Share this on

There is no shortage of poker in Las Vegas during the months of June and July. Cash games will be thriving at every casino with a poker room, as players descend upon Sin City from across the planet to compete in the World Series of Poker and other tournament series. Most casinos offer lower buy-in options to entice players away from the Rio, with big series scheduled for the Venetian, Wynn, ARIA, Planet Hollywood, Golden Nugget, and Binion’s. Most of those poker rooms, including the Rio, offer daily tournaments as well.

Women are welcome to play in all of the tournaments across Las Vegas. It is 2017, after all. However, many women enjoy the ladies-only events as well. In past years, they have gathered in Vegas during the WSOP to play that $1,000 NLHE Ladies Championship, along with ladies events at other casinos. It had been a much-anticipated week for years.

Recent summers have seen diminished opportunities, however. And other series are scheduling their ladies-only tournaments at inopportune times. The shocking conclusion — shocking if you’ve never noticed how badly women are traditionally treated in poker — is that women are an afterthought when planning the summer poker events in Las Vegas.


Few Events on Inconvenient Dates

Of the seven major tournament series scheduled in June and July of 2017, only three of them are offering ladies-only events. The WSOP, ARIA, and Planet Hollywood options are as follows:

  • Friday, July 7: WSOP $1K NLHE Ladies Championship (no guarantee)
  • Saturday, July 8: ARIA $300 NLHE Ladies (no guarantee)
  • Sunday, July 9:  Planet Hollywood $250 NLHE Ladies ($10K guarantee)

First, all of these events collide with the WSOP Main Event. The WSOP Ladies tournament starts the day before, ARIA starts on Day 1A, and Planet Hollywood starts on Day 1B. For those also wanting to play the Main Event, the options are severely weakened due to conflicts for making the second day of any tournament.

Second, only one of the ladies-only events includes a guarantee on the prize pool. In contrast, the seniors-only events on the casino schedules offer several guarantees, such as a $100K GTD at the Wynn, $400K at the Venetian, and $100K at Planet Hollywood.

Third, players aged 50 and older have many more options, as there are seniors-only events scheduled at the ARIA, Wynn, Venetian, Planet Hollywood, two at the WSOP, and five at the Golden Nugget.

Fourth, it should be noted that the WSOP continues its diminished values for the Ladies and Seniors Championships in 2017, as players begin both of those tournaments with only 5,000 chips. Meanwhile, the prior week’s $888 Crazy Eights NLHE event offers 8,000 chips for those players, and the $1,500 NLHE events give players 7,500 in starting chips.

Poker Is Open to Everyone

It is true that women can play in any poker tournament in Las Vegas, as well as in any of the cash games. Gender discrimination is against the law. However, after so many years of poker being a male-dominated game, it is surprising that there is so little outreach to women.

Many women still prefer the ladies-only poker tournaments because of the comfort factor, the lower buy-ins, and the ability to gather with friends they see each year. The Ladies International Poker Series, better known as LIPS, does step in each year and organize some ladies-only events for those traveling to play in Vegas during the summer months. This year, however, there are likely to only be two events instead of a week’s worth of poker, primarily due to the lack of space in poker rooms for specialized events.

Lupe Soto of LIPS told us, “A lot of the issues around hosting ladies events is a numbers game. Reserving a spot for a ladies event may bring in 200 players. But an open event at the same time can triple the numbers.” And since casinos are focused on profits, the bottom line is that ladies-only events are not nearly as lucrative as others.

Women who come to Las Vegas this summer have a lot of poker from which to choose, but their ladies-only options are severely limited. However, LIPS is working to finalize plans for two events this year around the time that the WSOP, ARIA, and PH tournaments are scheduled. Those should be announced in the coming weeks.

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.