Gone are the days when poker was strictly “for the guys.” The ladies have arrived, and these female poker players are amazing!
Take, for example, Barbara Enright. Enright was the first woman inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame, in 2007, right alongside “Poker Brat” Phil Hellmuth. Impressively, Enright is the only woman to have made a World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event final table, ultimately finishing in fifth place. Enright was also the first woman to win three WSOP bracelets, and only Linda Johnson (2011) and Jennifer Harman (2015) have managed to win that many since.
In every poker room and in every major poker event you can see the changing tide. Many more women have taken up the game since the poker boom of the 2000’s during which time poker became more accessible both online and live.
Not only are more women playing poker, the best of them rival the best male players. In fact, for the first time in a dozen years, two women, France’s Gaelle Baumann and Norway’s Elisabeth Hille, cracked the top-20 in the WSOP Main Event. Baumann finished on the bubble in 10th place, while Hille finished just behind in 11th. Unsurprisingly, their prowess and WSOP success led to huge sponsorship deals.
And let’s not forget female celebrities like Jennifer Tilly, Shannon Elizabeth, and Mimi Rogers, who are very public about their enthusiasm for poker and are skillful players in their own right.
More tournaments, more success, and more money. Let’s take a look at the top female poker players according to the all-time money list.
Top female poker players honorable mentions
First, a shout out to 11th through 20th places:
20. Allyn Jaffrey Shulman (USA)—$1.47 million
19. Esther Taylor-Brady (USA)—$1.51 million
18. Lucille Cailly (France)—$1.55 million
17. Barbara Enright (USA)—$1.6 million
16. Mimi Tran (USA)—$1.62 million
15. Clonie Gowan (USA)—$1.64 million
14. Maria Constanza Lampropulos (Argentina)—$1.71 million
13. Sandra Naujoks (Germany)—$1.79 million
12. Xuan Liu (Canada)—$1.95 million
11. Maria Ho (USA)—$2.43 million
And now, the top ten female poker players of all time
Drum roll, please. According to the Hendon Mob, here are the top ten female poker players of all time based on tournament winnings.
10. Victoria Coren Mitchell (UK)—$2.47 million
Mitchell was the first player to win two European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event titles (2006 London and 2014 Sanremo.) She was also the first to win a televised professional event (EPT London 2006) and a televised celebrity event (Celebrity Poker Club).
In addition to writing poker columns and providing commentary for several British poker series, Mitchell plays a few tournaments each year, and makes most of her income in cash games.
Watch Mitchell win her unprecedented second EPT title:
9. Loni Harwood (USA)—$2.5 million
Harwood is one of the most consistently successful grinders on the tournament circuit. She has won two WSOP bracelets (2012 and 2013), both in No Limit Hold’em events.
Harwood has also made five WSOP final tables, was in the money 14 times, and has had money finishes in both the WPT and EPT.
8. Jennifer Harman (USA)—$2.74 million
Jennifer Harman is one of the most well known and successful female poker stars in history. In addition to her two WSOP bracelets, Harman boasts a whopping 12 WSOP final table appearances and 32 money finishes, as well as two WPT final tables and 14 money finishes.
Harman was a regular on Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker, and she is the only woman to regularly play at the Bellagio’s high stakes cash game known as the “Big Game.” As previously mentioned, Harman was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2015.
Having undergone two kidney transplants, Harman is very active on the charity circuit. She founded the non-profit Creating Organ Donation Awareness (CODA), and hosts various charity poker events with proceeds going to the National Kidney Foundation.
Here’s a hand that showcases Harman’s tenacity.
7. Joanne Liu (Taiwan)—$3.1 million
Joanne ‘JJ’ Liu came to the United States in 1985 to attend college. One day in 1996, Liu ventured into San Jose’s Bay 101 Casino and took up a new and soon-to-be-very-lucrative hobby.
In 2004, Liu quit her job to pursue poker full time, and has since proven herself as one of the most exceptional professional female poker players. Among Liu’s accomplishments are ten WSOP and five WPT cashes, a win at the 2006 WPT Ladies Night IV, a 2nd place finish in the 2007 WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars tournament. She is also the only woman to finish in the money at the Asian Poker Tour’s (APT) inaugural event.
