Alice Ivers

poker-aliceAlice Ivers, also known as Alice Duffield, Alice Tubbs or Alice Huckert – she was widowed three times – or by her nickname ‘Poker Alice’, was arguably the most successful female professional gambler in the American Old West. Reputedly born in Sudbury, England in 1851, Ivers moved with her family to the United States in 1865, finally settling in Deadwood, South Dakota.

A gifted mathematician and accomplished card player – she had been taught to play poker by her father as a child – Ivers earned a decent living from playing poker, particularly so after the death of her first husband, Frank Duffield, whom she had married in 1875. She frequently toured the West where, as a beautiful, fashionable woman, with a penchant for black stogie cigars, she stood out from the hoi polloi of the gambling fraternity. Ivers continued to support herself with her poker skills until, in 1910, she opened ‘Poker’s Palace’, a saloon in Fort Meade, South Dakota. Indeed, three years later Ivers was charged with murder after she shot a man dead during a fight on the premises, but was subsequently acquitted on the grounds of self-defence. During her lifetime, Ivers claimed to have won over $250,000, or over $3 million in modern terms.

Vanessa Rousso

Vanessa-Rousso-200x300Vanessa Rousso, known online as ‘Lady Maverick’, is a retired professional poker player who was married to the late Chad Brown, former Bluff Magazine Player of the Year, before their separation in 2012. Born in White Plains, New York, Rousso spent her early childhood in France before returning to Florida, as a ten-year-old, when her parents divorced.

Precociously bright, Rousso started to play tournament poker, online and live, while still a student at Miami School of Law in 2005. She collected her first live earnings, $6,465, for a seventh placed finish in a Bayou Poker Challenge event at Harrah’s New Orleans New Orleans in May that year. The following month, she collected another $2,330 for winning a Palms No Limit Hold’em Summer Poker Series event at Palms, Las Vegas and so embarked upon on a career during which she would accumulate over $3.5 million in total live earnings.

Indeed, Rousso collected her best live cash, €532,500, or $700,160, when winning the European Poker Tour (EPT) European High Roller Championship at Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Casino in 2009. Instantly recognisable, to fellow players and television viewers alike, by her platinum blonde hair, trucker hat and aviator sunglasses, Rousso formally announced her retirement from poker, to do something ‘meaningful’ with her life, in May 2018.

Annette Obrestad

Annette-Obrestad-1024x738Norwegian poker player Annette Obrestad, who turns 31 in 2019, first came to worldwide attention when, in 2007, on the eve of her nineteenth birthday, she won the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) Main Event at the Empire Casino, London. Her victory not only made her the youngest person, male or female, to win a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet, but her payout, of $2.01 million, beat the record for the highest prize money paid to a female player for a single event, previously held by Annie Duke.

Otherwise known as ‘The Huntress’ or ‘Annette_15’ – the latter nickname dating from the days when she started playing online freeroll poker tournaments as a 15-year-old – Obrestad has live earnings in excess of $3.94 million. That figure ranks her second on the Norway All Time Money List, behind only Felix Stephenson, and 328th on the All Time Money List. Her WSOP bracelet aside, Obrestad has cashed for six-figure sums on six occasions, including $429,181 for a second-place finish in the European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event in Dublin, also in 2007. Obrestad no longer plays poker, having lost her passion for the game, but has reinvented herself as a ‘beauty guru’ on YouTube.

Pamela Anderson

pamela-anderson-300x225One-time Playboy ‘Playmate of the Month’ Pamela Anderson continues to hit the headlines, for one reason or another, but will probably always be best remembered for her starring role as lifeguard Casey Jean ‘C.J.’ Parker in the television series ‘Baywatch’ in the Nineties. However, as far as gambling is concerned, Anderson started playing Texas hold’em at the height of the poker boom in the Noughties. She was, briefly, involved in online poker, launching, in association with Doyle ‘Texas Dolly’ Brunson, in 2006, but the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, passed less than three months later, but paid to that venture.

In 2007, Anderson reputedly lost $250,000 playing poker with a ‘famous gambler’ on the Las Vegas Strip and paid off the debt with, as she put it, ‘sexual favours’. The gambler in question was believed to have been her long-time friend Rick Salomon, whom she latter married, and divorced, twice; on the second occasion, Anderson filed for divorce just two days after Salomon had won $2.8 million for finishing fourth in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) The Big Drop for One Drop in 2014. Her own poker ‘career’, though, has produced live cash of just $1,239, which she won for finishing fourth in the WSOP Ladies Event at Palm Beach Kennel Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, in 2015.

Annie Duke

annie-dukeNew Hampshire-born Anne ‘Annie’ Duke, née Lederer, is a former professional poker player who has more recently found fame as an author, consultant and public speaker. Nonetheless, she holds a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet for winning an Omaha Hi-Lo Split event in May, 2004 and also cashed for $2 million when winning the WSOP

Tournament of Champions – for which no bracelet was presented – in September the same year. The latter event, which accounts for nearly half of her $4.27 million total live earnings, was an invitation-only freeroll, with just ten invitees.

Under the auspices of her brother, Howard, Duke started to play poker seriously at the Crystal Lounge in Billings, Montana from 1992 onwards and, having made a promising start, progressed to WSOP events in Las Vegas in 1944. She cashed in three events, including the Main Event, or World Championship, collecting in excess of $50,000 in prize money and subsequently moved to the ‘City of Lights’ to pursue her poker career.

Duke is also remembered for her association with Ultimate Bet, the Costa Rica-based online poker site that cheated players out of tens of millions of dollars from 2004 pnwards, and Epic Poker League, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March, 2011, after running just three poker tournaments, with debts of over $5 million. Consequently, she remains persona non grata in the eyes of many in the poker community.