The women listed below have mastered the field of gaming. Image via unsplash
The fields of gaming, in the forms of both competitive video games and casino games, have historically been male dominated. From the earliest days of card games to the modern eSports arena where competitions are held, female pros are hard to find, similar to fields in finance and tech.
That’s not to say women haven’t been part of these realms. In fact, as this list will show, there have been talented female gamers throughout the centuries. Today’s modern era may focus on eSports athletes, but there are female pros continuing to break into professional poker and blackjack online.
For most casino enthusiasts, slots are the go-to game. With a range of themes and characters, most slots have RPG features that make them engaging spin after spin. Additionally, the most popular jackpot games can be found online with the click of a few buttons. However, not everyone is satisfied with a freewheeling journey into a fantasy land or ancient civilization.
Instead, some prefer to put their statistical and critical thinking skills to the test with games like blackjack and poker—and they make a killing at the bank doing so. Video gamers aren’t far behind, especially as recruitment practices and sponsorships deals look to represent female pros. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most influential female gamers throughout history.
Alice Ivers Tubbs
aka Poker Alice
Born in Devonshire, England in 1851, Alice Ivers Tubbs looked set for a normal nineteenth century life. She was offered an elite education, then moved to Virginia before resettling in Leadville, Colorado. There, she met her husband, a silver miner.
Tubbs had landed square in the middle of the Wild West in its heyday, and her husband was a keen poker player. She first learned by quietly observing him at saloons before trying her own hand at poker and faro.
Eventually, Poker Alice would become renowned throughout the region for supporting herself through poker play alone. Men came from all over to challenge the female competitor—or watch her break the bank in person.
A saloon similar to where Poker Alice learned the ropes. Image via unsplash
aka Iron Maiden
Born in Kent, England just over a century after Poker Alice, Olivia ‘Liv’ Boeree took to the game with equal vigor. However, she first spent time earning her physics degree with a specialty in astrophysics from the University of Manchester, which helped her develop quantified thinking skills.
From there, she turned an appearance on a live poker show into a career in gaming. In 2010, she became the third woman to take home a European Poker Tour title. She’s also been named the Female Player of the Year in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Sasha Hostyn is one of the most famous and top-paid players in the StarCraft realm, though she also competes in Dota 2 competitions. As a player in 2011, she was part of the first generation of professional eSports athletes that were recruited by larger teams.
In 2018, Hostyn won the Intel Extreme Masters competition. In doing so, she became the first woman to win a major StarCraft II competition, which helped her join the Newbee team. To date, she’s the highest-paid female eSports player in the world, with earnings of $393,000 according to Statista.
Xiaomeng Li is a champion Hearthstone player who got her start in 2019. Despite being involved in professional eSports for a limited period of time, Li has become the second-highest paid female eSports competitor with $238,000 in total earnings, according to Statista.
Similar to Hostyn, Li is one of the most visible female competitors in the Hearthstone realm. Back in 2014, while still learning the ropes at an arcade, she was discouraged by a male player from pursuing her dream. Five years later, in 2019, during her debut representing China in the Hearthstone Global Finals, she defeated US competitor Luna Eason (Bloodyface) to nab a world champion title.