Nick and Mike go over all the latest news about online MTTs, including the latest announcement that partypoker is launching a weekly guaranteed $1 million tournament. We then compare and contrast the early performance of Pennsylvania online casinos with those in New Jersey. And then pokerfuse’s own Samantha Bevington sits in on a discussion about Women in Poker that touches on her interview with Daiva Byrne, the clothing debacle at Battle of Malta and more!


Full Transcript

Mike: Hello and welcome everybody to The Pokerfuse Podcast. It is October 24th, 2019. I’m your host Mike Gentile, along with my co-host Nick Jones. Coming up on the podcast this week: With the busy fall season underway, the online poker industry is kicking into high gear and operators are ramping up their tournament offerings. We take a look at the latest from ipoker, partypoker and pokerstars. Pennsylvania has released revenue figures for its second full month since launching online slots and casino games. We’ll take you through some of the topline numbers and see how they stack up to the early days of the NK market. And to wrap things up, we Samantha Bevington to the pod to talk about her interview with professional poker player Davia Byrne and some of the issues facing women in poker today.

The latest news about online MTTs incl. the partypoker Million

Nick: The autumn period marks the beginnings of a high season in online poker. It kicks off around the time of the big September tournament festivals which we talked about in the podcast a few weeks ago. What we also see is operators rethinking some of their weekly tournament schedules, their regular offerings, and promotions to get ready for this busier period. In the last week, we’ve seen iPoker release a new weekly schedule revamp that. We’ve seen partypoker continue with a flurry of activity again focused on tournament with a whole new weekly tournament schedule which got quite a lot of people talking. A new satellite system and a new million-dollar guaranteed Sunday tournament. We also will take a look at PokerStars who might have some decisions to make themselves with their Sunday Million Tournament.

Mike: Wow. It’s quite a lot of things on the plate there for us to talk about. Which of those things Nick do you think is most significant and/or most exciting?

Nick: Well, I think I mean, we’ll do them in order they were announced because the iPoker story perhaps is not the most significant. Although it’s interesting to see them reawaken from quite a long period of time that we’ve heard nothing out of the network. They did a bit of PR in the last couple of weeks. They ran a new tournament festival. They ran a couple this year, but they’ve been really, really quiet. I haven’t really talked them up at all. This time around they released a new brand called DOJ series. I think it was their first progressive knockout only tournament series or at least one branded in that way. I think that’s ongoing now, and then they followed this up with a new weekly tournament schedule which I believe came into effect the beginning this week or perhaps next week. Yes. It’s good. The main takeaway there is just to see them rethink their offering and restructure those they’re offering because sometimes it’s easy to forget that they’re out there and still the top online poker network and a lot of big brands on their network.

The main thing they’ve done is hard to gauge how what players are really going to benefit from this. They haven’t— it’s not like all of a sudden they’re guaranteeing twice as much as they did before but it seems like they have a fairly— they’ve rethought the consistency of the schedule. There’s a lot more tournament on it in general particularly at the low end in the micro stakes which for iPoker micro stakes is under a Euro. They’ve I think more than doubled the number of tournaments, so I think they will have just get the numbers here over 400 tournaments a week at the one year or less level which is more than double than what they have in their existing schedule. For the tournament under 10 Euros that’s increased by another I think 40 or 50 percent. I think there’s 700 now in the schedule. They’ve added a bunch more to the schedule to try and appease some lower stakes players.

Mike: Yes. It does seem like it’s been quite a while since we’ve talked about iPoker and specifically about tournaments over at iPoker. I can’t help but wonder if this is a result of MPN closing down. We talked about a couple of weeks ago that MPN, Microgaming Poker Network, is winding things down coming to an end. They were the other big online poker network outside of iPoker. It’s yet to be determined where some of those rooms are actually going to end up. Perhaps iPoker is doing what it can right now to try and look attractive to those rooms and hoping to boost its overall numbers.

Nick: Yes, it would certainly make sense that you know there’s over a dozen skins are looking for a new home, iPoker clearly the obvious choice for a lot of them. Without getting to this topic in too much detail I made in a future podcast, we can dive a bit more into that. Yes, I think it would absolutely be smart to revamp their offer. I imagine conversations are ongoing now with some of the top brands about bringing them over to their network. That was iPoker’s news. Good to see them just reinvigorated. We are looking at their offer.

