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Female Gamblers: 15 Most Famous Women from the World of Gambling

by archyde

Traditionally gambling has not been perceived as a lady-like activity. Probably that idea was an excuse concocted by men to dodge the embarrassment of losing at the poker table from a girl. Yet, women were not discouraged; their gambling history stretches from the Old West, where saloons accommodated women with a talent for making hefty sums and up untill the modern prestigious tournaments. 

Let’s get to know the 15 female gamblers that left their mark on the gambling scene.

1. Maria Gertrudis Barcelo

The nickname Queen of Sin reveals a lot about the character of Maria Gertrudis Barcelo, one of the first female salon owners in New Mexico, which she maintained without a proper license. The local press was fascinated with the young woman’s business acumen and documented Maria’s gambling exploits. 

Records from the 19th century indicate that her gambling earnings amount to $350.000, making a great example that a woman can have a knack for card games. 

2. Claudine Williams

Gambling is an activity Claudine Williams got exposed to from an early age, working in the casino scene in Louisiana during her adolescent days. As she matured, Williams transitioned to a more responsible position, beginning her career as a manager of a gambling establishment in the 1940s.

In the 60s of the last century, Williams migrated to Las Vegas, where she and her husband opened the Holiday Casino. Claudine was the first female managing director of a casino and, in 1992, was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame.

3. Annie Duke

The Duchess of Poker has been out of the game for a decade but still ranks as one of the top ten wealthiest female poker players.  Duke was a professional player that made a living at the poker tournaments, and her biggest success was the triumph at the National Heads-Up Poker Championship in 2010. No other female gambler has come close to repeating that feat.

4. Victoria Coren Mitchell

The career as a TV presenter was not thrilling enough for Victoria Coren Mitchell, so the British national started a side gig as a poker player. The second career is more lucrative, with over $2 million in earnings.  Not surprisingly, Mitchell got inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame.

5. Eleanor Dumont

Another name from the old guard, Eleanor Dumont’s was a trendsetter on the gambling scene in California in the 1850s when she opened a parlor catering to blackjack enthusiasts. For a pioneering female gambler, Dumont didn’t prioritize opportunities for women. Disappointingly she didn’t permit women in her establishment.

6. Kirsten Bicknell

Studying was not a priority for Canadian Kirsten Bicknell, preferring to preoccupy her time with online casinos during university days instead of focusing on classes. So, far Kristen has accumulated $5 million in her bank account, proving that she made the right choice.

7. Lottie Deno

In an era when prejudice towards women was at its peak, Lottie Deno enabled women to change their perspective of what was possible and join the gambling world. Deno was known by several pseudonyms and was active on the casino scene in Texas from the 60s until the end of the 80s of the 19 century.

8. Anette Obrestad

You may know her from her YouTube makeup channel, but Annette Obrestad is a poker aficionado with $2 million in earnings, and her poker exploits include a victory at the World Series of Poker Europe.

9. Kathy Liebert

At one time, Kathy Liebert was the most successful female gambler at the World Poker Tour. In the modern era, she is one of the most popular names, having participated in six finals of various prestigious tournaments.

10. Vanessa Selbst

Perceived as the best female to have ever played the game, Vanessa Selbst’s poker career is on an upwards trajectory since she made her first steps back in 2006 during the Las Vegas World Series. If cash prizes are a measurement of success, then the $11 million and change cement her status as the best female player.

11. Jennifer Tilly

Gambling is the family business in the Tilly household, and Jennifer followed in her father’s footsteps by joining the poker tournament scene. Tilly is no longer active, officially retiring back in 2008. But during her tenure at the poker tables, she had a few memorable moments, including the 2006 victory of the World Series of Poker bracelet.

12. Shannon Elizabeth Fadal

Poker has been a profitable alternative career for actress Shannon Elizabeth Fadal. In her active period in the tournament circuit, Fadal managed to leave the poker tables of 12 tournaments with some cash in her pocket.

13. Gladys Knight

The Grammy-winning singer preferred to play blackjack and baccarat, mostly on the Las Vegas scene. Although Knight never made it a professional calling, her celebrity status in combination with interest in card games broke a few taboos about women gambling. 

14. Shirley Brancucci

Shirley Branucci began her career as a Baccarat dealer. Actually, she was the first female dealer in Las Vegas back in the 1950s. The media of the time gave a lot of publicity to Shirley, making it possible for other ladies to start careers as a croupier.  Shirley’s career in Sin City spanned four decades.

15. Alice Huckert

The nickname Poker Alice wasn’t a publicity stunt. In the 19 century, it was a concept still in development, and Huckert also enabled the perception that women should be allowed to take their seats at the poker table. The poker proficiency wasn’t her only skill; Alice shot a man whose manners failed him at her establishment. 

The Bottom Line

Most of the role models on our list paved the way for new generations to participate as equal members of the gambling scene in best online casinos. Surveys reveal that about a third of gamblers are women, a huge spike compared to previous decades. It’s still a man-dominated industry, yet gender is no longer a factor, and women get welcomed at tournaments.

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