Poker League of Nations (PLON) establish that the main bottleneck for women in poker is not environment or harassment, but bankroll.
Louie was a sycophant; a wheeler-dealer, a man with fingers in more pies than Little Jack Horner, and like that little lad, I would have loved to have shoved Louie into the corner.
He knew the chiefs who were running the game.
He kept close to them.
“Can you give me a loan?”
Of course, he always got his money because Louie was the seal with the defective flipper, and the sharks liked to have him around on the off chance they would run out of KP Nuts and Monster Munch.
Maureen was different.
A woman in her 50s who looked her age. No makeup. No fancy clothes. Maureen was Maureen. An ever-present in the £10 rebuy, she always had a cap.
“No more than £30 for me,” she would say.
Her half a pint lasted all night.
No KP nuts or Monster Munch.
She never had any room in her mouth, as it was continually chewing on red liquorice shoestrings.
Each week, as she busted the tournament, the lads would beckon her into the cash game like the witch in Hansel & Gretel, except these chips were made from plastic and not candy.
“I can’t,” she would say.
One of the lads would shout: “Why not?”
“He’ll kill me if he found out.”
Advice From The Top
A few summers ago, I interviewed the Olympic gold medallist and PokerStars Team Pro, Fatima Moreira de Melo. I was sitting in my flat in Cardiff, and Fatima was in her bikini, chilling in the Palms before another grind at the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
When I asked her to give the listening women one piece of advice when it came to improving their ability to make headway in the poker community, the Dutch star told me, and I am paraphrasing because it was a long time ago, “Find a way to be financially independent. Don’t rely on someone else for money.”
You don’t need to be Elon Musk to figure out that both Maureen and Fatima were referring to men.
Breadwinners and Breadmakers
My wife and I have a joint bank account, and in the past two years, I have become the primary breadwinner as my wife sacrifices her dreams to be the primary carer for our two-year-old daughter.
Liza knows that the money I earn is also her money, but as anyone can attest, who has been in this situation, it doesn’t feel like your money. In truth, this set up can make you feel a loss of independence leading to unhappiness. And when does it end? What happens when you have another child and another?
I believe losing your financial independence can lead to so much inertia, you may never recover, and so I was glad to read a PokerNews preview on the Poker League of Nations (PLON), and discover, that someone is finally talking about this problem.
$10k, Are You Kidding Me
Lena Evans and Maureen Bloechlinger founded the PLON in an attempt to do something about the statistic that shows only 4.8% of live tournament entrants are female (3.8% in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event).
Between them they set up a website and Facebook Page, encouraging female poker players to join so they could collectively do something about the disparity in numbers between male and female participants.
In April, the pair were on fire, attracting 300 members. Press fast-forward on the Betamax of life, and that number has risen to 3,000, from more than 25 countries, and the founders have surveyed these women to try and understand what is stopping more from joining.
“We know that the No. 1 issue is bankroll – it’s not harassment, it’s not the environment,” Evans told PokerNews in an exclusive interview.
Bloechlinger chimed in:
“For most players – not only women — a $10K buy-in is a huge hurdle. Lena Evans and I wanted to create a real uptrend for women by creating opportunities for them to play in open events that would otherwise be impossible within their bankroll criteria.”
Are you kidding me?
How many people can justify paying $500 to play in a tournament, let alone $10k? If these games run regularly, how can anyone from a working-class background, or a non-purse string holder, become involved.
Think about our other forms of entertainment.
I can watch the Avengers in my local cinema for £4. Watching Cardiff City playing in the Premier League sets me back £25. It only cost me £80 to get into Disneyland.
The cash game that we used to invite Maureen to play was £1/£1 Dealer’s Choice, and you would win or lose upwards of a grand a night. How do you explain that to your significant other?
Poker, as a form of entertainment, is expensive, and if you have to ask someone else to keep giving you that money, so you can hand it over to the Louis’ of this world, then you have a problem.
But I like what the PLON is doing.
The PLON Staking System
The community hosts private satellites to help send members to more significant buy-in live events throughout North America. The beauty of the system is the PLON community becomes part of the stake, so there is an added incentive for everyone to get out the pom-poms.
In the summer, this system sent two members to the WSOP Main Event for $10k a pop, and one of them made it to Day 3, shy of the money. Next year, PLON has a goal to send 50 women to the Main Event, and if they are successful, they will boost that meagre 3.8% stat by 17%.
The PLON Founders Fund is the community’s latest move to grow the cause. It’s a seed-based staking vehicle where the founders select someone worthy of staking and sends them off to do battle for the team, with a percentage of winnings being reinvested in PLON to accelerate growth. Jacqueline Britton became the first player to benefit from the fund when she recently appeared in a Venetian event.
The founders hope to choose a new player every few weeks.
What I love about the PLON is the people who are disadvantaged by the system (worldwide, not only poker), are taking proactive steps to do something about it, rather than wait for the poker industry to pick up the baton.
That said, all of the primary online poker rooms are directing more resources to this undervalued demographic, and Angelica Hael, VP of Global Tour Management for the WPT, recently hosted a Women in Poker Summit on behalf of the WPT in Los Angeles, where Maureens from all over California had an opportunity to make a noise.