Then partypoker came with their announcement. It’s hard to keep pace with the announcements that they have. I think maybe their own PR team struggles to keep pace with their announcements. A lot of the information will come from Rob’s Twitter feed. Where he’ll throw out you know almost like a live blog update and with pretty sweeping changes.

Mike: He’s getting out ahead of the PR team you think?

Nick: That’s definitely our primary source of information at the moment. Maybe a few days later we’ll get the official stuff in the inbox. That’s definitely the current leader that the first channel. What’s come out in the last week or two. The major on is a complete overhaul of the weekly MTT schedule. It’s hard to break down exactly what’s changed changing compare from before or after. I’d say the top line is, it seems almost unanimous that everyone thinks it’s an improvement and everyone’s welcome to change. Which is nearly impossible to do. Because you look at a weekly tournament schedule you’re trying to appeal to such a broad spectrum of players people who like freezeouts, people who want games to start early so they don’t run on too late. People who want obviously big guarantees. People who are high rollers. People who want multiple re-entries. People who just like freezeouts. Trying to get all of them saying that your revamp is great and not, “Oh, no, you forgot about the tiny niche that I like my Omaha high load tournament is no longer running at 6 PM so that I won’t be able to play it or whatever.

All I’ve seen so far is people welcoming the changes. That alone is an impressive feat. I will say it seems a much more cohesive they’re offering. Similar to what we just said about iPoker. I think they have three or four clear brands, a Bounty Builder, a turbo brand, and a hyper brand that run I think like every hour or something like that. I think it’s just more predictable. They have three days a week dedicated to certain types. Yes, we’ve got deep snack and bounty hunter brands. They run every 60 minutes. I think that throughout the week. They’ve generally tried to address tournaments running on too late to lead a start early or have slightly faster structures. So even if you run deep you’re not still playing at 6:00 in the morning.

I think they’ve been pretty aggressive with their guarantees. I think they’ve one way to get everybody saying the schedule is great. Is if people think that there’s a lot of value and a lot of overlays in these in tournaments. Again, I won’t say we haven’t done a deep comparison between before and after and often it’s very tricky because you’re looking at literally thousands of tournament. My gut here is that there’s a lot of value, particularly in the high rollers. I think that they have been really ambitious with the guarantees they slapped on them.

Mike: I was just going to say speaking of big guarantees, the press release that came out today was the announcement of the return of the poker million with one million dollar guarantee now. That PR came out today. I also did notice that we had reported on their previously and poker industry pro. It wasn’t perhaps new to everyone.

Nick: This was— Again, going back to what we said at the start of this is a Rob Yong on first on Twitter running a poll going. How crazy would it be if we weren’t brand a one million dollar Sunday tournament just like the old days? Would you play it. Then a week later there’s Rob on Twitter saying it’s going to run. Then he said a week after that the PR team can finally get caught up. This no criticism of them. I think just trying to keep pace with everything they’re doing is difficult. In some respects, a direct shot at PokerStars. We’ll touch on that in a bit. The top line here is I think it’s just a one-off. It’s [crosstalk] they’re not saying this is going to be every Sunday.

Mike: That’s the question I have because the actual press release is titled partypoker announces the return of weekly one million guarantee partypoker million. If I look through the contents of this press release, they’re talking about multiple day ones that stretch over, I think, it’s two weeks.

Nick: Yes. You’re absolutely right. I’m reading your website here. I’m behind the times there. The website says the partypoker million will run weekly starting October 27th. They are planning to run it weekly. They have four-day ones starting on Sundays, they’re going to have one Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and then Sunday and then with the day two starting that same Sunday.

On a Sunday, you both got a day one for next week’s and day two of the current week’s tournament. They are absolutely— [chuckles] I think when we wrote our article, it was based on what Rob had tweeted and it was just going to be okay, we’re going to try this once. That is certainly the impression we got but no, it seems like they’re going to try this on a weekly basis. This is fascinating.

It’s a $215 buy-in tournament which is technically a freezeout. In that respect, it’s a direct show of what PokerStars have done which is they’ve reduced their iconic Sunday Million to a $109 buy-in tournament and it allows three re-entries. Of course, this is four-day ones, and you can enter every day one.

