The Rio is noisy this summer. And cold. But mostly noisy. Every day I am asked if I saw someone’s Tweet or if I’ve heard a story or what the gossip of the day is. It is cliche to say I am tired of the gossip, and let’s be real, I am Southern, I am not above gossip. But this year the incessant buzz on social media has worn on me, so much so that issues I have opinions on I find I stay silent simply because I don’t want to perpetuate any more Twitter discussions, as basically no one comes out of them looking good.
Today though, I had a nice reminder of how a positive approach to an important issue can make an impact. This is the third time I have had the privilege to be a part of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Each time I attend, I look around and take in how diverse, eclectic, interesting, and inspiring the women of the poker world can be. We’ve spent the summer laser-focused on a group of women who, don’t get me wrong, are amazing, but it is fair to say their poker experiences aren’t exactly indicative of that of most women in the poker world.
I say this not to be an agist (so no op-eds, mmkay people?), but the simple truth of the matter is that I was one of the younger people in the room at this luncheon. Part of this is to be expected. When you are honoring women who have made a lasting impact in poker, they are inevitably not going to be in their 20s. But I think it is important to note women in poker often are a little older. They are retired or independent business women or mothers. There are numerous successful young ladies in poker too, but we don’t pay enough attention to the over-40 crowd. Like any field, we are focused on the new, young things, but that can’t be at the expensive of these women like Linda Johnson and Jan Fisher or this year’s inductees Victoria Coren and Debbie Burkhead. These women blow my mind with their humor, their grace, and their talent and, just because they aren’t crushing $5/$10 NLHE or playing every $10K doesn’t mean they aren’t the foundation on which the female poker community rests.
And being able to celebrate these women and know that even though I may not agree with everything everyone in that room had to say, but we could all agree these women deserved celebrating was such a welcome reprieve from the rest of the summer. Even my lovely date Kara Scott and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, but what I love and cherish about our friendship is that we can talk through it in a way I learn so much from. When we take opportunities like this to remind ourselves we are striving for a common goal, it can help all of us from being so myopic about a singular 140-character Tweet and focus on how to colelctively make the community better.
I don’t know Victoria Coren well, but listening to her video speech today, I was so enamored with this incredibly bright, funny person who manages to balance being a nurturing mother to her daughter and being an absolute force to be reckoned with at the tables. As Barny Boatman so greatly put, Coren is the only person on the planet with two EPTs, but at least the men can all still hope they are the first man to do the same. I look forward to writing a blog about that feat!
I look forward to the microcosm of the summer simmering down. I look forward to people not bickering daily. And I look forward to spending less time criticizing and more time celebrating. The criticism is important, it is often valid and necessary, but lost in this summer of criticism are these moments of celebration like today. So, continue to speak your mind and fight your battles, but come 2018, if you get a chance, take the time to come to the luncheon, to celebrate something wholly positive, and to take a breath and realize that even though women still have plenty of ground to make up, women like Coren and Burkhead continue to break ground and be first. For that, I will always be grateful and I will also always be grateful that these women pay it forward to us “young’uns” with compliments and motivation and support. Unlike me, who sees the drama and clams up, they reach their arms out, be it to push barriers aside for the rest of us or to offer a hug. It is something to aspire to and something I will readily celebrate as long as I am invited to do so.