After the eSports gambling outfit Unikrn created the first all-female professional eSports team, Lee Davy wonders if the same premise would work in the poker world?
I needed a new hoover. I walked into the shop, and next to the Henry Hoover was a Hetty Hoover. Henry is red and naturally masculine. Hetty is pink and obviously feminine. I walked out with my Henry Hoover wondering if the floor cleaning business was going slightly mad?
On Sunday, I went to my parents house for dinner. Toys belonging to my niece sat in the corner. There was a pint-sized Hetty Hoover. She is four-years old. Apparently, she likes to push the hoover around the house with her doll. The doll is a girl.
eSports gambling outfit Unikrn has created the world’s first all-female eSports team. They will compete professionally in Counterstrike: Global Offensive leagues. Reading the profiles of Perrine “Lalita” Allesiardo, Sophia “Kim” Benfakir, Melania “Gina” Mylioti, Julia “Julie” Strunkwoski, and Camilla “ParamaViolet” Hart, it was interesting to note that several of them fell in love with video games watching their brothers playing.
I don’t think my niece will be joining them anytime soon.
Daniel Negreanu recently asked on Twitter why there weren’t more female poker players in the game? I repeated that question to a few female poker players and it all seemed to boil down to the societal conditioning in the area you were born. If you are brought up to play with Hetty Hoovers, then you are more likely to choose a different career than the young girl whose parents were in a pro-eSports team.
If we are going to all work towards a society that encourages gender equality, then we have to start at the beginning. I am a father. I have a son. It’s important that I teach him that it’s ok to be emotional, and vulnerability is a strong suit. I also have a responsibility to guide him when I earwig on conversations with his friends that I believe are heading down a path full of misogynistic weeds and ism thorns.
I plan to have more children. Given my age, it’s a certainty that I will adopt or foster. I would like a girl. I won’t be buying her Hetty Hoovers. That’s no slight on whoever bought my niece one. I assume societal conditioning played an innocent part in that choice. But I will be raising these issues and talking about them to her.
Although there is work needed at the grassroots parenting level, there is so much more than can be done at all levels. If I am going to father a young girl, then it’s important to me that I can point to successful role models in the world that are of the same gender.
A few weeks ago, I was at a conference in Bournemouth, and one of the guest speakers was a young woman called Jen Groover. She is a very successful entrepreneur, mother of twin girls, who gave a talk on emotional intelligence. She was such an inspiration. I wished my son was there to hear her, and if I had a daughter, I would have loved her to hold aspirations to be like her.
Groover oozed power. It came from her belief. She talked about the imbalance of female positions in the higher echelons of power and put it all down to a lack of self-belief. She believes that once women start developing a stronger sense of self-belief, on a much wider scale, then the men had better watch out because the women are already more hard working and smarter than most of their male counterparts.
I believe her.
When I was in school, the girls worked hard, while the boys got into trouble. In the evening, the girls did their homework, while the boys played video games.
In creating an all female eSports team, Unikrn is achieving two things. They are turning the spotlight on their new company. It’s big news. The eSports industry has been talking about ways to make way for the rise of female competitors for some time now. Unikrn is now benefiting from that call.
They are also creating a powerful platform for female gamers. There should be aspirations to join that team. It gives us a unit to point to for inspiration. They get to be the spearhead for every female eSports athlete who has felt their avenue to the top has been blocked in the past.
Eventually, as a result of this move, the top eSports teams will hire the top female eSports athletes. That will inevitably come. But I believe for now it’s a great move. I think female gamers are more likely to flourish surrounded by other female players. There will be a better understanding. More empathy and a better team spirit.
Bringing the same concept into poker would be interesting. We have been thinking of ways to tap into the ocean of female poker players for many years. Perhaps, the best opportunity to address this issue comes with the rise of the Global Poker League (GPL).
Imagine a female franchise owner selecting a team of the top female poker players? How would a team consisting of Vanessa Selbst, Liv Boeree, Loni Harwood, Vanessa Rousso and Maria Ho fair against the male teams? How would it affect the thousands of female poker players wondering if a pursuit of a professional career was worth it? And out of sheer interest how many female poker players will be drafted if the rules stay as they are? Are we going to be in a position where the only female poker player selected year after year is Vanessa Selbst?
I believe firmly in female only poker and eSports tournaments. I never used to. I used to wear the hat that said if you want equality stand in the arena with the men and slug it out. I have since changed that view. I have learned to be more understanding. I have opened my eyes. I have learned empathy and to see things from a female perspective, and I have so much more to learn.
Joining a gym was a game changer for me. It showed me how uncomfortable it could be for female’s thrust into a male dominated world. While it may not bother some, the feedback I have received from my female friends, is female gyms are much better. Why would poker or eSports be anything different?
Of course, in the pursuit of gender equality, eventually men and women should compete at the highest levels of poker and eSports. I support that entirely. We have a long way to go. What Unikrn has done is a step towards that goal, and I for one would like to see it emulated in poker through the GPL.
What’s your view?