6. Vanessa Rousso (USA)—$3.56 million
Nicknamed “Pokerness” and “Lady Maverick,” Rousso’s impressive poker career includes 17 WSOP money finishes, two WPT final tables, and numerous appearances on Poker After Dark. Rousso has also been voted among the sexiest poker players in the world, and has several major endorsement deals, including GoDaddy and PokerStars. An avid student of game theory, Rousso has also written for American Poker Player.
Rousso has also accomplished two things very few people have: placing 3rd on the TV game show Big Brother and she got Tony G. to shut up for once after beating him in a hand. Who else has those bragging rights? Take a look, and try not to laugh too hard.
5. Liv Boeree (UK)—$3.57 million
Another of the most famous female poker players today is Liv Boeree, who got her start when she appeared on Ultimatepoker.com Showdown in 2005. Adding to her success, Boeree was coached by Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth, and Dave Ulliott.
Boeree was both a player and an on-screen reporter at the WSOP, EPT, and WSOP Europe. She is the only female poker player with a WSOP bracelet and an EPT championship. Boeree also won the European Poker Awards’ Female Player of the Year in 2014, 2015, and 2016, based on her Global Poker Index points during those years.
Watch an ecstatic Boeree launch her career by winning €1.25 million at the 2010 EPT San Remo:
4. Annette Obrestad (Norway)—$3.93 million
This Scandinavian poker prodigy began her online poker career at the tender age of 15 under the name “Annette_15”. During 2005 and 2006, she won nearly $1 million on PokerStars, UltimateBet, and Full Tilt. She was once ranked best in the world on PocketFives.
One day before her 19th birthday, Obrestad won the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe Main Event for an impressive £1 million. Since then she has won a WSOP bracelet, made ten money finishes, and made a European Poker Tour (EPT) final table.
3. Annie Duke (USA)—$4.27 million
Annie Duke, a.k.a. the “Duchess of Poker,” has had quite a career. (Poker runs in Annie’s blood, apparently–many know her as Howard Lederer’s younger sister.)
Her first run at major tournaments was at the 1994 WSOP, where she managed three excellent showings, including a 14th, 5th, and 26th in the Main Event. Afterward, she and her husband moved to Las Vegas to continue her poker career.
In addition to a 2004 WSOP bracelet, Annie won the WSOP Tournament of Champions and the 2010 National Heads-Up Poker Championship as well as being able to boast 38 WSOP and four WPT money finishes. For some time Duke was the leading money winner among women in WSOP history until Vanessa Selbst came along to claim that title.
2. Kathy Liebert (USA)—$6.17 million
PokerKat Kathy Liebert has made an incredible six WPT final tables, including enjoying a 3rd place finish in the 2005 Borgata Poker Open. She also won a WSOP bracelet at the 2004 $1,500 Limit Texas Hold’Em Shootout, and has an impressive 47 WSOP money finishes.
Her highest WSOP Main Event finish came in 2000, where she placed seventeenth. Liebert still plays tournaments and currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.
1. Vanessa Selbst (USA)—$11.85 million
At just thirty-three years young, Brooklyn-born Vanessa Selbst can easily be called the best woman poker player in the world.
Selbst ranks #1 on the female poker player money list and #41 on the all-time list. She boasts three WSOP bracelets, eight final tables, 20 money finishes, and two WPT final tables. Her highest WSOP Main Event money finish was 73rd in 2012, and she is the only woman to have won three bracelets in WSOP open events.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Selbst also holds a J.D. from Yale University–talk about an overachiever!
So, I think it’s clear, and safe to say, that poker is no longer a boy’s game. Who are your favorite female poker players? Please comment below.
Until next time.
Read more from Upswing Poker:
- Who is Annette Obrestad? – 7 Top Poker Moments from Annette_15
- PokerGo and the Top 5 Poker Central Shows
- How Did Jungleman Daniel Cates Become So Successful?
Natalie Faulk is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer and blogger and the author of several books. She is an avid low-stakes (for now) poker player and huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.