Throughout the history of poker, many inspirational women have made a huge impact on the game.
As part of our celebrations for International Women’s Day, we asked players to nominate inspirational women in poker today. The nominations came flying in, and it has been amazing to see so many stories from deserving women all over the world.
In fact, there were so many inspiring stories, that the judges couldn’t narrow it down to just six. After not much deliberation, they decided to chose nine instead.
The nine finalists will compete in a live single table Sit & Go, with the winner taking home a Platinum Pass. We can’t yet put a date on the live final, but it will be held in good time before the PSPC.
Without further ado, here are the nine inspirational women who made it to the final:
Originally from Lithuania and now living in the UK, Daiva Byrne is the founder and owner of Fantastic Ladies In Poker (FLIP), one of the largest women’s only groups on Facebook. She has been playing poker for 14 years, 10 years as a pro, making her a true pioneer both as a player, and as an advocate for women.
“I feel extremely proud and honoured to be recognised for my contribution to poker and especially the female community,” Byrne said. “Keep playing and studying the game. The more you play the more confident you become.”
Now living in Georgia, in the United States, Christina Read has been playing cash games for 15 years, and has also been getting involved in tournaments the last few year. Her commitment to poker goes way beyond the felt. Read is an advocate for the Women’s Poker Association in Georgia, and also the founder and admin of the Poker Queens ladies poker group.
“We are on the right path and have come very far in the last 100 years,” Read said. “I am so excited to see where women go in the future, not only in poker but in all aspects of life. “Once we achieve a better balance at home, we will see more equality in the workplace (and the poker tables) as well.”
Katie Stone was originally involved in the chess world before moving to poker in 2005. She has since been following the online game (literally!), moving to Mexico and then back to New Jersey when poker was legalised.
“I am beyond grateful and so very excited,” Stone said. “PokerStars is a big reason I play poker for a living; the 45 and 180-player SNGs are how I built my bankroll back in 2009.”
Giada Shiyan Fang
Originally from Italy and now living in Malta, Giada Shiyan Fang graduated in medicine and surgery. She started playing poker after a motorcycle accident forced her to rest for three months, during which time her friends convinced her to start play money games for entertainment. Fang ultimately decided to play poker professionally, and was part of PokerStars Team Online from 2011-2017 and is currently ambassador for the Poker League of Nations, one of the largest women’s poker organisations. The fitness, adrenaline and video game loving pro is popular both as a player and for her poker commentary.
“I’m truly honoured to receive this opportunity among all the deserving women in the world,” Fang said. Speaking of how to encourage more women to play, she says “I think ladies’ events are still very important. It’s important to encourage women to start the game.”
Meichelle Culhane is a volunteer poker teacher at the Broken Arrow Senior Activity Centre in Oklahoma. After five years of hard work getting permission to start, the group is now thriving. Culhane teaches 19 women, the oldest of whom is 89, as well as a number of men. Poker uses part of the brain that activates problem solving, so part of Culhane’s mission is helping seniors to keep mentally and socially active.
“I was a commitment type volunteer, but when you love the game so much, the commitment is nothing,” she said. “The laughter and love of life my students have is a gift and I get to see it every week. The gift they give to me, I cannot explain. This adventure is about enriching lives and making us all better people.”
Jan Fisher is partner in Card Player Cruises and has worked in the poker community for more than 40 years. She moved from Seattle to Vegas when she was 21, and worked as a dealer in major casinos. She has since put together an accomplished poker career, teaching bootcamps and seminars, writing for publications such as Card Player Magazine and working as a statistician for the WPT. She is an initiate in the Women In Poker Hall of Fame and truly a legend in the poker world.
“I love the competition of poker, of course, but I love the lifestyle it has afforded me,” Fisher said. “Lots of travel, friends all over the world, and a calendar that’s always full of exciting things. There are so many wonderful things about poker!”
Terry Hatcher developed her card skills from a young age with family, then at home games with friends. She joined the Women’s Poker Association in 2018 and is now regional representative for Texas, where she supports women in casinos and card rooms. In 2019, Hatcher obtained her Tournament Directors Association (TDA) certificate and took up a position as tournament director in Austin’s largest card room.
“I truly enjoy railing, highlighting and supporting women,” Hatcher said. “I feel fortunate to be working in an industry that I’m passionate about.” Speaking on making poker accessible for women she says, “Continue to create fun social ladies’ leagues. Teach and grow the skills to play in open fields with continuous support. We also need to share that the game of poker will help develop business skills to use in the workplace.”
It’s fair to say that poker has played a crucial role in Lexi Sterner’s life. In 2008, her dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given a five percent chance of five-year survival. Her uncle would come over and play poker to keep him busy. Sterner started playing with them and instantly fell in love with the game. Thankfully, her dad ultimately beat the odds and is still with them today. This inspired her to go to nursing school, and she played poker throughout college. In 2009, the poker community came to her family’s side again. Sterner’s mom suffered kidney failure, and it was a dealer from the local casino, whom Sterner had never met, who donated a kidney.
“Working as a nurse in this current time has been difficult and news like this really brightened my day,” Sterner said of receiving the nomination from PokerStars. “This game has given me so much…I’d love nothing more than to win a Platinum Pass and have a platform to donate a percentage of my earnings to pancreatic cancer and organ donation charities. I would also love to share how amazing our poker community is.”.
Aurelie Reard is used to being the strong woman at a table full of men. She was the only woman in her class when she was training to work as an audio visual engineer in Paris. Now, Aurelie is a professional poker player who recently moved to Cardiff with her husband, cat, and dog named Gamble. As a skilled poker player, she calls out to women everywhere to be the ones to scare men.
Reard said: “Even today in the poker community, there are very few women, so I would like to say to women that ‘Women who are not afraid of men, scare them’. Be the one who believes in herself and then men shall never doubt you. After all, this is just a game. Everybody should have an equal opportunity to realise their dreams. We should judge all men and women only by their skills and not by their appearance or by their gender.”