Women and Gambling: it was never a male-only activity!

Gambling Not only for Males

Gambling is often seen as a male activity, especially since the early days of the land based casino when they were dominated by male patrons. However, since the introduction of online gambling, women are able to gamble whenever they want and wherever they are without the pressure of feeling like an outsider. Despite the image of gambling being associated with men, there are many women in history and today who have been successful gamblers. It is surprising then that the online casino industry hasn’t focused on this and still concentrates its female-focussed advertising and games towards bingo and online chat. Since the 1850s and the time of the California Gold Rush, there were many female entrepreneurs who found their fortune in the gambling joints that opened up.

Coming from various locations and backgrounds, these women were brave enough to make the journey to America and seek golden opportunities and, more importantly, they succeeded in an area that was dominated by men.

Pioneering Female Gamblers

Eleanor Dumont, aka Madame Mustache, came from France to Nevada in the early 1850s searching for fortune. She was a Blackjack dealer and opened her own gambling establishment. In 2006 she was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Kitty LeRoy is another example of a successful female gambling businesswoman. After leaving Texas, she opened the Mint Gambling Saloon in Deadwood. She also married five times, owned more than a dozen guns and knives and was always armed. But that’s a story for another time. Coming all the way from England, Alice Ivers was a teenager when she moved to Virginia. She had a keen interest in Poker which she gained from her late husband and after settling in South Dakota she became a Blackjack Dealer.

Reports say that she was the only woman dealer in the area and earned one thousand dollars a night. Dona Maria Gertrudes Barcelo came from Mexico and began to deal Monte in a gambling house in Santa Fe. As this was a popular game with the local Mexicans, Dona became very popular. Her beauty, charm and deftness at dealing made her become one of the most well-known gamblers of her time as well as being the richest and most influential women in Santa Fe.

Legendary Female Players

Lottie Deno is perhaps one of the most famous female gamblers of the American West and was affectionately known as the Poker Queen. Legend has it that she played a game of cards against Doc Holliday and won the pot! She built up a successful career as a professional gambler in Texas and lived to the ripe old age of 89.

Judy Bayley, commonly referred to as the First Lady of Gambling, hails from Dallas, Texas, where she was born in 1915. She was keen on performing in general and dancing specifically throughout her childhood but switched tacks when she went to university. Here she majored in English and Music before settling down with Warren Bayley in 1936. Bayley was the owner of a huge chain of hotels based in California and their ensuing business only went Nevada-way 20+ years later. The Bayleys’ opening up of the Hacienda Hotel Casino had an impact on the growth and eventual success of the Vegas Strip. When Warren passed in 1963, Judy went on to be the first woman to ever own and operate a hotel-casino in her own right.

Vanessa Selbst is held by many to be the greatest female Poker player who ever lived. She first hit the scene during the Las Vegas World Series in 2006 and has since gone on to rack up the most tournament earnings for a women player ever, with her total exceeding a whopping $11 800 000. With three WSOP bracelets in her collection, Selbst has sat at 25+ tables across many tournaments and holds the record today as the only female to ever reach the Global Poker Index no. 1 position.

Female Gamblers Leading The Way

Women have been gambling since the 1850s and most likely way before that, but it’s not just the legendary selection above who are famous in the world of gambling.

There are a lot of talented female gamblers playing today who have attained success, such as Annete Obrestad. Annette Obrestad is one of the most successful young Poker players in the world today, which isn’t bad for a 25 year old. Born in Norway in 1988, Annette was taught to play cards by her father for entertainment. Her interest in the game grew and by the time she was 15 she already had the nickname Annette_15 which she used to play, and win, in free Poker tournaments. At 18 she played in a live Poker game and took the 37th place. The next year she won the 2007 World Series Poker European Championship and took the grand prize of more than $2 million. Women have been successfully gambling for as long as men and there are many more success stories out there.

From the 1850s to modern time, female players have been winning tournaments at live events as well as online. It’s about time that online casinos realised that their female demographic isn’t just Bingo players, and that there are women out there who are serious about casino gambling and even more serious about winning.  

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