When it comes to poker news, Tatjana Pasalic, is never far away from the headlines. The Croatian born beauty has held a position in the poker industry since she played her first hand back in 2009, and has thrived in a variety of roles that has seen her playing poker, writing about poker, photographing poker players, interviewing poker players, cooking for poker players and presenting some of the best poker shows and live events in the biz.
Pasalic is, amongst many other things, a CalvinAyre hostess. She is also a head turner who garners a lot of male attention, making her the perfect candidate to give us a female perspective on poker.
When you have to wear make up or behave in any way that may fall into the category of hyper sexualization. Do you think you have a choice, or do you believe this is just the way it has become for women in order to survive?
If we are talking about the poker industry – I don’t think women have to wear make up. I have seen plenty of girls playing poker without it, hanging out in their tracksuits and generally being comfy. That is one of the great things about poker – you can do whatever you want. Obviously, some girls prefer to dress up and put make up on, flirt at the table… and that is their choice, which is a great thing because they always have an option.
Do you feel under pressure to be someone you are not in order to fulfill your role in your current employment, or to gain employment?
Everyone that knows me will confirm that I am blunt, honest, and sometimes aggressive. I have a fantastic job and a wonderful group of friends (male and female) who like me for who I am. I don’t think I have ever changed my personality to gain anything, personal nor professional. So, no, I don’t feel under pressure to be somebody else.
In terms of the standard male/female stereotypes, a lot of men believe they are superior in a lot of departments, and this belief stems from social conditioning. Have you ever felt the reverse of that as a woman?
A lot of men do not know, but there is truth to the saying: “The man is the head of the house, but the woman is the neck that turns the head.” When it comes to relationships, I am all for the team: one day I do this, next day I do that, but things will get done. In an industry as young as this one, I have found myself doing five jobs at a time, when only hired to do one, but in the end the product is all that matters. People on power trips do not amuse. I am never worried about myself as long as I am doing my job right.
Does it anger you that you cannot just wake up, brush your hair, slap on any old rag and head down to the poker tables?
But I can! I have arrived at the poker room so many times wearing Lululemon pants, and tank top or training jacket and only a moisturizer on my face and played poker, railed, hung out with people, etc. I think the biggest issue is often one’s own self-perception – if you are comfortable with your looks and yourself in general, people will notice and respond to that natural confidence. I will never forget what Oprah once said about pretty people, and feeling self-conscious: “Remember, they all go to the bathroom every day and take a number two.” Obviously, when I am doing camera work I like to take more time and care in my appearance, but that is just a professional standard and not angering at all.
What’s your view of the poker world when it comes to the theory of hyper-sexualization?
Sex sells, that is a fact. Poker players have traditionally been a male dominated demographic. So it makes sense that marketing be focused on what drives the key demographic to a various competitor in our industry, which a lot of marketing execs clearly believe is sex. It is not the only method of driving traffic to casinos and gaming clients and websites, but it does seem to be a tool in everyone’s kit. That said, I believe women in the industry do have control of their image to some degree. They can decide what images to publish, what videos to record and post, how to respond to the media, etc. It is possible for women to be successful in poker without being overtly sexual… but I think most marketing people in the industry would pressure or encourage women to believe (and maybe justly) that it doesn’t hurt.
Do you feel that the media are actually doing more harm than good when it comes to attracting new female poker players to the game when they focus on sexuality?
No. I don’t think it will likely bring more women into the game. It may continue to drive the key demographic to click on a link but it is ultimately shortsighted if this is the entirety of a marketing plan. Not only will it not attract women, but also it will fail to expand the market in other directions- specifically to the mainstream. If we become so hyper-sexual to a comical level, how can a BBC, ESPN, CNN, ABC, etc. be expected to pick up poker content and give it a more prominent value. While the hyper-sexualization does work in some ways, it is a double edged sword, because it can also alienate us. Unfortunately, the current strategies may attract more women who are interested in capitalizing on their sexuality, rather than their skills on the table, journalism, or raw intelligence. This imbalance may further contribute to, and enforce, the hyper-sexualization vicious cycle!
What is your view on the role that female attractiveness plays in poker, particularly when you have to work in front of a camera?
Looks will undeniably help one get a job in most media outlets. However, it is not the key ingredient. To use a cooking analogy, let’s say we’re making a cake – the icing and the decoration might look nice but once you bite into it, it is dry and tasteless. People in the industry will understand this – they will click on the link once but they will not come back to eat that cake again. It is always nice to have pleasant looks- but that alone will not be enough to secure a job in the industry. It takes much more – initiative, networking, journalism skills, etc.