Who are the top 10 female poker players playing professionally in 2021? You might think of poker as a ‘man’s game’ — but you’d be wrong. While women might not match men in number when it comes to poker professionals in the industry, there are many women making impressive moves at the felt, and making even more impressive sums of money that deserve your attention.
Did you know that women make up less than 7% of poker professionals, and since its inception in 1970, a woman has never won the World Series of Poker Main Event?
There’s a lot of different criteria you can consider when you decide how to rank a definitive list of the best female poker professionals of all time — some key indicators of poker performance include who’s won the most World Series of Poker Bracelets, who’s been inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame, and overall monetary winnings. For the purpose of this list, we’re counting down the top 10 female professional poker players by their highest winnings.
10. Joanne “JJ” Liu
Topping off the top 10 list is Joanne Jishung “JJ” Liu, a Taiwanese poker player ranked 2nd on the Taiwan All Time Money List. JJ hadn’t played poker until she moved to Silicon Valley to work as a software engineer in 1996. From then on, she began playing in live tournaments and has collected over $3.2 million in winnings since.
In 2007, JJ was the highest placing female in a World Poker Tour Championship event, finishing as the runner-up at the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Stars event.
9. Maria Constanza Lamprópulos
Greek-born but representing Argentina, Maria started playing poker after she started dating Iván Lucá, an Argentinian professional poker player. Although she has only been playing in live tournaments since 2014, her total career winnings exceed $3.3 million.
She has played in numerous poker tournaments, most notably the main event of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas in 2018, where she became the first woman to win the main event and collected a prize of just under $1.1 million.
8. Vanessa Rousso
Like Maria Ho, Vanessa often ranks higher than 8th place when other criteria are taken into consideration. Since beginning her professional poker career in 2005, Vanessa has won over $3.5 million, placed 5th at the final table of the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Circuit Event in Atlantic City in 2006, and won the €25,000 European Poker Tour High Roller Championship.
Vanessa doesn’t play in tournaments that often anymore, and has a wide array of professional skills & experience, having worked as an attorney, DJ, and TV personality in-between her poker stints. Fun fact—in 2015, she placed 3rd on the 17th season of the reality TV show Big Brother.
7. Liv Boeree
Hailing from Kent, England, Liv began her professional poker career in 2005 when she was chosen as one of five contestants for the reality TV show Ultimatepoker.com Showdown, where she was coached by poker pros Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke, and Dave Ulliott.
In 2014, Liv co-founded an organization called Raising for Effective Giving, which consists largely of poker professionals and financial investors who pledge to donate a percentage of their income to selected charities. As of July 2020, REG has raised over $14 million for charity. In 2017, Liv also joined Giving What We Can, a similar organization to REG, and pledged to give at least 10% of her income to charities.
She is a WSOP champion and a European Poker Tour champion and is the first and only female poker player in history to win a WSOP bracelet and an EPT event. In 2019 she announced that she was quitting professional poker with her total winnings clocking in at $3.8 million.
6. Annette Obrestad
Annette is a successful Norwegian YouTuber who specializes in makeup tutorials, but also boasts an impressive $3.9 million total winnings from poker games and tournaments. The day before her 19th birthday in 2007, she won the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event (a $2.01 million prize), and just barely broke the record for the highest single-event payout to a female player which was previously held by Annie Duke. This same tournament, she also became the youngest person to ever win a WSOP bracelet.
Annette currently is 2nd place in the Norwegian All Time Money List.
5. Maria Ho
Maria is often higher than 5th place when ranked based on other criteria. She is definitely one of the most successful female poker players currently playing and has won over $4 million in tournaments.
Maria was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and moved to the United States when she was four. She began playing poker in college after being told she couldn’t participate in a boys’ poker game because it was “no girls allowed”. Seeing that poker was a male-dominated industry combined with her strict upbringing, Maria’s rebellious side pushed her to pursue poker—and her hard work has definitely paid off.
She was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame in 2018 and was introduced by poker pro and her close pal, Daniel Negreanu, who said “I think poker is actually very lucky to have someone like Maria in it because she’s the best ambassador you could ask for.”
