While the typical ideal of a gambler is a suave guy a la James Bond, the reality is that there are some serious female competitors out there, making their presence known at the roulette wheels and poker tables around the world- after all gambling isn’t just something for the boys!
These days, thanks to casinos being less the preserve of men, women are taking their place at the wheels and tables to enjoy a flutter with the UK Gambling Commission showing that 44% of women admit to having gambled.
Not to be outshone by the boys, even back in the good ol’ days, there were notorious women gamblers who weren’t the scarlet women of the movies but a collection of hard bitten tough nuts, who could take on the men at what was always seen as their own game.
There were a cast of seriously talented gamblers who were known as Frontier Gamblers, they were in the southern states of the US making waves on the green baize at the same time as the cowboys were running the frontier towns.
Meet Alice Ivers or “Poker Alice”, she wasn’t your typical poker player- in her more senior years she was famed for smoking a big cigar while she beat the pants off the male competition at the poker table.
She started life in rural Devon, England, before her family moved stateside. After being taught poker by her first hubbie, Alice showed a real aptitude for the game and became a poker dealer!
She apparently opened Poker Palace, a saloon and poker hall in South Dakota which was rumoured to also host other less seemly activities! After soldiers ran amock in her establishment on a Sunday, the religious day of rest, Alice allegedly shot a man dead- but her conviction was overturned. Alice was renowned as a skilled poker player and a business woman who was a very successful gambler until a ripe old age!
Another Wild West gal Lottie Deno, had a less volatile life than Poker Alice but nonetheless she lived at a time where a gambling woman was virtually unknown. Growing up in Kentucky, Lottie learnt her love of a good wager from her father, he loved to bet on horses and taught her to play roulette. Circumstances forced Lottie into taking up gambling to earn a living for her family and her skill and beauty made her a popular player. Lottie’s moniker tells says it all, “Lottie Dinero” made a fortune playing on river boats and becoming an in- house card player in San Antonio Texas. She was supposed to have famously bested the gunslinger and gambler Doc Holliday. And her success and cool head earned her a place as a character in the western movie Gunfight at the OK Corral.
There are some serious contemporary women stealing a march on the men with famous journalist, author and presenter Victoria Coren Mitchell, (married to the comedian David Mitchell) making her mark beyond the broadcast and journalistic world. She is the first woman to win the European Poker Tour and is the only player to have won two European Poker Tour titles!
Victoria won The European Poker Tour London (2006), She won a tournament of the Celebrity Poker Club (2005) at the European Poker Tour in Sanremo (2014).
She has also appeared on several episodes of TV shows dedicated to professional gamblers.
Soul songstress and Grammy Award winning artist Gladys Knight is a famous gambler who has since forgone the pleasures of a flutter but for a decade she was a keen Baccarat and sports gambler. And this talented woman isn’t alone in enjoying the spotlight and the casino. Famed beauty and actress Pamela Anderson found herself a husband in the casino after she met her one-time love over a roulette wheel in Las Vegas.
So as you can see the drama and action of the next turn of a card or the spin of the wheel is as thrilling for everyone. There have always been talented gambling gals out there whether they’re on the wild frontiers or playing in some of London’s most salubrious casinos!