Barbara Enright (Poker Trailblazer)
There is a buzz about poker right now.
It’s a game whose time has come - not that it’s ever been away - but there is something undeniably fashionable about the old five card stud routine right now.
With Hollywood A-listers like Toby Maguire - aka Spiderman - and Ben Affleck making no secret of their penchant for playing, a professional circuit drawing in crowds and generating publicity, and mobile versions of the game proliferating as never before, it seems as though we are likely to be hearing a lot more about this iconic pastime.
But just as the mythology of the game is rich with tales of Mississippi riverboats and gunslingers, it has always tended to carry a distinctively male ethos. “Poker is a boys’ game” is the message between the lines of a thousand Hollywood scripts.
Only it’s not.
Just as Vanessa Selbst is making a name - and a small fortune - for herself in the erstwhile man’s world of professional poker, there was an equally skillful and successful amazing woman who carried all before her in previous decades.
It says much that whilst New Yorker Selbst is being held up now as a contemporary trail blazer for women in this man’s world, the name of Barbara Enright has been a recognised force in poker circles for over 25 years.
In fact, Enright was the first woman to be inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2007 and has amassed career winnings in excess of $1.5 million.
Enright’s success has not gone unnoticed within the game - she was the first woman to win three coveted World Series of Poker bracelets and the first woman to win an open event at the WSOP - but her achievements were otherwise ignored.
There was a time when the world’s media didn’t want to know about poker - and it certainly didn’t want to know about women in poker. Those Hollywood scripts were just part of broader story that happily is being put to bed.
Women like Vanessa Selbst are now rightfully enjoying the fruits of their endeavours through commercial sponsorship as well as their ability at the tables. There was no such safety net for women of Enright’s generation.
Having begun playing with her elder brother at the age of just four, Enright’s route to the top was far from an easy one. With a young family to support she started playing seriously as a means to supplement the various waitressing and hairstyling jobs she was holding down, often balancing three jobs at once.
It took a while before she felt able to leave the jobs behind and concentrate on making the serious money that her talent was worth. The rest, as they say, is history.
There is more to the Barbara Enright story than poker success. A recognised writer and editor-in-chief of Woman Poker Player Magazine, as well as a motivational speaker, Enright is a champion of feminist causes and she has held positions as a technical director for National Lampoon and is also featured regularly as a poker expert on TV and radio.
As the popularity of the poker phenomenon pushes it more and more into the mainstream, the achievements of such ground breaking individuals as Barbara Enright deserve recognition. We are proud to embrace Barbara Enright as an amazing woman who truly rocks.
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