While the origins of poker cannot be traced to a particular culture or country, it is widely agreed upon that it was developed as a game sometime in the 19th century. It’s popularity has continued to soar through the decades, most notably in the 21st century when technology allowed for poker to become a spectator sport.
The hole cam, is a small camera that can view a poker player’s face down cards. This invention allowed for television viewers to enjoy and participate in the game. From that point on, live tournaments, like the World Series of Poker, began to be broadcast on major television networks. Viewers at home had the chance to enjoy the suspense and tension of the game, as well as get to know the poker players themselves.
Poker celebrities have arisen and the allure of female poker players has men all over the world wondering if they are really great poker players or simply using their femininity to steal victories. Here are 10 of the hottest and most impressive female poker players.
10. Liv Boeree
Olivia Boeree, better known as Liv, is a poker player and model from England. She began her poker career in 2005 when she appeared on the British Reality TV show, Ultimatepoker.com Showdown. After the show aired Liv began playing poker regularly, earning the nickname ‘The Iron Maiden’, and hosting various poker related TV shows in Europe and America. She has been coached by poker legends Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke and Dave Ulliott. As of November 2015, her live winnings total nearly 3 million and she is the #1 ranked female player on the Global Poker Index and #6 on the female all-time live poker winnings list.
9. Kara Scott
Kara Scott, otherwise known as ‘The Great Scott’, on the poker circuit is a Canadian born poker player. She began her career hosting various television shows in England before becoming one of the main hosts of the popular and award winning live internet poker show “Poker Night Live”. Scott fell in love with poker and began to delve deeper by writing for several industry publications, such as Flush. In 2008 she announced her intention to become a professional poker player and has since been recognized as the only woman who cashed in both the 2008 and 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event, as well as the second woman ever to have cashed in back-to-back World Series of Poker Main Events.
8. Shannon Elizabeth
Shannon Elizabeth, an actress and former model, is best known for her role as Nadia in 1999’s hit comedy movie, American Pie. She immediately became an international sex symbol and has since enjoyed a rich acting career. Elizabeth considers poker her “second career” and she has been quite successful at it. She has cashed out four times in the World Series of Poker events in 2006 and 2007. Most notably in 2007 she defeated three of the world’s best poker players and World Series of Poker bracelet winners – Jeff Madsen, Barry Greenstein, and Humberto Brenes – in the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship.
7. Tiffany Michelle
Tiffany Michelle began her career with acting, but it wasn’t until the 2008 World Series of Poker event that she began to receive fame. Michelle, nicknamed ‘Hot Chips’, became the “Last Woman Standing” at the 7 day event eventually finishing 17th out of 6,844 players. This was remarkable because her 17th place finish broke the record for the largest field ever completed by a woman in a live poker event, earning her a paycheck of $334,534. Fascination continued for Michelle when in 2009, she competed in the 15th season of the reality show, The Amazing Race. She was part of the only all female team with her friend and fellow professional poker player, Maria Ho. The pair were known as the Poker Girls.
6. Jennifer Leigh
Jennifer Leigh, is a professional American poker player born in Wilmington, Delaware. A self-described nerd, Leigh is nicknamed “Jennicide”, after her alias used on various computer hacking sites in her younger years. She is best known for playing online poker, building up from playing $5 online tournaments to $200 cash games. Leigh has cashed out at the World Championship of Online Poker, among several other notable events, but is still seeking a World Series of Poker win and bracelet. She has appeared in both FHM and Playboy.
5. Tatjana Pašalić
Tatjana Pašalić is a Yugoslavian born professional poker player. Her interest in poker began when she was 19. She became a pivotal character in educating the European public about poker through her work as a freelance blogger. Pašalić began to gather a following and became known as a poker personality when she used her entire life savings to follow the European Poker Tour to bring news directly from poker events to her blog readers. After years of being a presenter and host covering poker events, Pašalić joined the 2011 World Series of Poker event herself, but she made a real splash in the 2012 World Series of Poker event when she played wearing a skin tight cat suit, apparently a result of losing a bet to her boyfriend, professional poker player McLean Karr.
4. Beth Shak
Beth Shak began playing poker professionally in 2004, after getting her start in online poker. She has played in notable events like The World Series of Poker and Playboy’s Poker Tournament, known as “Aces & Angels”. Shak ranks very high on the Women’s All Time Money List, having won 3 World Series of Poker final tables and cashed in 13 other tournaments. Fascinating enough, her poker skills are often overshadowed by her vast shoe collection, which made headlines when her then soon-to-be-ex husband sued her for a part of the 1,200 pair collection, which is valued at $1 million. Shak ultimately got to keep her entire collection and continues to play poker (in her fabulous shoes).
3. Jennifer Tilly
Jennifer Tilly is an American actress who has appeared in dozens of films and television shows. She is also a professional poker player nicknamed ‘The Unabombshell’. In June of 2007 she won a bracelet worth $158,625 in the Ladies’ No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em event in the World Series of Poker, gaining her attention for her poker skills. She followed up this win with many others and has earned nearly $1 million playing poker. Tilly is famously known for wearing low cut shirts that show off her breasts while playing poker. She quips “if people are really playing poker, they don’t care. Nothing looks better to them than a pair of aces. They’re not looking at your pair. They’re looking at their pair.”
2. Maria Ho
Maria Ho, as of June 2015, is ranked as the second best female poker player in the world. Her record is impressive and she has won 2.6 million dollars in various tournaments. Ho, originally born in Taiwan has cashed 32 times in the World Series of Poker live events. She is the only female poker player to have the distinction of “last woman standing” three times – 2007, 2011 and 2014. In addition to being a professional poker player she has appeared on The Amazing Race and American Idol. Working as a host and commentator, Ho also is the first female in history to be hired to a poker TV broadcast as the strategic commentator, an immense honor.
1. Fatima Moreira de Melo
Fatima Moreira de Melo is a former field hockey player born in Holland. She is of Portuguese descent and is one of the most popular female poker players. She has won three Olympic medals playing field hockey (2000, 2004, 2008) and has various World Cup Championships to her name. Currently, she is following her new competitive passion, poker, and travelling the world playing on Team PokerStars. She ranks 45th on the Netherlands all time money list and has earned $430K in live tournaments. Melo is still looking for a major title win but can be seen playing throughout Europe at such events like the European Poker Tour and at the Masters Classics of Poker. With her competitive spirit, a win is surely in the near future.