It’s hard to imagine PokerStars Team Pro member Vicky Coren being afraid to walk into a casino poker room, but the way she describes it in her book, For Richer or for Poorer, Confessions of a Player, it seemed to her at the time like walking into a lion’s den. She says that she would go to the casino with every intention of playing poker but each time as she approached the poker room full of men she would turn away at the last minute and wind up at the roulette table instead.
“I retreat to the roulette table. Roulette is different. The croupiers are chatty and friendly. There are women around the table. . .” She describes being afraid to face down the men who “stare suspiciously” at her when she peers in. She repeats this scenario numerous times before finally becoming friends with some of the players, which gives her entrée to tag along when they are going.
She eventually became a regular at the casino, the Vic in London, where she played every week for years. Her story in this respect is not unusual for women who play poker. Many women have similar stories about braving the poker room for the first time. What makes Vicky’s so dramatic is the fact that not only did she get up the courage to finally go in and become a fixture there herself, but in 2006 she garnered a special victory at that casino that seemed to bring her full circle. That year she finished first in the EPT London Main Event at the Vic and won $941,513. At the same casino where she was once afraid to walk into the poker room she became the champion of one of the most prestigious poker events in the world and brought home just shy of a million dollars for her efforts.
I visited with Vicky about this and a few other topics in January between tournaments at the PCA. She had just finished fourth in the Ladies Event there and we discussed her feelings about women only tournaments while she took a quick cigarette break. She said that that the ladies event she had just finished playing was the first one she had played “since her twenties.”
She noted that although she hadn’t played a women’s event in a long time (2001 at the World Series as it turns out) she might do it again soon because she had enjoyed the friendly camaraderie and chatting with some of the women.
I had just read her book, now out in paperback, and asked her about the scene mentioned above and how it related to women in poker. She said that she thinks women have the same abilities in poker, but points out that it takes a certain type of personality. “It’s hard for some women if they’re really shy, but if you have a competitive personality, you can do it.” “Women have to be brave to play poker,” she said. “It’s not for the faint of heart.” She mentioned that she thinks the tournaments PokerStars sponsors for women will go a long way toward making it easier for women to get into the game.
So should we expect to see Vicky at another ladies event this year? As she put it in a column she wrote later for The Guardian in London, “. . . I gave it a spin [playing the women’s event at the PCA] and made the final, winning $9000. Almost more importantly, it was an enjoyable and different couple of days. I might play a few more ladies’ events this year. Fun and money: what more can you ask from the game?”