There are a lot of people in the poker community drawing attention to the “dry spell” the women of poker are having when it comes to the WSOP. Four years and 234 events have passed since Vanessa Selbst won a bracelet in an open event back in 2008. The WSOP is about bracelets, sure, but a gold bracelet tally doesn’t tell you what you need to know about what the ladies of this year’s WSOP have been accomplishing.
We may measure success in bracelets, but you know how else poker players measure their triumphs? Money, and the ladies are making it hand over fist. Last year, over the course of the entire series, five women made final tables, collecting a total of $919,836 in prize money in the process. This year, the ladies have already made seven final table appearances and collected $764,432 in winnings. If you throw in Annette Obrestad’s quarterfinal appearance in Event #3, the $1,500 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em/Pot Limit Omaha event, that number is actually $792,841.
So far, we have had 15 final tables and women have been present at six of them. Both Selbst and Amanda Musumeci netted six-figure scores and each of the seven female final tablists have earned at least $15,000. There may be no single bracelet victory, but the collective efforts of this group of women add up to something truly exceptional. Where some see a bracelet drought, others are seeing the money flowing in as woman after woman collects a big payday.
Some have suggested female attendance is slightly up this year compared to last year. In actuality, that isn’t the case. It is not an exact comparison to look at attendance through 15 events in 2011 to the first 15 events of 2012 since the schedule changed substantially this year, but the numbers do indicate a slight decrease in female representation. At this point last year, the first fifteen events averaged 3.77% female participation, while this year that number sits at 3.34%.
If you look at the total number of female entrants last year compared to this year, the numbers tell a similar, if not more drastic story. This time last year, 573 ladies took a shot in a bracelet event, but this year that number dropped to 468. Of those 573 players, only two made it to a final table in 2011, Maria Ho and Odette Tremblay. Ho’s runner-up finish in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event netted her the second largest single payday for a woman in WSOP history, trailing only the seven-figures Obrestad earned for winning the WSOPE Main Event in 2007.
Ho’s $540,020 payday hasn’t been matched so far this year, but Amanda Musumeci got awfully close by taking second in the massive $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em w/ re-entries event. Musumeci’s $481,643 score, combined with her other WSOP cashes, like her 62nd place finish in last year’s WSOP Main Event, vaulted her into the top ten all-time female money earners at the WSOP. Even though she didn't earn a bracelet, her payday is bigger than all but two of the bracelet winners so far, making it the third largest payout of the summer.
The score puts Musumeci in the record books, but she will readily admit the runner-up finish wasn’t a dream come true. “The finish is bittersweet as I'm sure most poker players would understand,” Musumeci explains. “Part of the honor in the dream of winning that event was that it would have been historic. That meant the most to me--more than the money or the bracelet. So, to know that I at least made a part of WSOP history in some way is a bit of added cushion to the $500,000 consolation prize.”
While Musumeci and many other female poker players are happy to see such strong results for the women, she is a little surprised at how much her fellow females are thriving.
“I'm actually pretty shocked at the results thus far. I suppose that with the lack of online poker, many women players, much like the men, have had to branch out into the live scene. I know that for myself, a huge change has occurred in my game since I've seriously hit the live arena. I've adjusted a ton, and I've learned how to use my table image and presence as a way to trick, confuse, or distract my opponents.”
Musumeci goes so far as to suggest women are better than men at adjusting their image, which is paying huge dividends this summer. What remains to be seen though is whether or not these skills will lead to a WSOP bracelet in an open event.
“I just really want to see a woman win a no-limit hold'em bracelet,” Musumeci says. “Those fields yield the toughest opponents since No-Limit Hold'em is the game most pros now specialize in. Hopefully a lady can pull through this year, but, if not, I definitely suspect we'll be seeing more sick results from women over the coming years.”
The ladies are still missing a bracelet, but make no mistake, the situation for the women at the WSOP this year is not one of famine--it is a feast of poker accomplishments.
(Photo by Jayne Furman for PokerNews/WSOP)