You may know Daiva Byrne best as Baltic_Blonde on Twitter, as Betsson’s latest  poker ambassador, or as the founder of the world’s largest female-onl…
Photograph by Jean Pierre Gatt

You may know Daiva Byrne best as Baltic_Blonde on Twitter, as Betsson’s latest poker ambassador, or as the founder of the world’s largest female-only poker community on Facebook, Fantastic Ladies of Poker (FLIP).

Always advocating for more women in poker, Byrne works tirelessly to create an environment that nurtures women from all walks of life to join live poker games.

We caught up with Byrne to learn all about FLIP and her new role at Betsson just before she jetted off to play in The Malta Poker Festival where she will be hosting a ladies event on November 2.

Tell us a little about your motivations behind creating the ladies FLIP group on Facebook. Did you see a gap in the market for this kind of space for women to come together?

Since I was introduced to poker, which was around 15 years ago now, I always was unsettled by the fact that there was an unnecessarily large gap between the number of male and female players at the tables, and I felt there should/could be more done in terms of attracting more woman to the game.

I think it is very important to have more diversity at the tables as this creates a more enjoyable playing/working environment for everyone involved as well as helping to grow the poker ecosystem.

Since becoming a professional poker player I had a number of ideas about how to encourage more women to join the game but settled with the online female-only community, where everybody is welcome regardless of if you are a professional, a recreational player or just someone interested in following female poker news and gossip.

You will have an opportunity to follow our diverse membership’s poker journeys and be kept up to date on the latest developments in poker—especially those related to women. FLIP—Fantastic Ladies in Poker—is all about women supporting and celebrating each other’s achievements, planning upcoming poker trips and local get-togethers, discussing hands and various topics posted by community members. The more women can see other women being successful, the more chance there is that they will make the transition from playing online/having an interest in poker, to playing live.

If you could sum up the group in 5 words, what would they be?

Friendly, supportive, positive, fun community.

What can ladies joining the group expect?

I have met some of my closest friends in poker through the FLIP community, so one of the most positive elements of being part of the community is the chance for new members to meet like-minded people and build new poker friendships. It also helps provide a support network for those making their first forays into the game.

You will have an opportunity to follow our diverse membership’s poker journeys and be kept up to date on the latest developments in poker—especially those related to women.

You will also have a ready-made platform to share your successes at any level and start new conversations. FLIP runs various freerolls and giveaways for community members only with major partners. I have been building a closer relationship with both MPN and Betsson Poker, who not only share the same passion as me regarding the growth of women in poker but also host some of the most fun poker festivalsWe have an exciting new partnership with Betsson which has given members the chance to win packages to events—just a few days ago we gave away a €1,300 package to the Malta Poker Festival Ladies First! event which I will be hosting on November 2.

How do you find the time to run the group as well as being a full-time poker player and brand ambassador?

I guess I love being busy and women in general are great at multi-tasking…. but in all honesty, it is a big extra commitment, as I spend a couple of hours a day working on the group; responding to messages, collating material for content and creating posts, as well as looking for new ways on how to grow this wonderful community, but I really enjoy every aspect of this day-to-day operation.

I feel very passionate about the subject and meeting lots of happy community members at the live events, telling me how they would never be there if it wasn’t for the FLIP group, makes it all worthwhile. I would like to take this opportunity and say a big thank you to all of them for continuous support and loyalty, and I am especially grateful to my lovely friend Donna Morton, who is the main moderator, for all her hard work.

I am primarily a live player, and since attending the MPN Poker Tour stop in Prague in May, I have been building a closer relationship with both them and the Betsson Poker brand who not only share the same passion as me regarding the growth of women in poker but also host some of the most fun poker festivals too. It is great to be building a new partnership with a brand who reflects my passion for the game.

We have run a few online freerolls for the FLIP members which were a very successful, and we continue to develop new ideas to elevate the game in general for the female community.