Maria has made it to five WSOP final tables, four WPT final tables, and a WPT win at the LA Poker Classic $25,000 High Roller Tournament. She also won the Global Poker Award for Broadcaster of the Year in 2019.
4. Annie Duke
Though she no longer plays professionally, Annie is an accomplished player and author. She won her first and only WSOP bracelet in 2004, and her total winnings amounted to $4.2 million. Before her “retirement”, she was the leading female money winner in WSOP history, a title that is now held by Vanessa Selbst.
Other accomplishments include winning the 2004 World Series of Poker Championships, and the 2010 National Heads-Up Poker Championship. She set the record for the highest single-event payout to a female player by winning $2 million at the 2004 Tournament of Champions.
She has published five books – one about her experiences playing poker professionally and four strategy and instructional books about how to play poker (two co-authored with John Vorhaus). From 2011 to 2012, she also served as the co-founder, executive vice president, and commissioner of the Epic Poker League, a series of poker tournaments in 2011.
Annie co-founded the non-profit Ante Up for Africa in 2007 with actor Don Cheadle to benefit charities working in Africa. Through playing in and hosting charitable poker tournaments, Annie has raised money for a number of other non-profits.
3. Kristen Bicknell
Kristen represents the Great North as the only Canadian woman on this list, hailing from St. Catharines, Ontario. She first played poker in her freshman year of college and immediately fell in love with the game, and later began playing online in 2006.
Her total live cashes are currently over $5.1 million and include winnings from her three WSOP bracelet wins – the $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Ladies Championship in 2013, a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Bounty event in 2016, and the $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em 6-max event in 2020.
2. Kathy Liebert
Kathy started her career as a prop player and later began entering tournaments. She made it to her first WSOP final table in 1997, and in 2004 she won a gold bracelet in a $1,500 Limit Texas Hold’em Shootout event at the WSOP. She has made six World Poker Tour tables and made history as the highest-finishing woman on the WPT when she placed third at the 2005 Borgata Poker Open until JJ Liu finished as a runner-up in the 2007 Bay 101 Shooting Stars tournament.
Kathy nearly made the Top 100 All Time Money List, but is currently placed at 101st. She has made four separate cashes at the World Poker Tour of over $250,000. Her total winnings are currently just over $6.3 million.
1. Vanessa Selbst
Whichever criteria you’re going by, Vanessa Selbst is the clear #1 winner. Her total winnings are higher than any other female poker professional by a landslide at $11.9 million. She has 21 live poker tournament wins of 6-figure amounts or more.
Vanessa has quite a few accomplishments under her belt, from being the only woman in the Top 100 All Time Money List to having three World Series of Poker bracelets. Along with these, she is also the first openly lesbian professional poker player.
Other noteworthy wins include the 2010 North American Poker Tour $5,000 Mohegan Sun Main Event for $750,000, and successfully defended her title in 2011, winning $450,000. She is the first – and only – person to win two back-to-back NAPT Main Events. She is also the first woman to play in a Super High Roller event and placed 3rd in the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $100,000 buy-in tournament in January 2014.
Vanessa is now retired from professional poker and works as a hedge fund manager for Bridgewater Associates. She still gambles for fun from time to time and encourages her coworkers to buy-in to bets around the office.
Honorable Mention: Barbara Enright
Barbara Enright’s total winnings don’t bring her into our top 10, but she is definitely a force to be reckoned with when it comes to poker. She first learned the game around the age of four while playing with her older brother, and the rest is history.
She currently works as the editor-in-chief of Woman Poker Player magazine and an ambassador for Poker League of Nations, the world’s largest and most internationally represented women’s poker organization. She has won three WSOP bracelets and her total winnings exceed $1.7 million.
Barbara was the first woman to win an open event at the World Series of Poker, and in 1995 she became the first and only woman to have reached the final table of the WSOP main event. Even though Dan Harrington was the actual winner of the WSOP championship in 1995, Barbara is commonly regarded as the most notable player that year.
In 2007, Barbara was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame and became the first woman to do so. Veteran poker commentator Mike Sexton has called her “the most dominating, relentless, aggressive woman on the tournament circuit”, and that is a badge Barbara wears with pride.