Many women have shown themselves to be expert gamblers over the years. Who are the most legendary female casino-goers whose names and exploits should be remembered?
The following are some of the most celebrated women gamblers, with some from the early days of the poker scene in the Wild West and others achieving success in more modern times.
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While her real name was Carlotta J. Thompkins, this lady was best known in gambling circles as Lottie Deno. She was born in Kentucky in the mid-19th century and went on to earn the title of the Poker Queen for her outstanding success at the card game.
Lottie played against some of the era’s most legendary poker stars, and was said to have defeated the famous Doc Holliday in a game. She played mainly in Texas and New Mexico, where she gained a reputation as a brave and skilled player at the poker table.
She appears to have given up gambling at the end of the 19th-century, and helped to found a church in Deming, New Mexico before living out the rest of her life peacefully there. However, by then she had already cemented her reputation as possibly the first woman to make a big impact in the male-dominated poker world.
Blackjack was Eleanor Dumont’s chosen card game, and she was said to be among the best players in the Wild West at it. All we know of her background is that she appeared in Nevada City in 1854, but it is unclear where she came from and whether she was French or from the US.
Her expertise at blackjack meant that she made a living dealing this game in her own popular gambling parlor during the California Gold Rush. Crowds of players would travel from far and wide to see her deal the cards, leading her fame to grow.
Eleanor moved around a lot, working as a dealer and also gambling in many places like Deadwood, Tombstone, and San Francisco. She was regarded as being an extremely fair dealer and an extremely popular personality in the gambling world.
Around the same time that the previous ladies were making a mark in gambling establishments, Alice Hukert was doing the same thing. She was born in London but moved to the US as a youngster, before going on to earn the nickname of Poker Alice due to her expertise in this card game.
Not a lot of information about Alice has survived to our times, but we do know that she was widely-respected for her fierce personality and toughness. For a woman to succeed in the male-dominated gambling scene at the time she had to know how to look after herself.
In fact, legend has it that Alice once shot a man who was behaving badly. However, she is best remembered for being an extremely good poker player and dealer who showed that ladies could succeed in this environment with the right mixture of skills and attitude.
In more recent times, Vanessa Selbst has earned the reputation of being the most successful female poker player of all time. In fact, the Brooklyn-born player is the only woman to have climbed to the number one spot in the Global Poker Index rankings.
Her career has seen her pick up close to $12 million in live poker tournament winnings, and she collected three WSOP bracelets. As the highest-earning female poker player in history, Vanessa has also broken into the top 100 earners on the all-time list.
Before playing pro poker, she studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then Yale University. Her first appearance where people took note of her was in the 2006 World Series in Las Vegas, and she went on to appear in more than 35 final tables in a variety of tournaments.
Born in Canada, Kirsten Bracknell went on to earn more than $5 million on live poker tournaments around the planet. She got started by playing online poker while studying at university. Her incredible tenacity and consistency in playing at least seven and a half million poker hands in just three years then earned her the title of the Ultimate Grinder.
Kirsten hit the big time with victory in the $1,000 Ladies No Limit Hold’em tournament in 2013’s World Series of Poker. This gave her over $173,000 in prize money and she soon added to that total with other impressive wins in the following years, as she climbed the earning list.
She was the highest-ranked female poker player in 2017 and continued to earn big wins through the following years. Her third WSOP bracelet came in the online version held in 2020, and she shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.