by Wendeen H. Eolis
Since the 1970s, enterprising men and women in the poker industry have sought to attract women into the fold (as players and industry professionals), but even the World Series of Poker has shown lackluster success in attracting more than a fractionally increased percentage of women into major competition.
WSOP Director Ty Stewart says, “We all need to work toward the goal of doing better to move the needle way up on the participation of women at the WSOP.” Stewart is on the prowl for exciting suggestions from industry leaders who share this goal. Additionally, other WSOP personnel say they are mindful of the need to avoid the appearance of endorsement or partnership with organizations or individuals who may have more self-serving purposes. Beyond the world of women players are women professionals in the poker industry; many have started their management careers in a casino card room, but have seen few opportunities to use their skills in their employers’ broader operations.
In an upcoming article, I will address recent and ongoing research on women in poker. As a collective group, women with successes under their belts need to do a lot more to support the growth of participation of women in major competition and mobility on the upward ladder in casino management.
The WSOP Magnet
Women’s achievements are often a hot button topic around the time of the WSOP as competition is at its fiercest. Preliminary findings indicate that there will need to be a further unification of women to effectively address the penchant of men to refer to women as “catty girls.” Constructive improvements in the processes that identify and celebrate women as role models in the poker world are critical to upgrading the level of participation of women in major poker competitions. And more attention towards honors and kudos based on merit can assure unmitigated applause of women who are feted as the cat’s meow.
JoAnne Liu and Kathy Raymond: Two Women of Exceptional Accomplishments
Liu’s and Raymond’s documented qualitative and quantitative contributions to the growth of respect for women in poker are longstanding and well documented, but the most glitzy recognition of women’s achievements, afforded by a high profile clique of women that are currently positioned as the arbiters of whose time has come—have delayed their unconditional applause for these two ladies up until now. Liu and Raymond have finally scored, in their eyes.
In the course of research, I reached out to Women in Poker Hall of Fame regarding their operations and selection processes. To be clear, I admire the meaningful contributions of WiPHoF members, notwithstanding my personal decision (and disclosure of it prior to my probing inquiries), to put myself out of consideration as a candidate for a future WiPHoF class.
Poker Player Newspaper Supports Articles that Call a Spade a Spade— Accurately!
For anyone who may have been told (as recently reported to me), that this article will be scratched, suppressed, or sliced and diced by publishers of my material, they were misguided. The article will appear in August with my customary best efforts to assure accurate, fair, balanced and considered reporting. Meanwhile, I offer a preamble.
Women’s Poker Hall of Fame founded in 1998
Going back to the turn of the century (1999), Tina Napolitano, an enterprising woman, known as “the heart and soul” of pokerpages. com (with her business partner and husband Mark Napolitano) laid the foundation for later projects in the poker industry that have built on her pioneering efforts.
Napolitano established a woman’s page and the “Women’s Poker Hall of Fame.” She said (in a telephone interview), “I saw nothing out there; I wanted to pay homage to women who deserved it.” Her list of 30 women was built over the years of her stewardship of the online site; it focused on her efforts to include as many women for whom she could find “documentation” of distinguished accomplishments. The Women’s Poker Hall of Fame page has survived three generations of PokerPages.com owners.
Like Liu and Raymond, Napolitano herself had an enviable record of achievements notwithstanding her relatively short 10 years at the helm of the business with her husband. She produced the first online poker satellite for a seat in the main event at the WSOP, the first online poker school, the first podcast of a major poker event—at the US Poker Championship, a live video feed at the 2001 Tournament of Champions and put solid time into advocacy of charity in her poker world.
Her time has come, but she has yet to be awarded her rightful place in the annals of poker history created by those who influence these matters, currently.
Editor’s Note: Wendeen Eolis is the CEO of EOLIS International Group and an avid participant at the World Series of Poker where she was the first woman to cash, and she has cashed 7 more times--in her spare time. Her documented poker resume is available at eolis .com. She is among the honorees that were selected for the Women’s Poker Hall of Fame; she was also the first woman to reach a final table at a major tournament event--Binion’s Hall of Fame Tournament (1988) and is a known activist in the poker industry. The article and and related material are the property of the author and may be used in other of her writings.