Davis man wins a ladies-only poker tournament at Harveys | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Davis man wins a ladies-only poker tournament at Harveys

Roseann Keegan
Tahoe Daily Tribune

Provided to the TribuneUniversity of California, Davis, communications major Greg Sessler won $9,932 during the 2009 Ladies Poker Championship at Nov. 14 at Harveys Resort and Casino.

The World Series of Poker has a new 2009 Ladies Poker champion – a 22-year-old man.

University of California, Davis, communications major Greg Sessler won $9,932 in a WSOP circuit event Nov. 14 at Harveys Resort and Casino, beating a field of 96 that included four men. Sessler told tournament officials that he entered the women-only event because it was his first and only day off in two weeks.

“Me playing in this tournament really had nothing to do with trying to take advantage of the ladies or thinking it was a softer field,” Sessler said in a WSOP release. “If (poker pro) Jennifer Harman would have come and played in the ladies event, she would have been much tougher competition than me. I came here because I only had one day, and I really like the structures and the payout. This was the only tournament I could play.”

Sessler could not be reached for further comment.

He had previously won a few smaller buy-in events, including the Mega-Stack Series at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas earlier this year. WSOP spokesman Nolan Dalla said this was Sessler’s biggest live tournament win to date.

The participants did not object to the male entrants, but when three of the four men busted out, the women broke into spontaneous applause, Dalla said.

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Sessler’s eventual victory was not challenged during the tournament, but “there were some frowns,” Dalla said.

“But it’s not as though he did anything wrong,” he added.

Still, a debate continues about the ethics of his entry and whether gender-specific poker tournaments are necessary.

“The debate that’s taking place now is a much larger one within the poker community,” Dalla said. “It has had waves, in a philosophical sense, and has been debated on forums.”

Dalla said the WSOP isn’t a political organization and can’t be expected to get involved in debates about sexism, discrimination or other issues. The women-only tournaments are meant to increase female participation in the game and officials generally don’t turn away players based on gender, he said.

Then there’s the debate about whether women’s-only events are necessary in poker. Those who object, including women, say poker is a gender-neutral game and that ladies-only events are demeaning.

As for Sessler’s final hand? He won with two ladies – pocket queens.