Women in Poker and Chess

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by mathman, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. mathman Valued Senior Member

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    The 2011 world series of poker is going on this week. The commentators observed that the vast majority of players are men. Among top-flight chess players there are relatively few women.

    When you look at similar activities among girls, such as the National Spelling bee (roughly middle school) or the Intel Science Talent Search (high school), there doesn't seem to be any such disparity.

    Does anyone have any idea why in the adult activity there is such a disparity, but not before? (The point of comparisons is that these are all competitions requiring brainpower, but not physical skills).
     
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  3. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    I am a woman who recently started playing chess on-line because working graveyard shift rather interferes with socializing. In discussion with other women that I know, I was likewise surprised to find that none of them played the game and few were even conversant in that regard.

    Perhaps in past this is due to social conditioning that has clearly defined some activities as being 'male' and this attitude has possibly deflected female interest in the game of chess.

    In regards to poker, from some quick research there appears to be an increasing number of women taking up the game. Historically, poker was a gentleman's excuse to spend some time with the fellows, away from the distractions and challenges of engaging the female of the species.

    Another thought would be that if we kick your butts in these final bastions of male dominance that it truly would become a battle between the sexes.

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    Men like their women to be pretty and clever......but not more clever than themselves.

    I suspect that women intuitively recognize this and choose their own pursuits accordingly.

    Still, there are plenty of other venues where the competitive fillies take on the colts. I'm interested in hearing from both men and women on this topic.

    An interesting thread start, mathman.

    http://www.pokerpages.com/players/lists/women-in-poker.htm
     
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  5. Bebelina Feminazi Messiah Valued Senior Member

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    I play chess too, and poker online on fb, not so often though.

    But to connect with the topic, girls are not encouraged to pursue these kind of interests and therefore they are underrepresented.

    I was however, when it comes to playing chess anyway. Also played it online for a while, but don't really have time for that anymore.
     
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  7. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I noticed that when I was in college that no women were playing it in the cafeteria when others were. I couldn't say for sure why they didn't but if they ever wanted to they were never excluded by anyone that I ever knew about. Perhaps they rather read a book instead for their way of mental exercises, or perhaps they just didn't want to show off their abilities to the men as scheherazade has already stated.
     
  8. superstring01 Moderator

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    I am an avid poker player. Two of my favorite players of all time are women: Annette Obrestad and Annie Duke. Annette is an animal, she won her first major poker tournament without ever looking at all her cards (and was still in high school).

    http://www.pokerpages.com/players/lists/women-in-poker.htm

    ~String
     
  9. Anti-Flag Pun intended Registered Senior Member

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    Women are becoming more common in poker, but most girls think chess is pretty geeky. :shrug:
     
  10. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    Perhaps some women are put off by the fact that chess is, in essence, a game of war.

    Most women are less assertive and confrontational than men, both because we are generally somewhat slighter in stature and strength and have been conditioned to think in the traditional role of homemaker and caregiver.

    Aggressive recreation in the form of chess may go counter to our conditioning that we are to be supportive of the male and not challenging.

    Observably, most men prefer a compliant female. :bugeye:

    Becoming very adept at chess might possibly narrow one's field of suitors rather dramatically.
     
  11. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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  12. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    There are world-class females in both poker and chess. But I don’t disagree that there appears to be a gender disparity. I guess it boils down to many areas of life being, essentially, a men’s club. There may not be active efforts to discourage females, but why would they want to take up an activity when they’re treated with indifference and a ‘cold shoulder’?
     
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Chess and poker are quite different games. Since poker has a large component of luck, there's a significant element of psychology to it: bluffing about your luck, and attempting to see through your opponents' bluffs.

    Con men tell us that women have more "tells" than men: facial expressions and body language that unconsciously give away emotions and intentions. This would presumably make it more of a challenge for a woman to become a champion poker player. She has more unconscious behaviors to suppress (or fake) than a man.

    Chess has virtually no component of luck, other than the obvious one of a having a bad day on the precise day a tournament is scheduled, or being paired with an opponent who happens to have studied all of your favorite openings. So men and women are more evenly matched.

    In my experience most women simply don't find chess enjoyable. I play go and the situation is similar. Although I have encountered slightly more women who like go than chess, they're still a tiny minority in the go clubs I've been to.

    I've taught a couple of women to play go and they both had an amazing aptitude and could have gone far. They just didn't like it.

    My wife is almost as strong at chess as I am, even though she has only played about two games in the last thirty years.
     
  14. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    What are any of us REALLY SAYING when we remark that we just don't like something?

    One of those wonderfully subjective remarks that can cover all contingencies and deflect query in one fell swoop, lol....

    Now a guy would likely have a fairly precise description of the aspects that he found not to his liking, but the woman effectively ends further discussion with four words.

    Love it!

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  15. Search & Destroy Take one bite at a time Moderator

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    Would con-women say the opposite?
     
