Famous female poker players

Poker is not just one of the oldest casino games but also a global phenomenon that transcends stereotypes. Though most people perceive it as a strictly male thing, female professional poker players are there to prove otherwise. Elite lady gamblers helped change the perspective and teach the gambling community that casino games are not reserved for men.

But the question you are probably asking right now is this: Who are the best female poker players in the world? It’s a truly mind-provoking question, so let’s dive deep into the world of lady gambling.

A Brief History of Poker Female Players

It is clear that poker was not a women’s game back in the early days. That was the time when only men were expected to partake in casino games, so the first ladies who entered the poker scene had to do it with determination and grit. These very first pro female poker players deserve a special place in the history of the game because they built the foundation for other women to appear in such competitions. Here’s a very brief timeline of their achievements:

  • 1973: Barbara Freer becomes the first woman to compete in the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
  • 1982: Vera Richmond is the first woman to cash in the WSOP Main Event.
  • 1993: Marsha Waggoner reaches a WSOP final table, the first woman to do so.
  • 1995: Barbara Enright wins a WSOP bracelet in an open event, a first for female players.
  • 1996: Barbara Enright becomes the first woman to make it to the final table of the WSOP Main Event.
  • Early 2000s: The rise of online poker allows women like Jennifer Harman and Annie Duke to gain prominence.
  • 2004: Annie Duke wins a WSOP bracelet in an open event.
  • 2010s: Increased recognition and support for female poker players, with figures like Maria Ho and Kristen Bicknell becoming influential.
  • Late 2010s and early 2020s: The rise of online poker websites. The rise of online poker also had a notable impact on female participation in the game. Traditionally, poker has been a male-dominated activity, but the anonymity and accessibility of online platforms made it easier and more comfortable for women to participate.
  • March 2020: The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) required all online casinos to participate in Gamstop, a national self-exclusion program. Over 200 online operators, including poker websites, joined the program, thereby enhancing industry protections for vulnerable groups. However, the conditions for participating in online poker became significantly stricter, with additional rounds of verification and limitations on payment methods. In response, agile developers created non Gamstop casinos for Brits, offering more freedom for players through shorter KYC procedures and a wider range of accepted payment methods. Women, in particular, may benefit from this approach as it is less restrictive and less discriminatory.
  • Ongoing: Organizations like the Women’s Poker Association (WPA) promote and support women in the sport, reflecting a more inclusive poker community.

Breaking Barriers: The Most Famous Female Poker Players

We find writing this section quite difficult because there are already a lot of girls who really deserve to be mentioned here. However, another goal is to give you a quick overview of the best female poker players, so we will keep it short by focusing on crème de la crème only.

1.      Vanessa Selbst Is a Tournament Beast

We just have to start our list with Vanessa Selbst as she is not just one of the best female poker players – she is one of the best players, period. Here’s a fact to prove our point: Vanessa is the only lady with the ultimate female poker players ranking as she reached the number one GPI position. Yes, we are talking about the overall Global Poker Index rating!

The best part is that Selbst earned more than $11 million in live tournaments while building a reputation as a gambler who is surprisingly fearless at the table. This practically means Vanessa will do her best when most people succumb to pressure: That’s exactly what makes her one of the top female poker players. And yeah, we forgot to mention that she is a three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner.

The overall impression is that Vanessa exudes a fearless demeanor at the poker table, especially through her aggressive play and strategic brilliance.

 2.      Liv Boeree Is the Multi-Dimensional Poker Phenom

Liv Boeree is what we call a true Renaissance woman of poker. With a background in astrophysics and a penchant for music, she brings a unique perspective to the game that sets her apart from her peers. She is a member of a larger female poker players UK cohort and a former professional model!

Boeree became a notable casino figure in 2010 when she won the European Poker Tour San Remo Main Event for over $1.25 million. This was just the beginning for Liv since she racked up over $3.5 million in live tournament earnings throughout her career. The best part is that Boeree is the only one among professional poker players female to win two of the biggest bracelets (in EPT and WSOP). From our personal perspective, Liv is a genuine superhero lady thanks to her versatility outside poker rooms: She is a sought-after speaker as well as a presenter with a highly engaging personality.

Generally speaking, fans will always remember Liv Boeree’s calm and calculated approach to the game, coupled with her undeniable charisma.

3.      Jennifer Harman: The Cash Game Queen

Only a handful of female pro poker players are able to match the skill – and longevity – of Jennifer Harman in terms of cash games. This lady has more than two decades of experience at the highest level, which is exactly what earned her place among the elite. Most fans recognize Jennifer as a master of mixed games such as Omaha Hi/Lo and Seven Card Stud.

Harman won a very decent career sum ($2.7 million in total), but she is more proud of her reputation among fellow gamblers. That’s mainly because she is one of the very few professional female poker players regularly competing in the biggest cash games in Las Vegas.

However, we must add a thing or two about her extracurricular activities. For instance, Harman is known for her philanthropy, particularly in terms of raising funds for kidney disease research. This has to do with her personal health issues: As a kidney transplant recipient herself, Jennifer used her platform to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

All this turns Jennifer Harman into a myth rather than a poker player. Thanks to her incredibly composed demeanor and precise decision-making, she has become a true legend of the game.

Notable mentions

Here’s a little word of caution for you – we created our top 3 list based on our personal preferences as well as these ladies’ gambling achievements. This means you might like other names more than the ones stated above, but that is why we added a list of notable mentions.

Maria Ho$4 million
Kathy Liebert$6 million
Loni Harwood$3 million
Vanessa Rousso$3.5 million
Jennifer Tilly$1 million