You’ve overheard it in or near poker rooms when they thought you weren’t listening, though most of this dialogue goes on in the Men’s, as the guys assume the position in front of the urinal and expose what’s left of their manhood: “She didn’t have no business even bein’ in the pot with them pocket cards,” or, “That woman’s been dumb-lucky for a long time, but it ain’t always gonna be that way.” Each of these complainers has just lost his money to (gasp!) a woman. According to the moaner, can’t no woman so much as spell poker, much less play it, and if the woman who just took his bankroll will keep on playin’, he’s gonna own her.
And that’s why, ladies, you’ve got ‘em right where you want ‘em; no matter how skilled you get as a player or how much you win, there will still be plenty of bonehead guys who won’t give your game respect merely because of your gender. The truth is that in more decades than I care to admit of drifting from game to game around the country, I have played with quite a few women (many more in recent years than in the old days), and I gotta share with you what I’ve observed: Overall, women are better poker players than men, hands down, and even female novices have the potential to be head and shoulders better than the guys who play at the same level.
And yeah, that’s what I said, and if speaking my mind gets me kicked out of the Good Ol’ Boys Society, so be it. The primo qualities you look for in a new player with top-flight potential are (1) temperament and (2) patience, and women have so much more of both than men that it isn’t even a contest. Guys, loaded down with testosterone and eaten up with the Mine’s-Bigger’n-Yours Syndrome, go on tilt more easily than women do, and waste tons of money trying to beat players they’ve taken dead aim on. Ladies don’t exhibit the same nonsense; bad beats don’t normally send them racing off to Cuckooville, and the fact that a certain player beats them a few pots doesn’t transform their game into a no-brain grudge match. It would tickle me to death to help players with high-end potential develop their talents, and to give even the expert female players a little food for thought that might improve their games even more.
If your purpose in playing poker is to win money, you need to accomplish two separate goals. The first is to become the best player you can possibly be through study, through game experience, through whatever means it takes. That you gotta become a good player in order to win consistently goes without saying, of course, but here’s the rub: being a good poker player is the easiest part. The toughest goal to reach in order to become a consistent cash-game winner is what we’re going to talk about here.
Wait a minute, you say, everyone that plays poker wants to win. Well . . .
The above statement should be changed to say that everyone who plays poker tells people that they want to win, though in the poker craze that’s exploded around us during the past few years, more often than not beginning poker players are merely fad-followers just like the folks in the 1950s who bought hula hoops that in just a few short weeks would sit unnoticed in their garages. Their real purpose in taking up poker isn’t clear to most novices, even to themselves, though their sudden interest in the game has something to do with faint hope of becoming a WSOP television star, and to be on a first-name basis with Phil, Doyle, Cindy, Annie, and all of them. They dream of the moment when they can say, “All in,” and then turn their steely-eyed gaze on the camera while they wait for their opponents to act on their hands, and after the game’s over give interviews to people like Norman Chad on ESPN. Not that there’s anything wrong with those ambitions, and if public stardom is what you want, then you should stop reading, right now, and hire a publicist, because I’m not your guy.
In the coming months we’re going to examine ways for ladies to take advantage of their inborn talents, while at the same time they hide their superiority from men who will go on believing that women are suckers at the poker table, and will continue to cuss women’s dumb luck as they stand, broke once again, in front of the urinal in the Men’s. It’s gonna be a fun ride, ladies, and I’ll sure be thrilled if you tag along.
The Poker Pigeon is the pseudonym for the anonymous pro-level player who wrote PLAY POKER LIKE A PIGEON (AND TAKE THE MONEY HOME) now on the bookstore shelves, and THE EDUCATION OF A POKER PIGEON, coming soon to your local bookstore. He will welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.