Girl Talk With The Groupie

Girl Talk With The Groupie

Friday, 22 August 2014

Elena Stover on how not be a table creep.

As casinos slowly make an effort to move away from being sweaty caves of testosterone, more women are coming through the doors. Don't wanna be the table 'creep'? All you need to do is follow these simple rules.

Five tips for the modern gentleman on how to treat a lady at your table

We all know that poker is a male-dominated game. There’s been a lot of debate lately on why that is and what we can do about it, but one thing remains clear: not a lot of women are venturing into casinos and card rooms. I’ve been playing live poker for about four years, and I can confirm that the testosterone-filled atmosphere was intimidating at first. I kept at it because I had a strong desire to improve at poker, and now I’ve become used to often being the only female at the table. Over the years I’ve experienced the full spectrum of male behavior, from offensive catcalls and sexual harassment to gentlemanly kindness and respect.

From my experience here in America and abroad, I do believe that men in Europe and the UK are more respectful and well behaved on the whole, and I commend you for that. But it occurred to me that some male poker players may legitimately not know what to do when they find themselves with a woman in their midst, and that might account for some of their more uncouth behaviour. In this article, I’ll offer some tips and tricks on what you should not do when a woman sits down at your table.

1. “Hey honey.” Doll. Baby. Sweetheart. Darling. Sugar.

Men sometimes don’t realize that this is essentially the same thing as a catcall minus the yelling and/or obscenities. It is a well-established social rule that referring to a woman you don’t know using these terms is rude, and would get you in trouble at the office, the market, or even in a bar. Unless you are my grandfather, please refrain from calling me by any kind of pet nickname!

In the poker media, women are often portrayed as accessories and eye candy, and I think that reinforces some of this objectification. So you, as a respectful gentleman, should always keep in mind that the women you are playing against in your casino are not spokesmodels for a poker tour who are being paid for men to gawk at them. They are real live people who reside in your city, who have families, friends, jobs, brains, and, of course, feelings.

2. “So, are you here with your boyfriend?”

This is one of the most common questions I get when I first sit down at a cash game, and it’s always awkward. Why would you ask a total stranger a personal question about her love life? If a woman sat down next to you on the subway, would you ask her this? Did you ask the guy next to you if he was there with his wife?!

Whether or not a woman is at the casino with her boyfriend isn’t anybody’s business, and the question comes with the implication that it’s abnormal for her to be there playing poker by herself. Instead of starting out with a question like this, try engaging in more normal types of conversation before immediately trying to size up your romantic options. A girl doesn’t go to a poker room to meet guys, she goes there to play poker and have fun, so don’t treat her like she’s just showed up at a singles bar.

3. Excessive flirting and attention

As I just mentioned, a girl sitting down at a poker table is not there because she’s looking for a speed date with eight eligible bachelors. She is there for the same reason as you are: she enjoys a competitive card game. Don’t immediately start flirting or making comments about her appearance, outfit, hair, etc, unless it’s the same kind of comment you would make to a man. You may think you are giving her compliments and that she should be flattered, but in reality you have no idea if this woman wants this kind of sexually-charged attention (she usually doesn’t).

Also, please don’t continually compliment her on her play or act surprised and impressed whenever she wins a hand. One of the more irritating things I experience at the tables is when men start out assuming that I must be bad at poker, then become astonished that wow maybe I can play poker, then begin commenting on every single hand I play. This draws extra attention and scrutiny to my every move - as if I wasn’t saddled with enough unwanted attention simply for being female!

4. “Can I buy you a drink?”

No, you can’t. I have a pile of chips in front of me and can buy my own drinks! It’s very awkward if someone asks to buy me a drink, I decline, and then feel like I can’t order my own drink without the person getting offended or offering to pay for it again. Do not offer to buy a woman a drink unless you have also been offering to buy drinks for others at the table. If you are buying everyone a round, I will gladly accept!

5. Macho posturing

I think the macho “boys club” atmosphere in casinos and card rooms is the largest single reason that women are turned off from playing poker. Poker is an aggressive game, but that doesn’t mean you should be menacing in your personal interactions at the table. Intensely hotheaded people make everyone feel uncomfortable, including staff and dealers, and women in particular are especially put off by the presence of threatening players.

Furthermore, sometimes it seems like certain guys want to prove they are the “alpha male”/boss-man of the table by continually soliciting attention from the lone female player. Women think this brand of macho flirting-to-impress-other-males is lame, and likely so do the other guys at the table if they have noticed.

I hope some of these suggestions will be of assistance as you strive to be the best gentleman you can be at the tables. Poker rooms should never be a haven for antiquated misogynistic attitudes or behavior, and we should all do our part to ensure that all players feel comfortable. Being respectful toward everyone, including dealers, waitresses, and people of all genders at the table, benefits the entire poker community and raises our profile as a whole. And as an added bonus - it also attracts women!

Tags: Elena Stover, The Groupie, columnists