Women in poker: He had the right, but he was still wrong

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I’m prefacing this column by saying this topic truly does not deserve any more attention, but it needs to have the women’s perspective.

Women’s poker events are created as an outlet to bring more women to the game and increase their presence in the poker community. Unfortunately, sometimes there are occasions when the integrity of the actions becomes cloudy, as in the case where a 65-year old man bought in to the ladies event at the recent Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City and won the tournament.

What bothers me the most was the reason behind his entry. Ante Up partner PokerNews.com reported this man (whose name is not worth mentioning) only entered the tournament because he had not played in a while and wanted to use this event as a springboard to other events.

According to a Borgata statement, the casino could not prevent the Ventnor City, N.J. resident from playing because New Jersey gaming laws and a federal statute forbid discrimination during poker tournaments. It was nearly two years to the day that Jose Canseco, the now infamous ex-baseball player from Miami, entered the California State Championship Ladies Event at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, and he used a similar anti-discrimination law in California to be granted entrance. Some appropriately referred to Canseco and the five other guys who entered that event as “men from trees.”

My first question: Why did the 65-year-old man think it was appropriate to use the Borgata’s ladies event to get his feet wet? Only now that he’s coming under scrutiny is he saying he will donate his winnings ($20,982) to charity. But will he? That remains to be seen. Hopefully someone will be checking up on him to see if he keeps his word.
I would’ve preferred for him to use the seniors event (since he qualifies) as his “springboard” and not make a mockery of a ladies tournament that saw Holly Raba of Micanopy finish 19th for $525.

As far as I’m concerned the real winner was Nicole Rowe of Salisbury, N.Y. (who officially finished second and earned $11,889). I wish to congratulate Rowe on her accomplishment and for remaining a good sport, which is part of any game regardless of the hype and outcome. You see, Rowe is fighting breast cancer, and she has come a long way with her illness, and her poker. One bad apple should never spoil the bunch, so keep on playing, Nicole, and show everyone that class IS a big part of the game.

I wish her much luck with her fight as she continues to thrive and lead a fantastic productive life.

— Lauren Failla writes a monthly column for Ante Up, tracking the progress of women in poker. Email her at lauren@highheelspokertour.com.