From one story about a person in disguise to another. Card Player reported Wednesday that a female poker player who goes by the pen name Sia Layta plans to play in the World Series of Poker Main Event this summer dressed as a man.

Now, we have seen men dress as women at the WSOP before, but this is not like those instances. When men have done it, they have not tried to truly look like a woman, but rather entered the Ladies Event and dressed as women as a joke. I won’t get into all the reasons men are stupid and thoughtless for doing this, but suffice to say they are idiots for thinking it is sexist to have a women’s only event.

Layta is promoting her upcoming book, Black Widow Poker, detailing her experiences playing poker on the West Coast and how sexism and gender bias in the poker world hurts female participation. She intends to disguise herself as a man, facial hair and all, to illustrate how women are treated differently at the poker table.

From the Card Player piece:

Layta said women in poker encounter bullying, sometimes arising to the level where it makes it so “women aren’t able to play poker the way men are.” She also cited a strategy example, saying that most women are better off slow playing their hands in order to get action from men. “It’s really hard to win a tournament when you have to limp in,” she said. Her book is also part strategy guide.

Layta told Card Player that she will remove her disguise if she makes the money.

Phil Laak famously dressed in an “old man” disguise at the 2008 WSOP, a getup that ESPN commentator Norman Chad said made him look like Hume Cronyn in Cocoon (eh, that’s a stretch). It was a pretty darn good makeup/latex job, though he was eventually found out. That stunt, though, led to a rule being added to the WSOP rulebook:

Participants may not cover or conceal their facial identity. Tournament officials must be able to distinguish the identity of each participant at all times and may instruct participants to remove any material that inhibits their identification or is a distraction to other participants or tournament officials. Participants may wear sunglasses and sweat shirts with hoods, but may be asked to remove them if tournament officials cannot identify them.

It is entirely possible that if Layta is discovered, she could be disqualified from the tournament and lose her $10,000 buy-in. A spokesperson for her book told Card Player that they believe she would not be violating the spirit of the rule. She isn’t a ringer subbing in for a friend – she is playing as herself, just not looking like herself.

One could counter that argument by saying that if people can’t recognize her as SIa Layta, then she is at an advantage because anyone who might have otherwise recognized her from real life (as she does play poker on the West Coast) won’t know who she is and therefore can’t use their knowledge of her play to help them.

She doesn’t care, though, and has no plans to call off her effort. In her book, she describes several instances in which she has done the same thing in other tournaments.

One Comment

  1. JenTech says:

    The book Layta wrote about this (Black Widow Poker) is truly one of a kind. i’m surprised more women have not tried this. Will be interesting to see if she shows up dressed like a guy at the WSOP.

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