The next stop of the MPN Poker Tour has just been announced and it is in the exciting, vibrant city of Madrid next February. I am hoping we can run some special promotions for the group and get over quite a few FLIP community members for this event.

Tell us more about your meetups/get-togethers. What can ladies expect from these, and what is your experience from running them?

We usually meet at the live events but I tend to organize a nice lunch and/or drinks gathering before the ladies events mainly, especially the ones I host. I make a post a few days prior in the group including time and location of the venue and everyone is welcome to join in. I will be organizing a FLIP catch-up for the Ladies First! event in Malta. I am really excited about this one, and it will be lots of fun hanging out with everyone in such a beautiful sunny location.

Ladies events are essential to developing a new generation of female poker playersAnother reason for players gathering together is knowledge sharing. I know that there are a number of private study groups that have developed as a result of women meeting via the FLIP community and deciding to not only travel to live events together but work on their poker game together too. The capacity for women to build knowledge with other like-minded peers should hopefully lead to even more success in the years to come.

Byrne at The Malta Poker Festival. Pic credit Jean Pierre Gatt.

What place do you see Ladies Events having in the poker landscape? Are they a good or bad thing in your opinion?

This can be a polarizing topic, but I honestly think they are essential to developing a new generation of female poker players and subsequently increasing the numbers of women at open events.

I have been organising, promoting and hosting ladies events across the UK and Europe for the last few years and have witnessed a steady increase. I recall one of the first events attracting a handful of players in comparison to last year’s ladies event in Malta which boasted 114 entries. I am hoping to see even more wonderful ladies at the event next month.

The FLIP community has grown from 1 to 3,000+ members in the last two and a half years and just like the ladies events I believe the numbers speak for themselves. There is interest from women in all aspects of poker and I truly believe current members will inspire women to play the game and succeed even more in the years to come. I’ll be working tirelessly to help make this a reality.

What kind of feedback have you had from your community on FLIP?

Everyone is super positive. It is a very diverse group in age range, skill level and poker ambitions, but across the community everyone is very welcoming and inclusive. One post might cover a group member like Ana Marquez winning $400k and another a newbie to the game winning their first event in a local casino. I feel as passionate about poker as I did when I made a decision to become a pro eight years ago.This is the best thing about the group, it makes everyone feel welcome. I guess I find the individual success stories, which we are focusing on with the highest frequency, the most emotionally rewarding ones. I love receiving messages telling me how a player is crushing online after honing their skills on FLIP Freerolls, or low stakes games on Betsson as well as hearing from women bossing the tables at live events after building their confidence up in ladies-only events to playing more tournaments elsewhere.

What are your upcoming plans for the group, and for yourself?

I heard someone in the industry say that around 15-20% of players on the virtual felt are female so I would like to continue working towards achieving this number for the live events too. Women make up less than 10% of entries in the majority of cases, so I would like to see this barrier broken consistently, then build from there.

I hope that by running the largest female-only poker community in the world and providing this closed platform to support and flourish new players that it will contribute somehow to the twin goals of more women in live poker and more success for them. I have always striven to be a female role model in the game and help drive a future where there are far more women at the tables.

I believe that my burgeoning partnership with the talented team behind the Betsson Poker brand will result in some innovative and exciting marketing possibilities to make this a reality.

In regard to myself, I feel as passionate about poker as I did when I made a decision to become a pro eight years ago. In the short term it would be nice to be more successful later in tournaments and close out more final tables and wins, but more importantly I want to find a good balance between continuing growing as a player whilst still enjoying and loving what I do.

I want to continue traveling for poker festivals and tours in new exciting locations, exploring new cultures and meeting fascinating people at the tables. I’m fortunate to have found a job which works perfectly with my approach to life, and I will work hard to continue to succeed and maintain this, while growing as a person and hopefully as a mentor to women across the game.

How can ladies who are keen to join your group do so?

We are on Facebook. It is a closed group so please do not hesitate to send a request to join the Fantastic Ladies in Poker and I will personally approve your request. Look forward to welcoming new members!