Women are making strides, taking risks, and maximizing their talents in every aspect of society, and the gambling industry is no exception. Women now account for anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of casino gamblers (the number is even higher in the United Kingdom, at 41 percent, but the average in the United States is just over 20 percent). Yes, ladies and gentlemen, women gamblers have been breaking barriers, hitting the tables, and crushing the house edge, but, like in other parts of history, they haven’t always gotten their due credit. Today, we’re rectifying that! Without further ado, here is our tribute to the best 5 female gamblers, the ladies who have proven their ability to take calculated risks, maintain a poker face under pressure, and ultimately come out on top.
Lotta Dinero/Poker Queen Lotte Deno.
Back in the Wild West, when gambling was mostly a male pastime in smoky saloons, we meet our first female gambler. Mrs. Deno, known as the “Poker Queen,” was known for her bravery and charm on the poker tables despite this. Although she was given the Christian name Carlotta J. Thompkins at birth, Lotte opted for the moniker Deno when a fellow poker player exclaimed that she should be called Lotta Dinero because of a particularly large hand she had just won.
She was a mysterious and skilled lady who, in the rough frontier lands of the Wild West, defeated the likes of Doc Holiday and was able to retire from the funds she won, living to the ripe old age of 89 (she was immortalized in the hit USA TV show Gunsmoke). (the average life expectancy at this time was 52 for women in the states).
Judy Bayley is known as “Gambling’s First Lady.”
Not the Spanish tax agency, but the casino: have you ever heard of the Hacienda? And Judy Bayley, the first woman to run a casino in Nevada on her own, is responsible for its existence. After Warren Bayley passed away in 1964, Judy took over as sole proprietor of the Hacienda, garnering her the moniker “The First Lady of Gambling.”
She had no academic education in business but knew the importance of attracting customers with a combination of showmanship and exposure. She brought both to the venue, helping to keep the Hacienda a thriving company until its closure in 1996. She also had an intense love for the game of Keno. Although Judy passed away in 1971, she will always be remembered as First Lady.
Vanessa Selbst is the only female player in history to reach #1 on the Global Poker Index and a three-time winner of the World Poker Series.
Moving forward in time, we reach Vanessa Selbst, a poker player who has a more contemporary appeal. She is one of the best poker players in the world, and the only woman to ever top the Global Poker Index and take first place in the North American Poker Main Event Tournament in consecutive years. She resigned from live poker in 2018 (at age 31) with more than $15 million in earnings, making her one of just three players (all males) to win the World Poker Series three times.
Obrestad, Annette, “Annette 15/ The Huntress.”
Some people stay away from Annette Obrestad because of the story’s possible references to underage gambling. (she started out aged 15, playing in free tournaments, and won her first bankroll this way, fiercely denying playing real money games until legally able). Nonetheless, this does not detract from the fact that Obrestad is a top 5 female gambler, and that she has led the way and won tournaments while claiming to play some of them blind to emphasize the importance of paying attention to your opponent’s position and profile rather than the hand.
During 2006 and 2007, she earned a total of $500,000 from PokerStars, $200,000 from Ultimate Bet, and $136,000 from Full Tilt Poker, making her the youngest player to ever win a WSOP Bracelet. Furthermore, in 2008, she beat out 20,000 competitors to win the Stars Sunday Hundred Grand Tournament. There hasn’t been much poker talk about Obrestad recently because she’s been so busy with her popular YouTube beauty channel.
Liv Boeree, sometimes known as the “Iron Maiden,” is now the best female poker player in the world.
The fifth and final member of our top five female gamblers is Live Boeree, sometimes known as the “Iron Maiden,” the world’s top female poker player as of 2021. (a nickname earned through a love of heavy metal music and gothic culture, rather than the way she lays bets). She has a net worth of $4mil+ from tournament victories and represents PokerStars as one of the most successful gamblers of all time, being the only female player to win both the World Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour. And that’s not all she can accomplish; she also has a degree in Astrophysics, runs a charity, hosts large gambling events across the world, and serves as an inspiration to women everywhere. Even though just the top five are included here, there are plenty of more badass women gamblers to look up to throughout history, such as Gladys Knight, Kathy Liebeth, Sarann Knight Preddy, and Dona Maria.