Women and Gambling: Legendary Female Gamblers
While often seen as the domain of men, history is peppered with female gamblers who made a name for themselves and were better than their male counterparts.
Since the early days of casinos, these were dominated by male patrons and seen as a boys-only pastime. However, since the advent of online gambling, women have been gambling whenever and wherever they wanted without the pressure of feeling like outsiders.
Despite gambling’s macho image, many women ended up being successful gamblers. Since the 1850s, many female entrepreneurs established their fortune in gambling joints that opened up across the Wild West.
Coming from various backgrounds, these women were brave enough to journey to the American frontier and seek golden opportunities while simultaneously succeeding in areas dominated by men.
Pioneering Female Gamblers
Eleanor Dumont, aka Madame Moustache, came from France to Nevada in the early 1850s seeking a fortune. She was a blackjack dealer by profession and opened her own saloon in the area. In 2006 she was instated into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
Kitty le Roy is another example of a well-off female gambling businesswoman. After leaving Texas, she opened up the Mint Gambling Saloon in Deadwood. She married five times, owned more than a dozen guns, and was always armed.
Hailing from England, Alice Ivers was an adolescent when she moved to Virginia. She had a profound interest in poker which she gained from her husband. After settling in South Dakota, she, too, became a blackjack dealer. She was the only woman dealer in the area and earned a thousand dollars each night.
Maria Gertrudes Barcelo came from Mexico and began to deal in a gambling saloon in Santa Fe, where she became popular with the local Mexicans. Her beauty and charm made her one of the best-known gamblers of her time and the wealthiest woman in Santa Fe.
Legendary Female Players
Lottie Deno is perhaps the most famous female gambler of the American West and was affectionately known as the Poker Queen. Legend has it that she played against Doc Holliday and won the pot! She built up a successful professional gambling career in Texas and lived to the ripe old age of 89.
Judy Bayley, the First Lady of Gambling, hailed from Dallas, where she was born in 1915. She was keen on performing and dancing throughout her childhood but switched tracks when she started university. Here, she majored in music and English before settling down with Warren Bayley in 1936.
Bayley owned a chain of hotels in California, and their business eventually spread to Nevada. The opening of Bayley’s Hacienda Hotel Casino directly impacted the future growth and success of the Vegas Strip. When Warren passed away in 1963, Judy became the first woman to own and operate a hotel-casino.
Vanessa Selbst is regarded as the greatest female poker of all time. She hit the scene during the Las Vegas World Series in 2006 and has since racked up the most tournament earnings for a female player, exceeding a whopping US$11,800,000. With three WSOP bracelets, Selbst is the only female to reach the first position on the Global Poker Index.
Female Gamblers Leading the Way
Since the 1850s, women have been winning tournaments at live gambling events and online. It’s about time that online casinos grasped that their female demographic isn’t only bingo players and that there are females out there who are serious about gambling and even more serious about winning.