History of the WSOP Ladies Championship

2014 WSOP LAdies Championship Winner Haixia Zhang
2014 WSOP LAdies Championship Winner Haixia Zhang

It all started with an idea, an idea of getting the worlds best poker players together in an event called Texas Gambling Reunion sponsored by Tom Moore of San Antonio, Texas at Holiday Hotel and Casino in Reno. Soon, this reunion idea changed into an event inviting all the best poker players from around the world to showcase their talent and knowledge of this skill game. However, it was in the year 1970, when the first WSOP Championship took place at Binion’s Horseshoe, and its freeze out format came into the picture the very next year.

In the 20th century, poker was predominantly seen as a men’s game but those people never knew women will soon prove their stature in these world of poker. Yes! It was in the year 1977, the WSOP’s eighth year, when first-ever women-only poker event was launched. With a buy-in of $100 and top payout of $5,580, this event was won by Jackie McDaniels. Though the event was not considered an important one but in the coming years seriousness and dedication towards the women special game increased, and in the year 1981 the buy-in increased from $100 to $400. Things started to change faster, and in the year 2004 the game style was switched from seven card stud to limit Hold’em. This change saw participation of 200 women players. Furthermore, the number of women players tripled the list with more than 600 players in 2005.

By 2007, the popularity of the Ladies Event had grown to the point that it became the first Ladies-only event to have a prize pool greater than $1,000,000. The Ladies played Seven Card Stud for the event’s first two decades, but have been playing Texas hold ’em since 2001. Thanks to the exposure to mainstream poker, online poker and live poker events, the Ladies Event reached 1,000 players in 2010.

With such a huge participation of women poker players, there would of course be many women who would have won WSOP bracelet. Since its foundation, three players have won multiple Ladies Championships: Barbara Enright, Susie Isaacs, and Nani Dollison. Do you know Barbara Enright was the first women to be inducted in Poker Hall of Fame? The 1983 Ladies World Poker Championship was the first tournament that saw a person of color, Carolyn Gardner, winning a WSOP bracelet.

This winners list will never end, and will continue to rise with increased participation of women in poker. Though women presently contribute only 5 % of total poker entrants in WSOP, this number will surely see an upturn in coming years.