Friday, January 11, 2013

Good Read: The Atlantic on Vanessa Selbst and Women in Poker

On Twitter, sometimes one discovers messages pointing to online articles with an accompanying declaration “#goodread” or some other terse recommendation of a particular landing spot on the endlessly-distracting interwebs.

I’ll send out such tweets sometimes when I haven’t the energy to provide a more detailed recommendation, say, in a blog post. I’ll also admit to experiencing some vain satisfaction whenever someone on Twitter points to something I’ve written in similar fashion, such as happened yesterday with something I wrote for Ocelot Sports “On the Baseball Hall of Fame Shutout.” (Sorry for the shameless Shamus plug.)

With character limits, there usually isn’t much space left in a tweet to say much if one is also including a link. Nor is Twitter really a great place (in my estimation) to deliver meaningful critiques of anything, really, although some use the medium regularly to deliver such commentaries on movies, books, TV shows, music, politics, news of the day, Justin Bieber, and/or just about everything else. And a select few are even good at delivering such evaluative assessments in 140 characters or less.

In any event, I usually rely a lot on my knowledge of the tweet’s author before automatically clicking through when encountering such a recommendation. Earlier today, Change100 delivered such a message, referring to a new piece on the Atlantic website by Shawnee Barton profiling Vanessa Selbst. Trusting Change100’s taste generally speaking -- and in particular regarding a mainstream outlet’s discussion of poker (and a woman in poker, at that) -- I didn’t hesitate clicking through.

Unsurprisingly, the piece by Barton titled “What It’s Like To Be a Woman Who Plays Professional Poker” is indeed a worthwhile read for anyone interested in poker, Selbst, or issues concerning men and women and how they interact.

There are a number of aspects of the article that recommend it, one of which being an obvious awareness on the part of Barton of both Vanessa Selbst’s background and playing history as well as of recent trends in poker, generally speaking. Indeed, at no point in the article did I find myself questioning Barton’s knowledge of the game or the historical context for Selbst’s story -- kind of a rarity when it comes to poker articles emanating from non-poker outlets.

And -- also refreshing -- I not only learned new things about Selbst, but feel like Barton made some insightful observations about cultural expectations for men and women and how those expectations often get amplified in the context of the male-dominated world of poker. Barton also adds a good point near the end regarding the possible impact of Black Friday and the relative absence of online poker in the U.S., noting how it might be affecting women’s participation in poker.

But go read the article yourself, and forgive my going on a little longer than 140 characters in my recommendation of it. As a fan of both Selbst and solid poker writing, I’m glad I followed Change100’s suggestion.

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Blogger darrelplant said...

A couple clues in the story led me to why the article didn't seem uninformed on poker, author Shawnee barton mentions playing at the same table as Selbst in a $1K Ladies event at the LAPC a few years ago. Look her up on Hendon Mob:

She took second place in the Ladies event at the 2006 WSOP for $123K.

1/11/2013 7:36 PM  

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