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    According to a series of magazine interviews some years back, in the athlete housing party scene that follows performance in the Olympics every four years (many athletes finish their competition with days left in the overall event) the men who did well - medaled, won, etc - attract more women (and men) than others, but the women who did well enjoy no (even negative) advantage at attracting men (or women).

    My wife plays Go for the social scene (Go geeks seem to be more interesting than other kinds) and the beauty of the game - but aside from not wanting to be a fish, disrespected for weak abilities, has little emotional investment in winning. She takes pleasure in playing well, even in a losing effort - sincerely.
     
  17. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    That is an interesting observation, yet it rather fits with what I suggested above in another post. When men excel at something, their merit as a partner rises.

    When a woman excels, her rise in excellence places her beyond the reach of many who otherwise admire her. Their perception is that she would not be interested and so they do not pursue, because the perceived effort seems to be potentially without reward.

    They admire her......from a distance.

    Though I do not know the game of Go, I can relate to playing even a losing game with enthusiasm for there is much to learn about one's opponent even so, that will be of aid when a more favorable turn comes one's way.

    Talking to strangers on science forums is my social experiment of late.

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  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I can't say that women actually say, "I don't enjoy this game." They just don't ever feel like playing. I don't need a reason. Nobody needs a reason for not enjoying something. I don't have to explain why I don't like opera.
    No, even psychologists agree with this. Women are stereotypically more expressive in their communication than men, and this applies just as much to non-verbal communication as verbal.
    Perhaps one of the reasons women have a slightly larger presence in the go community than in the chess community is that the game is not as competitive. The elegant handicap system makes any match a 50-50 chance, regardless of the difference in skill level. You're always trying to beat your own record, not trying to beat somebody who's been playing twenty years longer than you. If you win with a six-stone handicap everyone knows that doesn't mean you're stronger than your opponent. It just means you played especially well today, and you get high-fives for that.

    This takes some of the competitiveness out of the game. In any go club there is a much stronger emphasis on teaching than winning. Once people reach the level at which they can remember an entire game (close to 1-dan), after beating a weaker opponent most of them offer to replay the game and analyze your moves, showing you how to play better the next time. Part of this is probably because the game lends itself a little better to analysis than chess. You can critique every move and compare it in specific detail to five or six alternatives.

    I'm considered a hero in my circle. Not because I'm a top-ranked player; I'm not. In fact my rating has been slowly dropping with age. No, it's because I spent two years doggedly working on this one guy who just couldn't seem to figure the game out, a guy nobody else could get through too. I finally got some insight into what his problem was, and then figured out a way to help him see it. Now he not only plays a decent game with no gigantic blunders, but he's slowly improving. That's what go players respect, more than taking a trophy in a tournament.

    I suspect many women like being around people who nurture each other more than those who brag about winning.
     
  19. RJBeery Natural Philosopher Valued Senior Member

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    I believe it has more to do with men being more competitive in general. Before computers the vast majority of skilled typists were female (this is according to my type-writing teacher 25 years ago). Yet the fastest typists were almost always male. Do we really think this is because the male's fingers are "naturally faster"?

    My personal (possibly hokey) belief is that there is a desire to create something of permanence in all humans so as to achieve a quasi-immortality, and this desire is largely filled in women by having children. Men are forced to resort to other outlets, such as winning a tournament, breaking a record, starting a company, conquering the world and creating a dynasty, etc. I think further evidence of this theory lies in the fact that women who experience a large amount of career success are less likely to have children, possibly due to the fact that this "desire to create" has been partially satiated for them...
     
  20. Anti-Flag Pun intended Registered Senior Member

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    In some respects perhaps, but only in a similar vein to other strategic based games. It could just be that it's less exciting than shopping.

    You haven't met many modern women have you?

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    That doesn't explain why women don't play each other either, and I'm also not sure how "aggressive" chess can really be considered, in fact as far as competition goes it's very tame, slow, a methodical. I can't say I know many young men that still play chess either though, so it may be an age thing as much as gender?

    Depends on the situation, but it's more that most people don't want someone confrontational and agressive, much like women don't want someone like that. Meekness is not attractive to people either - people like a balance between assertiveness, agreeableness and an ability to compromise.

    Well most women would run a mile from a geek (sorry, a guy) that plays chess. I imagine it narrows it down about as much as many other unpopular or uncool activities.
     
  21. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    You haven't met many intelligent modern women have you?

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    Most men would run a mile from them also.

    Maybe there's hope for the geeks yet.

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    Today's rapidly changing world shall require the non-traditional skills of both genders to navigate successfully, IMO.
     
  22. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    You make some interesting comments, RJBeery.

    Besides their career satisfying some of their creative needs, there may seem little purpose in contributing to global population at this time seen by some women.

    There are other ways to make lasting contribution to the species than merely through the proliferation of one's genes, IMO.
     
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Only the dumb ones. I made a point of dating (and especially marrying) intelligent women. Intelligent people make much more satisfactory mates for each other.

    In that other thread (maybe the one about monogamy?) I listed the traits to look for in both a friend and a mate, and intellectual companionship was on both lists. You get real tired of having to find somebody else to talk to.
     

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