Woman Disguised as Man to Enter 2018 WSOP Main EventMarch 16, 2018 2:26 pm
A woman poker pro and author who goes by the pen name Sia Layta says that she will be entering the $10k WSOP Main Event this summer disguised as a man. The prime reason for doing so, however, is apparently to support an upcoming book of hers entitled ‘Black Widow Poker: A Woman’s Guide to Winning a Man’s Game’, which explores “gender bias” in the poker scene, with the player saying that she would reveal her true identity if she ends up making the money.
The game of poker has traditionally been dominated by male players, with female players often comprising just 5% of tournament fields. Moreover, women poker pros have often complained about feeling discriminated against on account of their gender, which has been cited as the prime reason for Sia Layta wearing a disguise at the upcoming Main Event as she will be assessing whether she subsequently receives more respect as a man.
According to Layta, gender bias has been a major factor in deterring female players from participating in poker tournaments over the years. At its worst, women can be subjected to sexism and even bullying at the tables, which she says has become so prevalent in game that it results in an all together more negative experience of poker for woman than men.
Male Dominated Fields
As mentioned, WSOP tournament fields are usually 95% dominated by male players, and since the Main Event was first held in 1970 there has been no female champions. In fact, Barbara Enright is the only woman ever to have made a WSOP Main Event final table, and in 1995 she eventually finished in 5th place for $114,180, with Dan Harrington then going on to claim the victory.
The following year, however, Enright took down the WSOP $2,500 Hold’em Pot Limit event for $180,000, making her the first woman to win a WSOP in open play, and she is currently a member of all three poker halls of fames, namely the Senior Poker Hall of Fame, the World Series of Poker Hall of Fame and the Women in Poker Hall of Fame.
The 2012 WSOP main Event was the closest the game then saw to a woman player making the final table, with both Elisabeth Hille from Norway, and Gaelle Baumann from France advancing into the later stages of the tournament. Eventually Hille finished in 11th ($590,442), and Baumann in 10th ($590,442), leaving the final table an all male affair. In 2016, Gaelle Baumann then finished the Main Event in 102th ($ 49,108) to become the last woman standing once more, while last year, just 272 women entered the Main Event out of field of 6,949 players, with China’s Yuan-Yuan Li eliminated in 105th place ($53,247) to earn the last woman standing title.
The WSOP takes place from May 29 to July 17 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, with its $10k Main Event running from July 2 to 14. On April 19, though, Sia is scheduled to release ‘Black Widow Poker’, with her time in the WSOP spotlight then expected to generate extra publicity for her book.
Against WSOP Rules?
Despite her best intentions, Sia Layta’s disguise is likely to fall foul of WSOP rules as participants in the tournament are not allowed to “cover or conceal their facial identity”. The rule apparently dates back to the 2008 WSOP Main Event in which Phil Laak entered Day 1 incognito and wearing a latex mask, wig and clothes which disguised him as an elderly gentleman. Laak was reported soon after by AP reporter Oskar Garcia, and the following year the WSOP added a new rule forbidding the wearing of masks at its poker tables.
Offering some friendly words to the mystery female player looking to don a similar disguise, WSOP spokesperson Seth Palansky said that she could end up being disqualified and forfeiting her $10,000 entry fee. As he then explained:
“My advice is that she take her idea to another event without that rule.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Layta’s book seems to differ on the issue, and said that she would still go ahead with her plan, stating:
“In Sia’s case, she will be playing as herself, but the table will only know her (visually) as a man. There are also many new considerations now that people ‘in transition’ have become common. In any case, she will go forward with playing.”