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10 Female Poker Players Who Changed the Game Forever

Female poker players today are giving men a run for their money. But, it hasn’t always been like this. This article delves deep into the 10 best female poker players of all time and their rise to fame.

Poker is a skillful game and regardless of your gender, it’s hard to get to the top. Today, many women sit shoulder to shoulder with the best male players in the sport.

That change took a while to come aboutBut, thanks to a few brave ladies blazing their own trails and not worrying what others thought, more women started to show up and win big tournaments.

Let’s take a look at the rise of women in poker and 10 of the best that changed the game forever.

  1. Barbara Freer

Barbara Freer was the one who initially stepped up for the women in poker. She was the first lady ever to enter an open WSOP main event in 1978, apparently causing disgruntled reactions from many of the other players. Her love of the game and dislike for stereotypes, meant she paved the way for other women to do the same.

Over the years, she entered many more WSOP tournaments, one of which was placing 7th in a Seven Card Stud event in 1989, netting her $14,200. While her results were modest, she became a role model for other women around the globe who followed in her footsteps.

  1. Barbara Enright

Even though some women were starting to show up on the poker tables in the 70s and 80s, the number entering open tournaments was still minimal. Enright was another lady to change this, starting her pro career in 1976.

Enright began her relationship with poker at a young age, playing Five Card Stud with her older brother. In 1986 and 1994 she won WSOP bracelets in ladies’ events. And, in 1995 she cemented her place in history being the first women to reach a WSOP final table at an open event and a year later won that event, pocketing $180,000 for her efforts.

  1. Vanessa Selbst

Vanessa wasn’t even born when the two ladies mentioned above were paving the way for women into poker. But Selbst went on to become the most successful female poker player of all time. She’s the only woman to win three open event WSOP bracelets.

Her phenomenal success netted her around $12 million in winnings, many trophies, two NAPT titles, three WSOP bracelets and made her a role model for many around the world. She is a prime example that skill determines success in poker, not your gender.

  1. Jennifer Harman

Harman made her break onto the poker scene in the 90s. She honed her skills at a young age at small stakes games, while using a fake ID. Later she worked as a cocktail waitress at Harrah’s and started spending time in the poker room after her work ended.

In 2000 and 2002, she won WSOP bracelets in open events, cementing her place in history. While her specialty was Limit Hold’em, the bracelet won in 2000 came from a poker variation called No-Limit Deuce to Seven, which she learned a few hours before the start of the event!

  1. Kathy Liebert

Liebert is a prime example of the ‘’never give up’’ attitude. She entered the world of poker tournaments in the mid-90s and it took her quite a few years before she found the big wins. But, it was all worth it as she won the first ever Party Poker Million event in 2002, banking a cool million.

The years to follow saw her gaining several other successes including runner up for the NLHE $1,500 WSOP event 2003, a $5,000 WPT Foxwood Poker Classic in 2007 and third in the WPT Borgata Poker Open in 2005. Her total winnings sit at $6.5 million, putting her in second place to Selbst on the female poker money list.

  1. Kristen Bicknell

Kristen began playing poker online while studying at college in 2006. Today, her total winnings sit at around $5.1 million and she’s regularly ranked in the Global Poker Index player of the year top 10.

In 2013 she had her first huge live score when she won the WSOP Ladies Championship for $173,922. Her second bracelet came three years later with a Bounty Event win for $290,768. Many more wins followed, cementing her place as one of the best female players of all time.

  1. Liv Boeree

Liv started her pro poker career in the mid-2000s, having her first tournament win in 2008, netting $42,00 in a UK ladies event. Her first big win came at a main event in San Remo where she collected $1.7 million for the title.

This fearless English player has a cool $3.9 million in live tournament winnings and is a three-time European Player of the Year, crowned by the Global Poker Index.

  1. Vanessa Rousso

Vanessa loved poker from an early age, but started playing professionally in 2005. Her first big success came in 2006 when she steam rolled the WPT Borgata event, netting $285,000.

In 2007 she entered the PokerStar Online World Championship, where she took second place for $700,000. PokerStars sat up and noticed this, signing her to the rooms team where she played for years.

Her tournament winnings to date sit at around $3.5 million and her success has put her on the list of the top poker players of all time.

  1. Annie Duke

While Annie left the pro poker circuit in 2011, in her career she netted around $4.3 million in live tournament winnings. In 2000, she finished 10th in a WSOP main event while she was nine months pregnant and bagged herself a WSOP bracelet in 2004 at an Omaha Hi/Lo event.

Alongside her huge successes, Annie did see a few failures with an online poker site and Pro poker tour she started which never took off. But, Annie is an idol for many women in poker, previously being the WSOP leading money winner, before Vanessa Selbst burst onto the scene.

  1. Annette Obrestad

Annette became one of the best-known women poker players ever, after winning the inaugural WSOP Europe for $2 million when she was only 18 years old! Even before this incredible win, she was making waves in the poker world when she played and won an online 180 player tournament, without even looking at her cards!

Several bigger finishes and wins followed, including being a runner up at an EPT Dublin event netting $429,181 and a win at a UKIPT London heads-up event, collecting her $187,788. After gaining around $4 million in live tournament winnings, Annette decided to put her poker career on the back burner in favour for her YouTube channel ‘Annette’s Makeup Corner’.


The world of poker has come a long way since the 70s. Which makes the successes of Freer and Enright in the early days all the more remarkable. Today, many fearless females are seeking their fortunes on the felt, proving to men and the rest of the world they have what it takes to win big.

Without a doubt, 2021 and beyond will see female players becoming more prominent in poker, paving the way for a ton of exciting live action.





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