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Is Poker A Guy Thing?

Suber’s previous entry looks at what type of men like poker, in particular why there are a lot of Jewish winners of poker. Of interest to me as a woman is not so much what type of men, but why mostly men? Several ideas on this…

1. The poker environment. Think of poker and what else comes to mind… cigars, beer, and late nights of betting. This is a male-bonding retreat and women aren’t invited.

2. Poker is math-related, which men are traditionally better at. (Women have this capability, but it traditionally hasn’t been encouraged.) In addition to basic adding and subtracting, statistical probabilities are involved. Poker takes baseball statistics to the next level.

3. Poker is activity-focused, rather than person-focused. Men traditionally get together with male friends only for an activity (“let’s shoot some hoops”), rather than just talking (which sex spends hours on the phone?). A male acquaintance of mine recently commented that after the weather and sports, men don’t talk. He admired women’s ability to carry on lengthy conversations and bond this way. So poker gives men a reason to get together.

4. Competition. Poker, like sports, is competitive… think of a player aggressively throwing down his cards in triumph. Women are less comfortable with overt competitiveness, and tend to prefer collaboration. Computer-game makers now realize that what sells to girls is a story and interesting characters as the main focus.

Some women, of course, enjoy and succeed at poker – these generalizations are only that. So I say, let men enjoy the smoking, drinking, and figuring out if another ace is still out there… as long as they clean up after themselves. As Ali G says, ‘respect.”

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