After the enormous success of the first PokerStars and Poker Power Bootcamp collaboration in 2022, PokerStars held a livestreamed “Women’s Media Event” from the Hippodrome Casino in the UK on Tuesday June 20th announcing their second Bootcamp collaboration to be held in 2023. This year’s Bootcamp will take place from July 31-September 28 over the course of eight weeks and includes eight modules, each one focusing on a different area of poker.
The Bootcamp will include a tournament where the final table of recruits will win an all-expenses paid trip to the EPT Cyprus this October 11-22 to take part in the PokerStars x Poker Power Women’s Bootcamp Showdown. The winner of this Showdown will receive a special package to the EPT in Prague December 6-17.
For beginners only, this year’s Bootcamp recruitment window is open until July 22 with successful applicants receiving one on one tutorials from the best females in the game, including PokerStars Ambassadors such as Lali Tournier, Georgina James and Jennifer Shahade who will be on hand to provide their support and tips. The participants will also have access to the Poker Power Play app.
Poker Power Partnership
PokerStars and Poker Power became partners in November 2022 with a shared goal to increase the participation of women in poker with a long-term approach. Women comprise only 4% of players in the global poker community. Last year’s female-only Bootcamp ran for four weeks, and culminated in sending seven women to compete in the “PokerStars x Poker Power Bootcamp Showdown” tournament at EPT Prague on December 12th. Roxanne Johnson from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada won the ultimate prize of a “Platinum Pass” worth $30,000 to this year’s PSPC.
Poker Power, founded by Jenny Just and Juliette Hulsizer in 2019, has become quite a presence in women’s poker; inspiring, informing, and financially backing female poker players to help them achieve success. Their motto is “Be fearless. Bet on yourself.” Their goal is to create opportunities for women and help foster their ability to take risks in an industry that’s predominately male.
PokerStars Women’s Bootcamp LiveStream
Host of the livestream, James Hartigan (Presenter, Commentator and Head of Poker Editorial for PokerStars) welcomed panelists: Rebecca McAdam Willetts, PokerStars Director of Partnerships, PR and Consumer Engagement; Francine Watson, Executive Producer at PokerStars for TV shows and live streams; Jennifer Shahade (2x US Women’s chess champ, Author, PokerStars Pro), Line Peteri, Executive MBA in Strategic Leadership and Management from the University of Exeter and longtime industry veteran; and Alex O’Brien, Association of British Science Writers Vice-Chair, Science Writer, Author and Poker Player.
James touched on why each panelist was passionate about getting more women involved in poker. Rebecca spoke about starting to play at 14 or 15 and being excited about being able to be a part of the poker world when she was able to play her first live game. She wants to create and investigate what makes a poker environment better for women.
Francine, who made her way to poker after working in cricket and football, was enticed by the stories in poker, as she says “I’m a storyteller.” She was also drawn to poker because an amateur could sit “next to (Phil) Ivey” to play. After being in sports where that wouldn’t happen, she enjoyed the equity that anyone could play at the table.
Jennifer has played chess since she was 5 years old, and found her way “to the beauty of the game” of poker at 15. She enjoyed being around people that were unlike her but with a shared passion of poker. Poker also allowed her a way to see the world. Jen stated that she wants to give the women in poker a community, which was a common sentiment amongst the panelists.
Alex became more interested in poker after another female writer that she met with frequently had to cancel their plans because she’d stayed up all night to make $6,000 playing poker. Alex riffed on Mike Sexton, saying “the rules of (poker) take only 5 minutes to learn, (but) a lifetime to master.”
Line encountered poker when friends took her to a tournament to help distract her from a bad breakup and she ended coming in third place. She commented that “everything starts with confidence” and women’s events “nurture don’t mock” the players. It was also discussed that women’s online poker groups, such as Poker Power, Pocket Queens, and PokerStars, are valuable and can help create a village mentality.
It was a huge honour to be on stage with these powerhouses to announce the launch of the @PokerStars Women’s Bootcamp 2023. A fantastic initiative in collaboration with @joinpokerpower to commit to making poker as inclusive & accessible as possible for everyone. CHANGE IS COMING. pic.twitter.com/3iSTmKPjIt
— Alex O’Brien (@obrientweet) June 30, 2023
The audience asked questions of the panelists, and brought up the strong point that women need to have more male allies in poker as advocates. Francine suggested that women need more representation in senior floor staff at tournaments. Alex added that penalties in poker need to be equitably applied, with a tightening of rules as with other sports. She said that we need to empower the dealers to also step up and know they’ll be backed up by the chain of command.
A question from the audience led to a discussion about the importance of ladies events. Alex commented that these events provide a safe environment, a comfortable one in which to ask questions, and receive support from more knowledgeable female poker players. “Show them the ropes and release them into the wild.” Jen commented that years ago she liked women’s events because they were usually more affordable. In addition to the “gender gap” there’s also a “wage gap” in poker. Women usually don’t have “as much capital” as their male counterparts.
Alex added a final note that “the cards are blind, (they) have no gender.”
*If you’re interested in signing up, go to: PokerStars x Poker Power Women’s Bootcamp 2023 – PokerStars Learn The Bootcamp is free for its participants.