In many respects, in my mind, it allows three re-entries because you can enter every day, but those individual day one flights are freezeout but you can. I think you can have four shots of them. I assume the last day one’s going to be at turbo because it starts at 4:00 PM. They structured it so it doesn’t run until 6:00 in the morning, which is a common complaint of the PokerStars Sunday Million.

This is actually a huge play. I was thinking this is a one-off, this is a fascinating attempt from partypoker to directly target what PokerStars is doing.

Mike: Outside of the first week, there are going to be two of these tournaments running every week. One with a day one and the other which will be concluding that weekend. Is that correct?

Nick: Correct. Yes, every Sunday, that you’re going to have a day one D like a turbo, and then day two starting at 7:00 PM. They’ll run through into the early morning. Also you have a day one A starting at 8:00 PM for the next Sunday. In theory, you could be sitting there playing a turbo day one D that enters day two, and then you could start your next week’s progress with a day one A at the same time. That’s pretty smart. If you’re a grinder you can be playing two partypoker millions, one this week, deep in day two, and the next one starting your journey for next week. That’s really interesting. I’m not sure if anyone has done that before.

Mike: I haven’t seen it, yes.

Nick: That’s smart. As you say so $215 million buy-in a tournament, they’re saying the last time that partypoker run a million-dollar weekly tournament was 13 years ago. Yes, fascinating, shortly we’ll see, the first one is running now. We’re recording this on a Thursday, so day one C is running this evening. This Sunday will be the first day too, we will see how many entries that gets.

Mike: My question is, do you think that this will— Is this a zero-sum game? Are they going to be competing with PokerStars here or are they going to be boosting the overall interest in big guaranteed tournaments on a Sunday?

Nick: Yes, this is a theme that we talk a lot about whenever we talk about MTTs which is unlike cash games, it’s almost feels like you want high volume plays and you feel that can be somewhat additive to your competitors. Someone else is running a tournament, you can ride on those coattails a bit because the big grind is more than happy to also fire up your tournament in addition to the PokerStars tournament. There’s always some kind of symbiotic relationship.

With that said though, there are a huge number of players out there, casual players who want to play one, $100 or $200 buy-in tournament a week and they will decide which do I prefer? Which structure do I prefer? Which do I find more prestigious? Which has fishier players or which has the software I prefer? There’s actually being an EP going out there and making the call saying, “Michael, do want to play PokerStars 109 or do I now want to try out partypoker mediums and take my money there?”

It’s a direct show that what PokerStars has done in changing their Sunday Million. It’ll be interesting to see whether players take out partypoker on their offer instead of what PokerStars are offering.

Mike: Yes, even if we look down the ladder a bit to those with even smaller bank roles, they could be making decisions to what satellites they’re going to play in. Trying to get into these big tournaments.

Nick: Yes, absolutely. In fact, something we should talk about is that partypoker are also running, in addition to the satellite schedule, to the headlining partypoker million, they’re also running a micro million and a mini million. The micro million is a $2 bind tournament with a 20,000 guarantee, and the mini is a 22 bind for 200,000 guarantee.

That’s an interesting top choice that those with smaller wallets can choose to either try and satellite into the big guy, or they have their own kind of pretty prestigious. I’m just trying to see their schedules if they’re structuring the micro-mini the same. Yes, I think they are. They’re also going to have four-day ones. You can participate in that still same kind of big-ticket event, but just with all the numbers down to 20% or 10% of the big guys. It’s a big offer from partypoker.

Mike: This is definitely something that we are going to want to revisit in a couple of weeks to see what kind of success they’ve had with this. It sounds like it’s going to be, I hope this is not overstating it, it sounds like it’s going to be a game-changer. It sounds like this is really interesting and something that will capture the attention of players.

Nick: Yes, I think so. I think we can touch on briefly where PokerStars are with their Sunday Million and how that might be impacted and what they’re doing as well. As we mentioned, we talked about on this podcast in the past, they switch their Sunday Million to $100 buy-in. So they’re keeping the guarantee the same. They need twice as many people, but obviously, it costs half as much to enter. They’ve been doing this for nine months now, something like that, and they’re going into the high season now and maintaining that structure.

