Handbags and jewelry
While the game of poker is clearly comprehensive in the sense that all you need to do is buy (ie unless it is a special or attractive game) it is impossible to ignore the fact that the game is played mostly by white males. The game itself may not differentiate, but there are societal biases that affect the world of poker and it would be foolish to think otherwise. To address the gender imbalance, operators and advocacy groups have rolled out a number of initiatives with varying amounts of tangible success.
Create equal opportunities in terms of equality, diversity and inclusion
On an industry level, Unibet was one of the first companies to join the All-In Diversity project back in 2018. The mission statement of this project is to help create a level playing field in terms of equality, diversity and inclusion throughout the gambling industry.
Pokerstars leads several diversity programs, and in March 2021, the operator announced a new women’s visions community called Our Voices – a space where PokerStars “encourage and directly participate in discussions on both female-focused topics, activities, and ideas.” That same month, Partypoker’s mother, Entain, established partnerships with Girls Who Code and the Tech Girls Movement Foundation to bridge the gender gap in the STEM sectors.
All the poker site did was give away some handbags and jewelry
Last year, GGPoker announced a partnership with women’s group FLIP, a move many (myself included) viewed as a cynical attempt to put a bandage on an unsightly wound the size of Dan Bilzerian. Since then, initiatives have been promised but all the poker site has done is give away some handbags and jewelry. On the same day that Pokerstars held their first Women’s SCOOP events, GGPoker had their “Women’s Championship Event” with a single catch.
It was open to all players.
Double scoop with sprinkles of deception
Last weekend marked the end of the SCOOP and GG Online tournament. The latter brilliantly marketed itself as a “double scoop,” ensuring double the prize pool of its competitor. That was until they started reducing their guaranteed prize pools the night before the scheduled tournaments, a move Jans Arends spotted online.
Pokerstars ambassador and senior poker Twitch Streamer Fintan Hand responded to this sleight of hand with frustration and concern about the company’s aggressive practices.
More false advertisements would follow, as the GG Online Championship on the series’ closing day held a “FLIP Women’s Championship” event. The promotional materials for this event read as follows:
“This Sunday, as an added bonus to the GG Online tournaments, GGPoker is hosting the Women’s FLIP Tournament. FLIP, which celebrates and supports the incredible achievements of women in poker both historically and today, is the world’s premier women’s poker community focused on women. Daiva Byrne, on a more inclusive poker community, a vision shared by GGPoker. To celebrate these incredible women, this guaranteed $100,000 event will begin at 14:00 UTC and carry a $100,000 guarantee. Join the effort and support your fellow poker player.” .
There was no mention of it being an open event.
Ladies events are dynamic Trojans
Ladies events have always been a part of the live poker scene. In an ideal world, it might be superfluous but the plain truth is that poker is a male-dominated place and that can be intimidating to some, especially if they are new to the game. Thus ladies’ events were used as a gate format, a Trojan to help some women feel more comfortable in the poker room.
The gender gap is smaller on the Internet
The gender gap is smaller online but a similar strategy has been deployed by sites in recent years with online schedules adding women’s tournaments, most notably Pokerstars’ Women’s Sunday. Last Sunday’s Women’s SCOOP events were an extension of that very positive move.
Pokerstars ambassador, best-selling author, poker player, and chess champion Jennifer Shahade spoke VSO . News She explained an important note she made:
“I’ve noticed in chess that the number of girls and women doubled when more prestigious women’s events were added to the calendar, so the ladies’ ladles were a really welcome sight – I stuck at the end table with the streamer GJReggie and the level of play was really high. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one on the rosters The end table is winning something huge soon.”
GGPoker accused of deafness
It seems crazy to say this but the women’s tournaments come with one basic expectation.
VSO . News I reached out to “KABOOMpoker”, asking her to clarify the details of her tweet. She agreed on the condition that we not use her real name as on the day after it was posted, she received two death threats and one rape threat in her Twitter direct messages.
“The problem is that GGpoker is hosting a poker tournament and they intentionally want to give us the impression that it’s an exclusive women’s tournament event when it obviously isn’t.”
It also hinted at GGPoker’s problematic past, pulling no punches when it comes to calling out its past failures.
The whole situation has a deaf tone written all over it.
“You would think that GG’s marketing executives would have found out by now how dangerous the history between GGpoker and women is. It’s a bullshit show, where we have at least two male GG brand ambassadors who think it’s okay to take part in this tournament. One even made it to the final table. And broadcast everything. The whole situation has a deaf tone written all over it.”
Brand or brand failure?
The controversy boils down to the brand promotion of Maureen Bloechlinger, founder of Globetrotting Poker Ladies Group and core member of the Herzdamen team. Talking to VSO . NewsShe said:
“Since the event was called the tournament, I have had different expectations and would like to see more effort from GG to ensure that only women play this event. PokerStars got their first SCOOPs this weekend and it was an enjoyable experience as a player.”
also speaks to VSO . News It was Vanessa Cady who voiced the opinion that this was par for the course from a company that simply doesn’t care.
All of their initiatives are self-serving, transparently and honestly
“I am not surprised to learn that the Women’s Championship has been open to men considering how painful it is already now that all of their initiatives are so clearly self-serving and dishonest, especially with people like Dan Bilzerian still on the payroll. I am also not surprised to see At least one of their ambassadors reacted by mocking the women who complained.”
For Bloechlinger, this was a brand failure, but for Kade, the brand message was exactly the core of the company’s values.
“GGPoker has proven time and time again to be dishonest and helpful when it comes to women’s initiatives, so this seems over-branded to them. At this point, I would be more respectful if they stopped the charade and stopped pretending to care about supporting women — at least that would be less false.”
“Less bluff” seems like a bit too high a bar for this particular poker site to override these days.