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19/03/2007 No. 18
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday March 19, 2007

It is a terrible shame that, in this day and age, many people remain sceptical about women's ability at poker. When I won the London European Poker Tour, a columnist in the Daily Mirror insisted, "I still don't want poker advice from a Judy," and Australian Playboy claimed that the runner-up deliberately threw that tournament because I was promising (or threatening) to sleep with him. Who could have foreseen such sexism from an Australian soft-porn mag?

The truth is, thousands of women are winning on the internet. The small number of female champions in live events reflects only the fact that we remain a tiny minority in those fields. Nevertheless, chauvinists are still happy to deduce otherwise.

In televised tournaments, although I can only represent myself rather than "women", I can't help feeling I have something extra to prove. During the filming of Premier League Poker, against a line-up of international big boys like Devilfish and Tony G, I was determined to demonstrate that certain strong tournament moves are not macho; they are just good strategy.

Here comes the science bit. With playable but medium-strength hands, you are better off reraising (even all in, putting your whole match at risk) than simply raising and having to pass for someone else's reraise. Patience is fine, but timidity is tournament death. Short-handed, or with a stack that threatens to go below 10 big blinds, you must be prepared to push in with any hand at all.

I made a point of employing these "unladylike" tactics in PLP, forcing the decision back on my opponents where possible, playing entirely without fear (if occasionally without accuracy). "That'll show them," I thought, after a particularly bullish heads-up. Unfortunately, it had been so draining that I then burst into tears and needed a comforting hug from the tournament director. Oh well. You know what they say about long journeys and little steps ...

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