There was some criticism about it losing its prestige, but at the same time, obviously, opens up to more players. What we’ve seen is that, initially, it was extremely successful. We saw numbers dwindling. We saw one overlay in the summer. It was a pretty substantial one. I think it was 10%-plus overlay to this event. Then what we saw was PokerStars do— It’s also switched to three re-entries. There used to be a freezeout years and years ago. They added a single re-entry, I want to say last summer. It could be two summers ago. Now it’s gone to three re-entries.

Obviously, the more re-entries you add, the easier it is to cover that guarantee because if there’s an overlay, people are going to want to re-enter to the point that there’s no overlay anymore. What we saw over the summer after that overlay that they had, is that they run it three or four times as a progressive knockout tournament. We did an article at the beginning of this month where three of the last four that they’d run had been progressive knockout tournaments. Every time they run it as a PKO— PKO is so bizarre.

Lots of people criticize it. They don’t want to play bounty tournaments. It changes the game quite a lot, but the reality is they are very successful. Every time PokerStars try to PKO Sunday Million, turnout was huge. It would go 20%, 30% over the guarantee, consistently. Every time they did it, they saw a bump. Without it, they just about— Last Sunday, they got like 200 or 300 entries over what they needed. So like 2% over, 3% over or something. So it’s right on the line thereof just covering the guarantee. When they do a PKO, it’s thousands over.

Mike: Let me interrupt, Nick. So just for those listeners that may not know what a PKO is or a progressive knockout, tell us a little bit about how that works.

Nick: Okay. Any kind of knockout tournament works that everyone has some part of your buy-in goes on your head, and if somebody knocks you out, then they win that as a bounty. A progressive means that if you win someone’s bounty, you win some of that, but some of that goes on your head. Traditionally, it’s 50/50. You’ve got $50 on your head, you knock someone out, you take $25 as prize for knocking that person out, but then 25 gets added to your head. The more people you knock out, the more people want to try and knock you out.

To the point of when you get to the final table, everyone’s got big bounties on their head. So knocking people out is as valuable as going deeper in the tournament. It’s a fun novelty that has become a huge part of the schedule. Right at the start of this segment, we talked about iPoker, they just run their PKO exclusive tournament series. Every operation now has some brand for a PKO exclusive tournament series. iPoker’s weekly schedule is now heavily PKO.

partypoker has been for a long time. PokerStars is right now running their bounty builders PKO exclusive tournament series with 25 million guaranteed. It’s an absolute top tier brand now for them. So everyone’s got this. Yes, the Sunday Million, as I say, has been run by PKO, and every time they do, it’s very successful because people love playing progressive knockouts. PokerStars will be sitting there every weekend like, “Why scrape by just covering when we run it as a PKO people absolutely love it?”

The thing is you do that, that’s going to play in to party poker 's hands because they’ll say we run the only traditional proper Sunday Million Style tournament so it comes to us. It comes down to this does PokerStars want to be principled about it and think long term and think, “No this is a prestigious brand, it’s this kind of tournament,” or do they go, “No, let’s do what the players want right now and what they clearly want is PKOs and that brings in thousands of more players, so let’s do that.”

How does the start of online casinos in Pennsylvania compare to New Jersey?

Mike: State of Pennsylvania, while they still don’t have online poker has come out with revenue figures for their second full month of Interactive Gaming. Interactive Gaming as defined by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board includes online slots, online table games, and poker. While we still don’t have poker, the numbers coming out do seem to indicate that perhaps Pennsylvania is not performing as well as its neighboring state New Jersey did when they first launched. Nick, have you taken a look at some of the numbers that have come on out?

Nick: No, haven’t really. So tell me, I mean before we dig into the numbers like who is operational for casino games in Pennsylvania and sports betting and how do the two compare those two verticals?

Mike: Well, we’re going to- We’ll take a look at the casino numbers right now. Sports betting there’s quite a few operators there, for casino, we only have three. There’s Hollywood Casino Parks and SugarHouse and while online sports betting is vastly more successful than the casino game counterparts, it’s not something that we can compare to the same period in New Jersey. When New Jersey launched, they did not have the online sportsbooks or land-based sportsbooks for that matter to compete with their casino games. That is one of the big differences in the two markets making it much more difficult to compare from one state to the next but it’s a feature that along with not having online poker, for example, is one of the things that is a difference-maker from one market to the other.

Nick: If we just look at online casino then month one and month two in Pennsylvania, how much lower is it compared with month one a month two in New Jersey that we saw four or five years ago?

