Poker has long been considered a “man’s game”, however there was a documentary-style film released in 2020 that showed everyone that women could hold their own – or better – when they went up against their male counterparts at the table.
Poker Queens provided viewers with a unique insight into what women would face as they prepare to go face-to-face with some of the biggest names in the game, with Sandra Mohr’s depiction highlighting just how intimidating the poker world could be to a female.
Her depiction, though, was one that managed to receive a huge amount of praise from critics, with those in the poker scene also commending the work that was achieved. It helped shine a light on an area that many did not know existed while also helping to propel some of the world’s best female players into the headlines in which they should have been featured some time ago.
Which players were included?
Poker Queens does a brilliant job of ensuring that as many people from the professional and celebrity spheres are included in this film. It featured some of the most notable female players known for playing the game and achieving a positive reputation at the table, with the likes of Jennifer Tilly, Jennifer Harman and Liv Boeree all making appearances. Poker Queens also went further, though, as it provided unique insights from some of the biggest names in WSOP, with the man with the most bracelets – Phil Hellmuth – and others such as Wild Bill Hickok.
Mohr’s film also explored how professional poker players have evolved over the years. She took a look at the formative days of the game and when it was played in Saloons throughout the Wild West to the modern day and how it is played in front of millions and by millions, with online poker games now accessible to everyone. However, while giving viewers an important history lesson and how far they have come, she does so by keeping a focus on telling stories from the women that were and are involved today.
She tells relatively unknown stories about Boeree and Harman and how they got into the game and became as skilled as some of their male counterparts. At the same time, she also shone a light on those who are still unknown and largely unknown to those not part of the professional poker scene.
Why did Mohr create Poker Queens?
Mohr wanted to showcase the gender roles and inequality women faced when it came to playing poker. During the Poker Queens film, she revealed that she was the author of Black Widow Poker, which was a controversial book. In order to write it, she continually went undercover as a male player and competed in competitions, such as participating in the WSOP Main Event. Viewers of the film can experience footage captured as she was undercover, thus giving them a unique insight into what was going on.
The filmmaker wanted to try and “inspire more women to play” through the film and hoped to make “men understand female players better”. Various statistics are provided throughout the documentary, including just 6% of the field at a pro tournament is female, although approximately 25% of those watching are women. Online, it is claimed around 25% of those playing are women. In order to encourage more females to play, Mohr includes overviews which can help provide a glimpse into what poker entails.
How did the poker industry receive Poker Queens?
Following its release, Poker Queens has continued to be received positively by those in the professional poker industry. It has also earned positive critical reviews from those outside of the industry, thus suggesting that she was successful in providing an unseen insight into the female perspective of this once male-dominated game.
According to Mohr herself, she revealed in an interview shortly after its release that she had been reached out to by “so many women” who had stated that they would give playing poker a go after watching the documentary. With more and more women continually taking up the game and hitting the professional tables in recent years, it is a film that has perhaps managed to achieve its ultimate outcome.
While perhaps appealing to women more than men, Poker Queens is a film that men can also enjoy learning from. It does well to provide an introduction to the game, while it can also be a great way for male players to learn about certain things.