A Snapshot of Three Top Female Poker Players in the World

Annie Duke is hands-down the most popular female poker player in most circles. She is a young woman on a roll, learning to play poker young, from her brother (Lederer) she decided at the age of 22 to play poker full time. Although she was studying cognitive psychology at PENN at the graduate level, she left to play poker. In all fairness, she left also to spend more time with her family, but like so many professional poker players, Annie left college in order to spend less time on papers that didn’t seem relevant and to spend the time on poker instead. Though modest, she says that her being female is one of the best assets that she has at the poker table. Despite her current status, she says that a lot of men still do not take her as a serious opponent simply because she is a woman. Instead of being angry, Annie simply counts it as an advantage that she takes to the table that she has nothing to do with. She does not have to work for this advantage, it’s simply an advantage that the men bring to the table and she reaps the benefit of it. Annie’s career in poker is certainly established, but she’s got a lot of her career in front of her; we might not have even seen the best of her yet!

Jennifer Harman is another one of the top female players in poker. Actually, all of the women mentioned herein are not simply top female players; they are top players who happen to also be female. It is not just in a women’s only world that they beat all of their opponents. Harman, like Duke, plays with men every day and Harman also states that men often take her a little bit shy of serious simply because she’s a woman. Also like Duke, Harman claims to take this as her own advantage. She also is a perfectionist, which she says helps her to learn from every mistake that she makes. Like the rest of us, she makes mistakes, both at the table and off it, and she makes her goal to learn from her mistakes. Some perfectionists are just hard on themselves when they make mistakes, but Harman’s philosophy makes it so that she can benefit from her mistakes just as she benefits from the negative outlook of the men who are her opponents.

Kathy Liebert was the first woman to win a poker tournament that was worth a million dollar cash prize. Of course, she has made a deal with the 2nd and 3rd place winners that they would split the winnings, but still, in the end, she was the winner of the tournament. Of course, in the end, it’s not about taking the money home, it’s about winning the tournament—the money is a great advantage, but secondary to the title of being the first woman to win a one million dollar tournament. She studied in New York, but moved out to Las Vegas to play professionally when she was young. In addition to playing so much poker, she likes to play her odds in the stock market as well. Like the other advanced women in poker, Kathy wins by taking advantage of her strengths and by not letting anyone else interfere with her game.

These three women are inspirations to women and men alike in the poker world. There are simply not that many women in professional poker, though some people are aiming to change that, the cold hard fact is that it just hasn’t happened yet. Until it does, the poker community will continue to support these three with vigor, and hopefully that will be done even if the female poker contingent widens; these three deserve all the respect and support that they’re getting, and more, for their significant accomplishments.


Darnell V. Denman
Poker Player

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