Mike: The total, when New Jersey launched, they launched toward the end of November in 2013 and Pennsylvania we saw launch mid-month in July. If we look at the second full month, which is only maybe about a week or two difference between the two markets, pretty comparable, we can look at the total that has been produced by online casinos. What we see that was in New Jersey, there was a total of $11 million in total produced from online casinos in New Jersey after their second full month which is very different from the total we see in Pennsylvania, which is at $8.4 million. While you would say $8.4 million compared to $11 million maybe it’s not that different, the difference comes in with the size of the population. New Jersey has 70% of the population of Pennsylvania and yet produced 30% more revenue over a similar period of time. That to me is quite significant.

Nick: To put it another way per capita in New Jersey is well outperforming Pennsylvania.

Mike: Yes, they are.

Nick: Do you think that’s because New Jersey had a better-coordinated launch with operators so there was more marketing advertising drive and again, it was coordinated with the poker launch? Would do you think there are other factors involved there?

Mike: Yes both of those are big huge factors. One of the things is that we look at in an article that will be posted soon on Pokerfuse is just that, we look at the time of year, for example, that both markets launched. Pennsylvania launched in the dead of summer, not particularly a high time for online gaming, whereas New Jersey had the benefit of December and January being its first two full months to generate revenue, a time when people are more likely to be indoors. So that’s one factor.

No poker, that that’s a big factor. Someone might look at that and say, “Well, poker might serve to compete with the online casino games but poker is viewed by operators as more of an ability to cross-sell. It’s a player acquisition tool that Pennsylvania doesn’t currently have, that New Jersey had at launch. Yes, as you mentioned, marketing dollars is another big thing. With the launch in New Jersey, six online casinos went live right away, compared to just three that we see here in Pennsylvania. While you don’t have players competing for seats at a virtual slot machine, you do have less money overall flowing into the marketing of the new market that has come online, which is the online casino games are available for people to play. Those are some of the factors.

As we touched on earlier, sports betting, I think that while poker is more of a player acquisition tool, I don’t think sports betting has the same kind of cross-sell. At least we haven’t seen evidences of such yet. The population of sports betting, particularly online sports betting, I think definitely has had a negative impact on the overall revenue that we’ve seen come out of Pennsylvania for their online casino games in the first two months.

Nick: It speaks to me just about how, I suppose comparatively, how well New Jersey did. Again, so going back, it’s in fact close to six years, if you think 2013 that the market opened. Then how well they did in just coordinating a launch, I remember when, obviously, we were mostly focusing on the online poker but we had half a dozen brands launching three or four networks overnight. They came online with casino offers. This is the first time really that it happened.

Then we’d had Nevada private first time that we had a real open market, and they managed to coordinate operators, geo-location tools, really for the first time, and dealing with the border issues that you have in that state, so close to two other states, payment providers, credit cards and their issues their, affiliates as well, which were regulated really for the first time. That all happened relatively smoothly compared to now, six years later.

Definitely, when we just look at poker, it seems like no one quite knows when we might see the first online poker room, where the delays at the regulatory side, at the testing side, at the operator end. The process has just been excruciatingly slow, from the affiliate side as well. That whole process is extremely laborious and costly. It’s ultimately is coming out piecemeal, where before we had one big launch, there was advertising, there was investment. Now it’s bit by bit. We have a sportsbook coming online here. We have a couple of— Another casino comes online, maybe poker will come next week. It’s shambolic in comparison, really, and that’s with six years of learning.

Mike: Don’t get people excited that we’re expecting poker next week. Yes, you’re right. It’s given all the lessons that Pennsylvania could have built upon that came out of New Jersey six years earlier, it’s, it’s a bit surprising that it has been this disjointed. It could be all down to sports betting. It could be that all of the online gaming companies are putting their attention on what they think is going to generate them the most revenue, and that very well could be online sports.

There’s other factors as well. I think back when New Jersey launched, there was a lot more excitement in the US overall for the advent of online gaming, where it was new, we were a lot closer, just a couple of years removed from Black Friday. I think that people’s expectations were high, but given that we went six years and didn’t see another state come online, perhaps that excitement died down a bit.

