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Introducing Festival Queens: a Ladies Event With a Twist

Introducing Festival Queens: a Ladies Event With a Twist

In Tallinn the Festival Series is going to run a special Ladies event - a tournament with a twist. It is called Festival Queens and will be held in Tallinn Sunday, July 3 at 13:00 local time. The tournament is affordable for all ladies with a buy-in of €115. And to pump up the prize pool, men can join the tournament for €550.    

We have asked five women of poker what they think about mixing up the Ladies tournament with gentlemen. Here's their stance on our concept:

Anne Bezděk: "We promise to be kind to all men"

Anne Bezděk
Anne Bezděk - (c) Elena Kask

Anne Bezděk is a Finnish poker player whose biggest win came last year in the Tallinn Summer Showdown main event when she finished in 6th place and brought home €12,250. She also did well at the deepstack at the same event and one year before won the Ladies event. She loves Tallinn, because of the nice people, the great casino with good tournament structures and because it is so easy to come to Tallinn from Finland.  

Anne won her first Ladies event in Mariehamn in 2013. What she is most proud of is making it to the final table of the 2015 Battle of Malta - an event with 1,804 entries. To this day she remains the only woman to make make the final table of the Battle of Malta main event.

Anne thinks that we need more women in the poker world and she really likes the idea of having men pay higher buy-in in the Ladies event: "We get a higher prize pool. And we promise to be kind to all men."

When asked if it is fair, should a man would win the tournament, she answered promptly: ”Poker is not fair... So of course, it is fair.”

Noelia Ivars Rico: "Poker is an equal sport, you don't need muscles to win"

Noelia Ivars Rico
Noelia Ivars Rico

Noelia Ivars Rico is a Swedish poker player. She attended our last Festival in Bratislava and did a very good job at the heads-up event even though she was in a hurry to get a flight back home. She almost won it! Besides Texas Hold 'em she enjoys playing PLO and Five Card Draw and of course, all heads-up variants.  

For Noelia, it is important to get more women into poker as it can be intimidating for women to sit around a poker table with 7 - 8 unknown men, especially when they are beginners. She believes that women's events can be an entrance to the poker scene. After having played the first live events, people usually feel more comfortable. 

She thinks that it would be fun to have some men in the ladies event, as long as the women are still the majority. Otherwise the concept would be lost.

Her answer to the question: "If a man would win, do you think it would be fair?" Noelia says: "It's not going to happen. But of course, it would be fair if a man would win. Poker is an equal sport, you don't need muscles to win. On the other hand, you need a lot of brain power and here we all know who has the advantage. But hey, they are all welcome to prove me wrong."

Maureen Bloechlinger: "I wouldn't want to be that man who has a cash in a Ladies event"

Maureen Bloechlinger is a founder of Globetrotting Poker Ladies & Globetrotting Poker, Herzdamen Club. Herzdamen Club is supporting, connecting and helping other women in poker and in life offside the green felt. Maureen is from Switzerland and has live earnings totaling almost $100,000 in The Hendon Mob database. 

What she likes most about poker is the challenge. Although she always plays No-Limit Hold'em, she highlights that there are many dynamics at play and that it's never the same game. 

On the side, she manages Globetrotting Poker and lists all Ladies and Seniors Events.

When asked why Ladies are important in Poker she replied: "I appreciate Ladies Events as they encourage more women to play poker and can be used as a springboard into open fields. Playing poker, especially at a large festival can be intimidating given the number of players and I believe that Ladies events provide an atmosphere to have fun, play poker and learn. If you look at the Hendon Mob profiles of the all-time Women's money list and look closely, some of the top ladies also started their poker careers in Ladies events. These events also provide the opportunity to meet fellow female players and to make friends."

We asked what she thought of our concept of allowing men entrance to Ladies events but having them pay a higher buy-in: "We actually had this model at the Bounty Hunter Days event at Grand Casino Liechtenstein. Females paid 0+50+10 while men paid 50+50+10 (buyin + bounty + rake) so the Ladies all had a bounty chip but only the men contributed to the prize pool. Bounty Hunter Days has a large community, so I feel this what a good event to have more ladies playing. The WSOP allows men to play for a higher buy-in.  This year, men can enter the WSOP Ladies Championship for 10K while the Ladies receive a discount and pay only 1K.  This model seems to deter men from entering and keeps the spirit of the event."

And what if a man would win the Ladies Event, would that be fair? "If we are talking about the WSOP Ladies Championship, if a man is willing to pay 10K then he can also win or cash the event. But I personally wouldn't want to be that man who has a Hendon Mob entry for a cash in a Ladies Championship."

Lena Evans: "We are a lot tougher and more talented than men think"

Lena Evans
Lena Evans

Lena Evans is a poker player from the United States who had several deep runs in big WSOP Circuit and WPT Fields with her biggest successes to date being two WSOP Circuit wins and a second-place finish in the WPT Deepstack San Diego Main Event for over $50k. Her favorite variant of poker is No-Limit Hold 'em as it was the first game she learned. She plays other variants as well and actually made a final table the first time she played Omaha live.

A few days ago she published a TEDx Talk about Poker titled Why poker is good for you and your brain.

