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Shaun Deeb Toolbox or Female Rights Crusader?

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At the 2010 WSOP Ladies No-Limit Holdem Championship about a dozen guys registered and played the event. Some of them did so because they believe the field to be softer but Shaun Deeb, who started the event in drag, claimed he did it for female poker player rights.

He feels that the special Ladies tournament shouldn't be a part of the World Series of Poker. In his view, women poker players are intelligent and competitive enough to battle it out in the open events and should do so.

I don't have a real strong opinion on whether the Ladies Championship should exist or not but I don't see the harm. What I do have a problem with is how Deeb decided to get his message across. I'm also not convinced that was his motivation but rather an excuse once WSOP officials started threatening banning the men from future events.

Over a thousand women took time out of their lives to head to Las Vegas and pay the $1,000 entry fee (plus travel expenses) for what was billed as a Ladies Tournament. This is a big deal for a lot of them and some were put off when they saw guys at the tables.

In the process of embarrassing himself, Deeb and the other men spoiled the event for some of those competitors and there was no need to do that to get the point he wanted across. Come to think of it... what point does a guy dressing like a girl playing in a woman's tournament really make anyway?

Deeb, and others that feel as he does, could have decided to just protest the event outside without disrupting the players who wanted to be there. Even better. Boycott the whole series and spend it outside the Rio with picket signs to get your point across. Oh wait... that would ruin Deeb's WSOP experience by having to exclude himself rather than ruin the experience for the women that registered for the Ladies Championship. But if he feels so strongly about it he should be willing to make that kind of sacrifice rather than having others suffer through his antics.

If he and others feel they are unfairly discriminated based on their gender, there are appropriate channels to pursue. Deep can even wear lipstick as he files a complaint if he likes.

I get that some of the female poker players like Harman and Duke have their own opinions of the tournament because they are pros and deserve to be taken as seriously as the guys they sit with every day and some aspects of the Ladies Championship don't reinforce the notion that women are just as good as men when it comes to poker, but not every woman who plays poker wants to be a poker pro.

Heck, I'd bet the majority of the players at the open WSOP events are recreational players.

The poker economy depends on recreational players. Pros play poker for a living, recreational players play for the enjoyment of the game and hopefully to win some money. If a number of female poker players enjoy the Ladies Championship why spoil it for them?

We live in the land of the free and if someone feels they are being sexually discriminated or has a legitimate beef with the event they can and should take it up with the WSOP, the Equal Rights Commission, the ACLU, whoever but don't make a mockery of an event that some women look forward to all year. They didn't do anything to deserve having their WSOP experience affected for someone else's opinion.

So what do you think of what Deeb did?

Some other views on the Ladies Championship Event:

  • Annie Duke's thoughts on why she is opposed to the event here.
  • Daniel Negreanu's thoughts on the event and incident here.
  • Nicole Gordon's take on things which are similar to mine here.

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