fold the better hand. If I am at a table with many women, I will often look for a seat change. I do this for two reasons; they do not have as much gamble in their game and I want to exploit my situation as much as possible. It is impossible to use the “woman” thing against another woman.

At a poker table, we observe everything. Before a player ever plays his/her first hand, we notice what the person looks like. Perceptions help us play a certain way against an opponent until that person shows us differently. Older gentleman play solid poker, businessmen play to have a good time and burn some chips, younger players (especially now) are new to the game and still have "gamble" in them, and of course there are women. Perceive me as the stereotypical female and I will gladly take your extra bets home with me. I wouldn’t want it any other way.