Saturday, September 9, 2006

More women try their luck at poker

Whether it's online, in a casino or your neighbor's living room, women are going crazy for poker. Nearly 30 percent of online players are female and the number of women in the Ladies World Series of Poker is up 400 percent.

Taking a seat next to the boys used to make Barbara Enright downright queasy.

"I was so intimidated when I sat down in the game," she said.

That was 30 years ago, before this former hairdresser became a professional poker player. Her advice to women in a man's world: Take chances and push yourself past your comfort zone.

"She has a reputation as a real chip mover," said Luke Grotano of Crystal Casino. "She's very aggressive. She has no fear."

Online or at a casino, Enright keeps her competition guessing by changing her style of play. But she studies her opponents and takes notes on their betting patterns.

"I know what's coming,” she said. “I plan how I'm going to play the hand before I even get the cards."

In poker as in life: Stay focused, talk less, listen more and never get emotional. A mistake Enright calls a "man-thing.”

"They whine at the table,” she said. “Whenever they have a bad hand they throw their cards at the dealer. They have more fits and more tantrums.”

If men underestimate you at the poker table or in the boardroom use it to your advantage, and like Enright, you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Barbara says trust your intuition. She says your first instinct is usually your best bet.