Jaclynn Moskow Reflects on Poker Night in America Ladies’ Night and Women in Poker

Ladies night

On December 2nd, Poker Night in America filmed a ladies only 25-50 no limit holdem cash game.  The game was livestreamed online and episodes begin airing on CBS Sports Network on January 5. PokerWomenNews sat down with professional poker player Dr. Jaclynn Moskow to ask her about her experience playing on the show.

How was playing in an all female cash game different from your usual poker game?
“Definitely more entertaining. I rarely laugh that hard while I’m playing poker. The livestream had three times the number of viewers than past Poker Night streams and I anticipate that the episodes will be viewed on TV and online at record breaking rates too. It wasn’t just that so many of the girls were great on camera, most played solid poker too, leading David Tuckman to declare the game, from top to bottom, the toughest Poker Night line-up that he has yet to provide commentary for. It was a successful event any way you frame it.”

Can you give us some entertaining highlights from Poker Night?
“After discussing one of her legendary laggy plays and playing uncharacteristically tight, Vanessa Selbst announced ‘you get a wife, some dogs, you know, and you can’t go around 8 bet shoving real light anymore.’ Jamie Kerstetter was hilarious too, although in retrospect her humor requires context so you’ll have to listen for her on the show. Lauren Billings and Danielle Anderson made me laugh a ton as well, and Natasha Barbour too, I feel like I am just listing the entire cast, but honestly it was that good. And to give myself some credit, I can be pretty witty myself. Or at least I think so! My best line on Poker Night was probably during the games we taped in Pittsburgh, rather than during Ladies Night, actually. Phil Helmuth ignored a question that I asked him as he had headphones on, I responded with something along the lines of ‘probably listening to a recording of his own voice.’ ”

“Table talk” for the ladies game began early as Jessica Dawley said in an interview with us that the girl showing the most cleavage was probably the fish in the game, prompting Lily Kiletto to respond that she has had overall better poker results than Jessica. Do you think these comments affected how the game was played?
“Short answer? Yes. Long answer? Table image is always an important component in poker and calling someone out publicly before a game is going to affect play in one way or another. But as it turned out, I was the one who had the most cleavage at the table so interpret that however you like”, Jaclynn says laughing. “Having said that, I think it is pretty fundamental in any poker setting that announcing another player is perceived as a “fish” is bad for the game. Anyone who makes a living in poker does so in part because there are players who believe that they are more skilled than they really are and players drawn to the game for its entertainment value or to fulfill a competitive urge, rather than purely for monetary gain. It seems counterintuitive to me for a pro to ever draw attention to this. Plus, there is already so much negativity in the poker world–and in the world in general, for that matter. Intimidating players are already a factor keeping new players, including many women, away from poker. So why contribute to it?”

What do you think about Jessica’s comment that some of the women who played in the game use their sexuality to profit in poker?
“Well, some of the women do. I see no problem with it. If a man can’t play optimally against a woman because of the way she looks, that is a leak in his game, not hers. That man is on a form of tilt, so-to-speak. If a female player recognizes this and wants to capitalize on it, she must learn to interpret how it is the male opponent is playing differently from his baseline and then adjust accordingly. And, of course, not a single female poker player on the planet will beat the game relying heavily on this. It is one of countless factors of varying weight that go into any given hand of live poker. Jessica is a gorgeous girl and whether she likes it or not, there will be men who play differently against her because of it. But I would never encourage her, nor any other player, to dress in a manner that they are uncomfortable with. And I would be cautious before making the assumption that a female at the table is dressing a certain way for strategic reasons. It may just be that she is dressing in the manner that she prefers.”

Did any of the other players particularly impress you?
“Almost everyone impressed me. It goes without saying that many of these girls have poker talent, but I was impressed by much more than that. So many of them are genuinely kind, intelligent, and insightful women (and that adjective list easily goes on.) I think being a successful female in any male dominated field is going to often serve as a sort of filter for these kind of characteristics. I had the fortune of getting to know some of the girls away from the table also, and that only perpetuated my already positive opinion about them. Whenever I pause and think about all of the great people poker has brought into my life I am tremendously grateful.”

Why didn’t you return to the game after the dinner break?
“Because I wasn’t given the option. Todd Anderson, the show’s creator, told me that I had to give my seat up. There were other players who wanted to get into the game and since I was the only one there who also played two days prior on a different episode filmed at Hard Rock, as well as two weeks prior on the Pittsburgh episodes, it made sense to give someone else some play time. Believe me, I wish I could have played the entire session, or at least been warned beforehand that I would have to get up at the dinner break. Because of metagame reasons, I was particularly excited about playing in the second half of the game. Despite this, I am glad that all of the ladies who came out and wanted to play were able to do so. Todd is trying to put together a quality TV show and I assume that is easier to achieve in the editing room having diverse footage with various lineups.

How can we get more women playing poker?
Events like Ladies Night are great way to get the word out. A few months before Poker Night announced Ladies Night, I had actually approached a casino in South Florida about hosting a female-only cash game. At the time, the house was interested, but I was unsure if I could find enough players and so I put the idea on hold. Since we filmed Ladies Night, I have revisited it and the response has been overwhelming. We are playing our first game next week, I’m really excited. All women are welcome and it’s important to me that the game maintains a positive, relaxed atmosphere. I encourage cardrooms around the world to consider spreading similar games. And I encourage women around the world to play in them, as well as to play poker in general. If any ladies reading this want more information about the girls game, feel free to shoot me an email at MoskowPoker@gmail.com

Dr. Jaclynn Moskow is a cash game player in South Florida.  She also volunteers as adjunct faculty at NSU-COM where she has conducted research in psychiatry, internal medicine, and public health. 

Photo: Standing (left to right): Marsha Wolak, Reggie Duvdivani, Lauren Billings, Jaclynn Moskow, Jamie Kerstetter, Lily Kiletto, Nancy Birnbaum, Vanessa Selbst. Seated: Jessica Dawley, Natasha Barbour, coctail waitress of the night, Danielle Andersen and Eboney Kenney. Poker Night in America.

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