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Dear Cate,

I read your PokerWomenNews interview with great interest, as I do enjoy following your career in poker. The honesty in your answers is always refreshing, as I know from being able to interview you myself last year about a variety of topics.

Those who avidly follow you on social media know that you are a consistently-improving poker player, one who analyzes plays, admits to faults, and dedicates herself to making optimal decisions. Similarly, you are well-versed on other topics as well, such as civil rights, philanthropy, politics, and a variety of social issues. I am one of many who enjoy your perspective and insights.

One of the topics about which you’ve been outspoken in the past is sexism and misogyny in poker. You’ve increased awareness about these issues, as you even admitted to me in the aforementioned interview: “There are some people who’ve told me they see a problem with the way women are treated in the poker community when they didn’t before.” While you also noted that you’ve gotten some blowback from some who get defensive, as well as the inevitable trolls, you’re aware that the problem exists and is rarely addressed by the powers-that-be in the industry.

In your most recent interview with Anne at PokerWomenNews, however, you stated the following:

“To be honest, the issue of sexism in poker isn’t that important to me, though that’s obviously drastically different from my public image. I think the way women are objectified and condescended to in poker is bad for both women and men, and I think the overall culture that treats women as a lesser, intellectually flatter species than men is extremely destructive. But there are other issues that I care more about — effective altruism in particular — and I just don’t find myself talking about them as much because people rarely want to get into Twitter fights about the merits of effective altruism. I have a really masochistic inability to let it slide when I see someone making what I think is a bad argument, and debates over sexism tend to draw out some of the stupidest, most bullyish men, and every part of me just rebels against the concept of backing down from a challenge from one of them.”

Believe me; I know it is tough to deal with a constant barrage of men bullying a woman on Twitter for discussing sexism. I stepped off of my soapbox a few years ago to escape the hate.

However, knowing full well the hypocrisy within, I’m going to make a request anyway.

Please do not stop calling out sexism in poker and addressing the inequities in our industry.

Your voice is an important one, and people hear you. Many may not express their support as vocally or often as they should, but your opinions make a difference and will make our industry better in the future.

I am aware that standing up to criticism, as you did with Mike Dentale, has its dangers, as well. You even admitted in the PokerWomenNews interview that you have experienced some threats since the Twitter feud and agreement to the heads-up poker game.  “Mike had somehow gotten personal text messages I’d sent to a friend and was posting them on Twitter; he was also having his friends take candid pictures of me walking around at MGM National Harbor and tweeting those.” His attempt at intimidation is and continues to be dangerous, and I urge you to keep the public apprised of the incidences, not only as a public record but so that people in poker see what you have to endure just to keep a promise and hold up your end of a deal.

There are still disappointingly few women in poker, and many of the ones in the game hesitate to be honest about their experiences or admit to being victimized by sexist and abusive behaviors. This is why your voice is so critical.

Of course, as indicated in your interview, you want to be more outspoken on issues like effective altruism, which is fantastic. That is needed as well. I only hope that you do not allow the trolls and inexcusable behavior from some in poker to discourage you from expressing your views on sexism as well.

Please know that many of us support you and value your presence in the industry, and I hope that delivers some strength when the opposition gets heavy. I, for one, appreciate your views on a variety of issues and feel that you are a vital catalyst in accompanying – if not pushing – our poker game into a new age.

With much respect,

Jennifer Newell

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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.

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