A man’s world?
Interview I made for PKR’s News and Events
As women continue to make more headlines in the poker world, Team Pro ‘welllbet’ gives her view on their past, present and future
As the poker world grows to ever-higher levels, one question always remains: will it always be a boy’s game? Many female poker players and journalists have predicted a forthcoming poker utopia, where men and women play the game together with no regard for gender; when Amazon-esque women descend on the world’s poker tables to prove they are just as capable of winning millions of dollars (and bracelets) as their male counterparts.
Despite fighting the good fight, First Lady of Team PKR Pro Sofia ‘wellbet’ Lövgren remains more skeptical.
“Poker is a male dominated game” she states. “In your average tournament, only 5% of the players will be female. With some few exceptions, the male players are usually also the favorites. I would say it is still a boys club, since it’s still so dominated by them.”
But she’s also quick to point out that this is not necessarily a bad thing for the savvy female player.
“There’s definitely an element of underrating at the tables and elsewhere, which women can exploit if they’re smart. I feel most of the time I’m embraced as a player, so I really enjoy being part of the minority when I play poker. I often get treated extra nice and love to be one out of twenty! Speaking for myself, I see it just as an advantage; I can build a tight image and then trap the boys with the nuts or make moves and bluff when they don’t expect me to.”
Players like Vicky Coren have also pointed out that the anonymity of the internet can provide a platform for female poker players who might feel intimidated at live games. Does Sofia agree?
“Yes, definitely! Online you don’t know who your opponents are and you can hide your identity if you like. I have actually noticed that this is more often used by the men instead. There are so many female avatars and names online at PKR, so you have to suspect that a lot of men pretend to be girls in order to get underrated.”
Sly! And does she think women will continue their progress until they are equally represented?
“There are many promising female poker players on the tour today. Hopefully we’ll see more big results soon – like Annette Obrestad’s WSOP Europe Main Event bracelet – which will encourage more women to play. Female players getting big results would definitely have an impact, at least short term, and help bring more female players into the game. But I don’t think we’ll ever be equally represented – poker will always be considered a man’s game.”
A strong statement, from the 22 year old Swede. Has she ever encountered difficulty playing among the vast sea of men?
“I had some reactions when I first became a Team PKR Pro. Mostly I got a very positive response, but being a young girl and landing a contract ahead of so many other candidates was a bit controversial. In 2010 when I played on the televised feature table of the Irish Open – my first live tournament – I was criticized by a commentator who implied I’d been given a contract because I was a young girl. I went deep in that event and made some good money, as well as in my next tournament where I final tabled. I was happy with that reply.”
And do some women use different strategies to men at the poker table?
“There are a few ultra aggressive female players, but unfortunately many others are a bit tight passive.”
Despite being outnumbered, poker has a healthy pantheon of female players to choose from, but does Sofia have any personal idols?
“Vanessa Selbst continues to make results and is a really good aggressive poker player. She deserves all respect she gets.”
And finally, what does the future of poker hold for women who play poker?
“I like to be honest, so I have to admit I think it will be pretty much the same as today.”
There you have it – straight from a lady in the know. For the forseeable future, it seems poker is staying a men’s game.