Then you throw in everything that happened this year with the Wire Act. I’m sure that that has had some impact on online poker operators, specifically, and their motivation to work through the process to get their products to market because without the promise of joining up player pools with other states, perhaps they’re thinking that just it may not be worth it.

Nick: Well, one more question for you, just going back to what you were saying, comparing New Jersey and Pennsylvania, I just wonder if another factor here is just New Jersey is a bigger gaming state. They have Atlantic City, they have all the big casino brands. Maybe it’s just although per capita revenues is a lot lower in Pennsylvania. Maybe it’s the per capita of gamblers is actually is not so different just because there’s so much more attention to that industry.

Mike: Yes, Pennsylvania is a very— they have had a very successful casino industry. They’ve been able to maintain with some of the highest taxes on casino games. Their land-based industry it’s been quite successful, so successful that the operators have not been afraid to expand into online gaming. They’re both pretty big gaming states. One thing though is and I believe and this is coming off the top of my head. I believe New Jersey is one of the richest states per capita. Maybe there’s the factor that it is, there’s more disposable income in that state and that has led to some other success. I’m just speaking from memory here. I’m not entirely sure. I believe that yeah New Jersey is one of the more richer states per capita. That definitely could have played a part in their success with their online gaming.

Nick: It’s not like Pennsylvania is on the low end of the spectrum when it comes to [crosstalk] .

Mike: A neighboring state as well. It’s not even like there’s some regional differences that would play a big factor here either.

Nick: I look forward to reading all of that analysis on more in the poker feeds article coming up this week. Do go and check that out if you want a deeper dive into the numbers and analysis.

A discussion about Women in Poker incl. Daiva Byrne, Battle of Malta and more!

Mike: This week Pokerfuse we had an interview with professional poker player Daiva Byrne. It was conducted by our very own Samantha Bevington who I would like to officially welcome to the podcast for the first time. Samantha, welcome.

Samantha: Hi, thanks for this, Mike. It’s been a long time coming.

Mike: Yes, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you talked with Dave about and give the listeners a bit of a preview into what’s in your article.

Samantha: Yes, met Dave back in March. It was actually a PokerStars event. It was for International Women’s Day. She was just there as a member of the public basically as was I. I just thought she was great. She’s such a lovely person. Beyond that, she’s a great poker player. She has set up an initiative called Fantastic Ladies in Poker. Which is basically a closed Facebook group where she encourages women from all walks of life to play live poker. She sees it as really important to get more women playing live events.

Mike: Interesting. I was reading the article. There were a number of things that caught my attention. One thing in specific was that she had a number. That jumped out at me that I think was 20% of online poker players are women. Is that correct?

Samantha: Yes, that’s what she’s said in the interview. That I think 15 to 20% of online players made out of women and online that’s less than 10%. I think to her it’s really important to move the need on that live event number to try and yeah get more women into the game basically.

Mike: That’s interesting. She is a sponsored pro currently, correct?

Samantha: Yes. She now is with Betsson as a sponsored pro.

Mike: She was recently in headlines. I think from the Battle of Malta. Yes, there was a ladies event there. What don’t you tell us a little bit about what happened?

Samantha: It made headlines on twisted definitely. I would say there’s a ladies event during the Battle of Malta. The head honchos had come up with an idea that it would be great for the dealers to come out who were all men without their shirts on.

Mike: Chippendale style.

Samantha: Chippendale style but maybe without the Chippendale body. From what I saw on Twitter I wasn’t there. It backfired spectacularly, all the women that were playing that event seemed pretty annoyed that someone would think that will be appropriate during the ladies event. Actually Daiva was one, I could think of three women during the first break that they got playing the tournament they went and found someone and said, “Look this is demeaning to both us and the dealers you really need to go and get them to put their shirts back on.” Which I think they did do which is good.

Mike: Kudos.

Samantha: I think it shocked everyone a little bit that something that would happen in 2019.

Mike: I saw a little bit of that unfold on Twitter, I didn’t know that they actually were able to get them reclothed but that sounds like a big win.

Samantha: Absolutely. I think it’s good though as well that Daiva is not just— she’s practicing what she preaches, she wants more women in poker and she felt that that was demeaning and degrading. Like I said for both the dealer and for women and she is just not on Twitter complaining about something she’s actually there on the ground trying to create change.

