Florida man wins women's poker tournament, sparking debate about men in women's sports: reports

A Florida man drew ire over the weekend when he entered and won a women’s poker tournament at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in the Sunshine State.

Dave Hughes, 70, entered the $250 no-limit Texas Hold’em event with a prize pool of up to $17,450. Of the 83 competitors to enter the tournament, 82 of them were women, and the last one was Hughes. Hughes ended up defeating Dayanna Ciabaton at the end and take home $5,555, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Hughes was allowed to enter the women’s tournament as Florida casinos are prohibited from banning men from entering women’s tournament, according to anti-discrimination laws. The newspaper noted that Nevada casinos have a similar rule. 

The World Series of Poker’s Ladies event has a $10,000 buy-in tournament, and women receive a 90% discount in hopes of keeping men from entering.

A video from Hughes’ time at the tournament on Saturday was posted to Twitter. Some players put a bounty on him, which rewards a player for eliminating him. The bounty went unclaimed.

"Good luck, not really," the woman in the video can be heard saying.

The issue of a man playing in a women’s tournament sparked a debate.

"I love ladies-only poker tournaments. I would have no problem with them having a men's only and I wouldn't enter it as I would not qualify for it," Poker Hall of Famer Linda Johnson said, via Poker News. "I would have no problem if they had a tournament for 26-year old, motorcycle riding, Mohawk-haircut seniors and I wouldn't enter it because I wouldn't qualify.

"I don't think men should play in ladies-only tournaments. That said, I think there is a total overreaction to the few man (sic) who do enter. They are usually looking for attention, so why give it to them? Maybe we should just ignore them and play our best. This is just my two cents and you are welcome to your own thoughts on this."

Charlie Carrel, a British poker player, also weighed in on the issue in a tweet, saying initially that it was "hilarious that he won."

"It pokes fun at the idea that anybody can identify as a woman and be allowed to enter women's spaces," Carrel continued.

"It's a real issue that people are taking advantage of in many different areas, including sports, prisons and changing areas. This has lead to some horrific repercussions (female inmates being raped in prison, or women getting destroyed in MMA fights by somebody who spent 95% of their life as a man).

"It does suck that it comes at the expense of the women's only space. I wouldn't do it, even though I probably share the same criticisms. Female only spaces in poker are really needed. Mixed poker can often be absolutely horrendous environments for women to be a part of.

"The trans issue is a lot easier to handle in poker, as the stakes are relatively low. The difference between male and female players is negligible enough that the incentive for men to join women's spaces isn't really there.

"It does speak loudly to the insanity that's playing out on a larger scale."

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