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Online Poker Chips Away At Sexual Stereotypes
by Simon Prodger

Women are being increasingly attracted to the excitement of online poker. Many professional women now shop extensively online and it's natural that they should explore other ways of having fun and spending their money online.

According to the UK's fastest growing poker website, it's no longer just a man's game. One in six new players joining Victor Chandler Poker is female ? up from virtually zero just 2 years ago. The typical female player tends to be between 24 and 25, internet savvy, shops online and has a professional business career.

Why women are taking up online poker

There are 5 main reasons why women are taking up online poker:

  • Poker is gaining a lot of media attention. TV games shows, high-profile tournaments and the traditional portrayal of poker in film and TV gives the game a glamorous, exciting image.

  • More and more women are playing the game professionally. The success of women players listed on the Women's Poker Hall of Fame has created some powerful role models.

  • The web creates a safe environment. Logging on to a poker website is nowhere near as intimidating as walking into a male-dominated casino. Good online poker rooms are moderated, mostly by women.

  • Online poker caters for the novice player in a way that was not possible before the web. First, the anonymity means no-one has to worry about looking stupid. Second, there are extensive tips, articles and tutorials online that rapidly educate the novice player.

  • Games can be played just for fun or for small stakes. One fear is getting into a game where the stakes are continually rising. But fixed cost games mean that if women want to bet, they know exactly how much they stand to win or lose.

Anecdotal evidence from the gambling industry suggests that traditional female traits such as assessing difficult situations, taking in information from multiple sources, make women ideal poker players.

But do women really make good poker players?

Research from Cambridge Professor, Simon Baron-Cohen in his book "The Essential Difference" suggests that men and women do show different personality traits. These traits undoubtedly influence how both men and women play poker.

Professor Baron-Cohen identified three brain types ? the female brain, the male brain and the balanced brain:

  • In the female brain called the E-type, empathizing is the dominant characteristic

  • In the male brain called the S-type, systemizing is the dominant characteristic

  • In the balanced brain called the B-type, both characteristics are finely balanced.

According to Professor Baron-Cohen the female/male difference is not absolute but on average, more women have E-type brains and more men have S-type brains. His conclusions:

  • Women tend to be better at decoding non-verbal communication, picking up subtle nuances and judging a person's character. Even online, players exhibit certain 'poker tells' that can indicate the strength of their hands.

  • Introduced to new situations, women will stand and watch while men rush in, trying to be the centre of attention. The ability to observe and assess other players before joining in brings an advantage

  • Males show more direct aggression while women tend to show indirect aggression.

Women are becoming more aggressive

And if that was not enough to intimidate the male poker player, research from Purdue University suggests that they will face even stiffer competition from women in the future.

Social psychology Professor Amanda Dickman surveyed over 800 adults on the personality characteristics of men and women and found that women are increasingly exhibiting personality traits typically associated with males.

According to Dickman, "Women are perceived as having become much more assertive, independent, and competitive over the years."

The future of women's poker online

Research shows that women do indeed have certain personality traits that predispose them to be good poker players. Add to this a layer of aggression and experience and it seems inevitable that potent and successful women poker players will emerge.

Online poker websites have already noted a significant growth in women players. The market savvy among them will be quick to see the opportunity and provide facilities and tournaments to encourage more women to play.


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