Hall of Fame Praises Gazes, Phases Ladies
Aug. 11, 2011, Posted by Pokerfarm
This week there was an audible sigh as tens of thousands of poker fans collectively un bated their breath, uncrossed their fingers and un caged their desire to celebrate a hollow token of female involvement in the poker world. After months of near-unbearable tension and frenzied speculation, the 2011 inductees to the Women in Poker Hall of Fame have finally been announced, and at long last this venerable and prestigious organization has seen fit to honour fan-favourite and world-class tournament poker firebrand Kristy Gazes.
You can keep your EPTs and your WSOPs, it's the WiPHoFTEIs (Women in Poker Hall of Fame Twenty-Eleven Inductees) that everyone's been talking about this year. In the long history of the WiPHoF (it's been running continuously since 2008!) it has immortalized those women who have contributed the most to the poker community, and the latest inductee raises the already high standard.
Kristy Gazes (known as "Mixed-Games Gazes" to her friends, because she likes mixed-games. And her second name is Gazes.) is one of the finest tournament players to break onto the scene since Jennifer Tilly (and we don't say that lightly.) She shot to the highest echelons of poker celebrity when a video emerged of her making an advanced quadruple-range-merged level-9 polarized value-check in the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. In a hand against fellow pro Chad Brown, Gazes 3-bet 99 preflop vs. Brown's A2ss. The flop came 666, and Gazes ingeniously checked her boat. Brown checked behind, and when the turn came the case 6, Gazes sprang into action, leading for two-thirds pot with her powerful 9 kicker. Brown, with the absolute nuts, managed to make the call. Springing the trap, Gazes checked the blank river, and Brown masterfully checked behind with the best hand. While both pros played the hand perfectly, it was post-river that Gazes' strategic prowess really became clear, as she demanded half of the split pot. While many onlookers believed Gazes simply didn't understand that Brown's ace kicker meant he had the better hand, anyone familiar with Gazes' nuanced and rigorous understanding of poker psychology will instantly recognize she was trying to bluff out a large portion of Brown's rule-understanding range.
While Gazes suffered a degree of public ridicule for making such an audacious play, it's good to see that the WiPHoF doesn't base its nominations entirely, or even partially, on skill at poker. Gazes may confess on her blog that, "I still suck at playing online," but the WiPHoF, by stipulating that any inductee must have been involved in poker since before 1994, effectively excludes an entire generation of young internet pros from consideration. Which is great, because otherwise a host of upstarts might be nominated for inclusion simply because they're outstanding female poker players?
After all, the WiPHoF seeks to promote the involvement of women in poker and not poker in general. Anyone inducted into the Hall of Fame must be a supporter of women-only tournaments like the controversial WSOP Ladies event. On this basis, pros like Annie Duke, who believe, "Poker is one of the few sports where a woman can compete on a totally equal footing with a man," are ineligible. Duke may be one of the most visible and consistently professional faces of female poker, but because she believes women aren't at a handicap in game that relies purely on mental acuity and perseverance, she must be a bad ambassador for women in poker. At least, according to the Women in Poker Hall of Fame.
Instead, it's good to see players like Kristy Gazes get the recognition they deserve. She may not crush the nosebleeds, but she gave the introductions at the final table at the 2011 WSOP Ladies event. And hey, that's something, right?