Mike: As I was watching it unfold and I need to preface this by saying that I consider myself to be very pro-women in poker. I think the game can only benefit from getting more balance between the genders so I’m definitely all for that. I know that things are often controversial when it comes to how to achieve that or even if it should be achieved I know that some people will pushback against that notion on its own. For example, one thing is should we have women-only poker tournaments? There was quite a debate what was it last year between— do you remember? On Twitter.

Samantha: I think if we are remembering the same thing, it was actually more than a year or so ago and it was— wasn’t there a panel and it Sarah Herring on it from PokerNews and a few other people and they were all talking about women in poker and getting more live events. Maybe you’re thinking of something else.

Mike: I’m not sure I know that there was quite— women on both sides arguing for and against the idea of women-only tournaments. I know that when a group is underrepresented there’s often a move to try and segregate themselves in order to build it up and I think that’s what we are seeing with women in poker. They want to have their own tournaments so that women can feel comfortable and not be intimidated by men at the table the opposite end of that argument is, “Hey if you really want equality then why are you having your own tournaments.” I’m curious where do you come down on that topic?

Samantha: I think it’s really interesting because I too have seen a lot of women come out and say the women’s only events are the wrong way to go. People like Daiva are definitely saying that no it’s a great way for women to start building their confidence and actually I’m with her on this. I think although we should live in a society where there aren’t women’s only events and poker is one of those games where gender doesn’t matter. I think having the confidence to go into a room full of strangers and them being all men and maybe feeling not very confident with your own poker skills I’m wondering how that’s gonna be at the table. Whether you’re gonna get pushback on that, whether you’re going to feel welcome, whether people are gonna basically take the peace or not. I think creating a safe space which basically is what Daiva is doing, she’s saying that we are creating this community and this really welcoming safe environment for you to learn and to practice and to play and to win. I see the benefit in that and to be honest is something if I had more time that I would love to do because although I’m feeling like a confident person I’m not confident in my poker ability and then going and sitting at a table or walking into a casino filled with old men I think I would like to get the experience under my belt to maybe do that with all women to start with rightly or wrongly, I can see the benefits in that.

Mike: I fall on the same side of that argument as you and Daiva, I do think there is a place, I think that in order to build up the number of women which I see as a perfectly fine objective, but in order to do that we do have to have these I don’t know incubators or nurturing environments that allow that growth to happen because without it it’s going to take a lot longer if it happens at all.

I don’t always agree with things that I see, I know that even for this Battle of Malta thing the way that it was framed I just thought it could have been done better, it was framed as a woman’s issue and I think that having a half-naked dealer at the table is offensive to everybody. I don’t think it’s only the women that would be offended there and if it were a men’s tournament and there was a half-naked woman as a dealer I think it would equally has been looked upon as offensive and even if there was a half-naked man I guess I don’t see it as genders specific to be offended by the introduction of sex as a promotional tool in poker. I just feel like while it was framed that way for this particular incident I think what they did is that allowed those people that may be against the movement or against increasing the number of women in poker, it gave them ammunition to push back against whereas if you had presented that as not you personally and not anybody personally but if it was presented more as an issue with poker, in general, I think it would serve to potentially alienate less people and be more inclusive.

Samantha: Yes, I know what you’re saying. I think with this masses specifically because it happened at a ladies-only event and it hadn’t happened any of the other events that were running during the Battle of Malta, it became a woman’s issue because they basically made it one. I think if it had happened before even after we would be talking more broadly about how inappropriate that is. Imagine if you were a dealer and five minutes before told you need to take your shirt off, it would be awful. It’s awful whoever and whatever I just think in this particular instance because it happened at a lady’s event they made it a women’s issue.

Mike: Yes. I mean that’s a pretty big employment issue. Your employer tells you you have to take your shirt off to go to work. That’s a big issue on its own but I have no idea what the laws are over there in Malta so I can’t even begin to comment on that one. It was definitely an interesting week and a very timely article if you haven’t had a chance to read it go over to Pokerfuse and take a look and we look forward more from you to come, Sam.

Samantha: Cool, thanks for having me.


Mike: Well, that wraps up this episode of the pokerfuse podcast. As a reminder, please give us a like and a subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow us and interact with us on Twitter. Nick is at @pokerprojones. I am @SpookyBugs. Thanks, everyone for tuning in.