Gambling is for everyone. While it is sometimes dominated by men, women professional gamblers have a fair share of their fame in the game showing their knack, intuition, and talent as contributing factors for their popularity. Today, let’s look at some of the most popular women in gambling history.
One of the contemporary entries on our list, Annette Obrestad is known as the youngest person ever to win a World Series of Poker bracelet, which she accomplished at the age of 18 at the 2007 World Series of Poker Europe. She won a whopping £1,000,000 at the said event. Obrestad hails from Norway and started her professional poker career at the tender age of 15 and frequented online poker games. Early on, she would win hundreds of thousands of dollars without even making initial deposits and relying on freeroll poker tournaments. Her talent for the sport is evident as within five years, she would go on to winning the world’s most prestigious poker event.
The world’s first female baccarat dealer from Las Vegas, Shirley Brancucci rose to fame in a classic rag to riches story. The legend started as a cocktail server in 1952 in the strip with the knowledge of using her hard-earned money to produce more money. However, due to back issues, she had a hard time continuing her career and knew she had to change jobs immediately. She then took courses on baccarat as at the time, not a single female was dealing in the game and are all focused on blackjack. Her actions proved fruitful and in no time, she became the baccarat dealer legend we know today.
A famous Texan, Deno is one of the earliest female professional gamblers. Born in Kentucky in 1844 and transferred residence to Texas as a young adult, Deno became a poker icon in the country world. Her skills in the game exceeded all expectations earning her the nickname “the Poker Queen”. Her legacy transcends time and space as she inspired numerous characters in famous television shows such as Miss Kitty Russell in the TV show Gunsmoke. Famous actress Lisa Gaye portrayed Deno in the episode “Lottie’s Legacy” in the series Death Valley Days.
A legend of the World Series of Poker, Selbst will always stay as one of the most famous female gamblers that graced elite poker table. At the peak of her professional gambling career, she amassed over $10 million in winnings. Not only that, she has won three World Series of Poker bracelets, has placed a finalist in World Poker Tour events, and collected a bunch of other international poker titles at her belt. In addition, she hails as the only poker player to win the same North American Poker Tour main event back-to-back.
Aside from being a professional poker player, she is a licensed lawyer and graduated from the prestigious Yale Law School. She recently resigned in 2018 from professional league but still plays some time in small gaming events.
Judy was called the “First Lady of Gambling” when her husband, Doc Bayley died in 1964 and she inherited all their gambling establishments, most notably the Hacienda. Not to be downplayed and with an innate knack in running the business, she was the first woman to bring Live Keno in the Las Vegas strip and become extremely successful for it.
Judy’s life—though famed as the First Lady of Gambling, is remembered and celebrated beyond the walls of the casino. She devoted the remainder of her life as a civic activist and a philanthropist which bagged her the other nickname “Our Judy”, meaning she is with and for everybody. Almost every humanitarian and charity events in Las Vegas graced not only her presence but her selfless services as well.
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