Poker League of Nations

Poker League of Nations
Poker League of Nations

Lena Evans is also the founder of Poker League of Nations, the world’s largest and most internationally represented women’s poker organization. Poker League of Nations was founded with the aim of proactively increasing the participation of women in poker worldwide in order to grow open player fields. Poker League of Nations has engaged women to participate exponentially in open events, as well as introduced women to online poker. They have provided free educational events, tournaments, and gatherings led by recognized industry professionals. Poker League of Nations has sponsored and hosted Ladies events worldwide. They also have an active staking initiative that provides women the tools and support to play in major Main Events and High Rollers that they would be unable to enter without backing. The Poker League of Nations community backing ladies playing in open fields is much more valuable than simply the financial benefit. The women share in succeeding together and the players have the added support of a tremendous cyber-rail, as well as cultivating community forging. The Poker League of Nations has 7,600 members worldwide and membership has always been free.

If you're interested in the Poker League of Nations activities, join their Facebook Group. This Sunday they run a WSOP freeroll and you can find all the details in their Facebook group.

We asked Lena Evans why Ladies events are important to her and to the women's poker community: "Ladies events are important as they help to ease the introduction of more women into the game. Some ladies want to learn in what they feel will be a more relaxed environment, and perhaps be a little more social. Ladies join Poker League of Nations so they can have a community of women supporting them to learn the game. We welcome those who are aligned with our goal of empowering women through the game of poker to make women more confident in all facets of life through honing the skills necessary to be successful at the poker table."

When asked about the concept of having men in the Ladies event with higher buy-in, she was skeptical about the men's prospects of success: "The point of a Ladies event is that only ladies play. Of course, in many states of the USA, we cannot discriminate and exclude men, so in order to help achieve a ladies-only event, we increase the buy-in amount for men (which is allowed). I personally don't mind if men want to add to our prize pool, the more money for us. If they think they can beat an all-female field, let them try! We are a lot tougher and more talented than they think."

And would it be fair if a man entered and won? "If a man enters a Ladies event and wins, it must be seen as 'fair' since that particular tournament allowed him to enter. If a man wants that type of pain, let him try - and suffer the wrath of the women. It will be a difficult day for them. But, all is fair in a competition of the brain. Poker is a mind sport, with men and women on an equal playing field. We will just prove that we have the brains and the brawn to beat them at the tables!"

Kairit Leibold: "If we allow men to play, they will no longer be Ladies events"

Kairit Leibold
Kairit Leibold

Kairit Leibold is one of the most successful Estonian poker players. She is 34th on the Estonian all-time money list and she is the founder of the Estonian Women's Poker League which has grown every year since 2009. Kairit works for the Estonian National Broadcasting as a photographer, and if photography used to be her hobby next to poker, now it's the opposite, photography is a job and poker is a hobby. She loves 8-Game and also H.O.R.S.E, Badugi and 2-7 Triple Draw. 

We asked her why Ladies events are important to her and the women's poker community: "I believe that for many women, the Ladies event is more comfortable for their first tournament than an open tournament for men and women. Especially in Estonia, women often come to play poker because somebody invited them or because a friend recommended the event. And because there are fewer women in poker, they feel a certain sense of togetherness thanks to these special tournaments and leagues."

 When asked how she feels about having men in the Ladies event with higher buy-in, she was on the fence: "I am thorn with this. As a poker player, I should, of course, approve of this for my own sake. Men paying higher buy-ins will significantly increase the prize pool, and the women will have a better chance of winning more with a smaller buy-in. On the other hand, a women's tournament will probably lose its meaning in this case, because some women who would otherwise come for ladies' company or to try poker for the first time will not come to these tournaments anymore and actually it would be an open tournament, where women can play for less money than men. I also see a bigger issue of discrimination if you have to pay more a higher buy-in because of your gender." 

And if a man would win, would it be fair?  "If we allow men to play in Ladies events, they will simply no longer be Ladies events and sooner or later some men will probably win such a tournament. If someone has already been allowed to play, then of course it is fair if they win. In my opinion, however, such tournaments can no longer be called or considered women's tournaments, they have to come up with a different name."

The Festival Queens tournament will be a fun tournament that you don’t want to miss! In all our events is always a friendly and positive atmosphere, this will be even more true in our Festival Queens event. Men will probably have a hard time competing with these ladies. But hey, they can try! We're looking forward to seeing all women and maybe some daredevil men at the tables of our Festival Queens event.

Satellites to Festival Queens

Three of our online partners offer satellite tournaments to Festival Queens:

OlyBet: 15, 18, 22 & 25 June, 19:00 CEST, "Festival Queens", 2 tickets GTD. Buy-In: €15 (freeze-out). Password: Queens (only female players are eligible to win tickets)

Coolbet: 14 & 21 June, 19:00 CEST, "Festival Queens", 2 tickets GTD. Buy-in €11 R/A. Password: Tallinn (only female players are eligible to win tickets)

Paf: 20 & 27 June, 19:00 CEST, "The Festival Ladies Event", 2 tickets GTD. Buy-in €11 R/A. Password: iamagirl (only female players are eligible to win tickets)