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Top 5 Most Famous Female Gamblers!

The world of gambling has historically always been a male-dominated field. Despite this, there have been a number of prominent women who have made a name in the industry through their gaming skill or their keen business sense. In this article, we will go into more about the Top 5 most Famous Female Gamblers! 

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1. Female Gambler Vanessa Selbst


One of the most successful women playing poker was Vanessa K. Selbst, the only woman to ever reach number one on the Global Poker Index. She has won the World Series of Poker three separate times and has made over 11,850,000 dollars from live tournaments.

Personal Life

Selbst was born on the ninth of July in 1984 to a Jewish family in Brooklyn. Selbst was raised in Brooklyn and Montclair, New Jersey. She began her college career with a year at MIT. This turned out to not be the right fit, after which she decided to transfer to Yale. After graduating from Yale, Selbst would spend a full year in Spain as part of the Fulbright cultural exchange program, of which she had received a scholarship.

Selbst would return to the United States to work for the prestigious McKinsey Group, a global management and consulting firm first founded in 1926. She would not stay long, deciding to play poker full-time until she was admitted to Yale Law School. She would win one of her first major wins while in law school, winning up to 3 million dollars and ranking sixth on the poker money list of that year. Selbst would go on to graduate Yale Law School in 2012.

She married her partner Miranda in 2013, after meeting her on the dating app OkCupid. Miranda Selbst works for a non-profit organization using social and emotional learning to make schools in New York City a safe, productive, and positive environment to learn in.

Selbst has set up her own foundation called Venture Justice. This foundation provides seed money for numerous non-profit organizations and social causes. A few of these organizations are:

  • The Urban Justice Centre;
  • Teachers Unite;
  • Raising for Effective Giving (REG), this is a non-profit founded by fellow poker players Igor Kurganov and Liv Boeree, among others.

Vanessa Selbst announced her retirement from professional poker in 2018. She posted her intent to step away from the game on a professional level on her Facebook. She would shift her focus to the financial world, by becoming a strategic analyst for a hedge fund. She said there was no specific or main reason for the decision to step away from professional poker, but that it was a series of multiple different things. The difficult travel schedules and the outsider status of American players played a part in this decision.

Selbst works at an investment firm these days, called Bridgewater Associates. She has recently invited talented poker players to join her at this firm. Her twitter stated it was the best “real” job for people who were seriously into poker. Some big industry names expressed their interest, among which were:

  • Patrick Leonard;
  • Chris Kruk;
  • Mike Leah;
  • Michael Acevedo;
  • Daniel Zack;
  • Nathan Gamble;
  • Christian Harder;
  • Andy Wilson;
  • Randy Ohel;
  • Jonathan Little.

All of these people are players or content creators who have had a large amount of success player poker.

2. Female Gambler Claudine Williams

Claudine Williams

One of the most influential women in the history of the Las Vegas strip, Claudine Williams paved the way for many other women in the gambling industry.


Claudine Williams first started working in the gaming industry when she was only 15 years old. She would first start her career in the gambling industry at a private club in Bossier Parish, where she worked as a card dealer. She had great aspirations from the beginning, vowing to “run the place” one day. She would eventually move to Houston, where she would meet her husband, Shelby Williams. Both worked in the same club, Claudine in the casino, Shelby in the sportsbook department. The two would soon marry and have a son, Michael. Their marriage was not just a personal partnership, it would show itself to be a productive professional relationship as well. Claudine and Shelby were invited to Las Vegas by a good friend of theirs and were offered a partnership in managing the Las Vegas Sands. Claudine did not initially want to move to Las Vegas, but she would eventually change her mind. In 1956 Claudine and her husband bought the Silver Slipper. After managing it for some time, they were approached by Howard Hughes. He was interested in buying the casino from them. As Shelby´s health was worsening, they decided to take the offer. He would die a few years later, leaving Claudine to manage the Holiday Casino by herself. She would sell the casino to Harrah´s six years later, agreeing to become chairwoman of the board of Harrah´s Las Vegas. She would remain there until her death in 2009, at 88 years of age.

Other achievements

Williams has been part of Nevada´s industry outside of just gambling as well. She has been chairman of the board of Nevada Commerce Bank, a commissioner on the Nevada State Commission on Tourism, and served on the government affairs committee and the board of advisors of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. Williams was also a founding member and past chairman of the UNLV Foundation Board of Trustees and a dedicated supporter of numerous charitable and educational organizations through the Williams Foundation.

3. Female Gambler Judy Bayley

Before even Claudine Williams, there was Judy Bayley, the first woman to own a casino fully by herself.

Personal life

Judy Bayley was born in 1915 in Dallas Texas to Ada and Fred Belk. She showed her love of entertaining people when she was young, showing her talent in dancing and performing in front of people. She would go on to attend Southern Methodist University, where she would graduate with a double major in music and English. She would marry her husband in 1936, a man known as Warren “Doc” Bayley. Doc was already an investor before they got married and was the owner and operator of a chain of hotels in California at the time. The two of them would move to Las Vegas in 1953 with aspirations of expanding their chain of hotels to the growing business on the Las Vegas Strip. They would open the Hacienda hotel in 1956, adding the casino a year later. Doc would come to pass in 1964. This made Judy the first woman in Nevada´s history to be the sole owner and operator of a casino. She would continue returning the Hacienda to profitability despite having no formal business training herself. She would pass away herself in 1971.

Business strategy

Her talents in entertainment informed her business decisions greatly. She recognized that it was necessary and valuable for a company to remain in the public eye. She took significant efforts to ensure that both her hotel as well as she herself remained in the media spotlight. It was these efforts that led her to receive the nickname of “the First Lady of Gambling.” Aside from her promotional efforts, she had a very active part to play in running the casino´s operations. She would oversee the addition of Poker, Pan, and Keno to the games, and even designed a new sign for the casino.

Bayley was a great philanthropist as well. She raised large amounts of money to fight cancer and heart disease, along with donating to organizations that would assist children in need. She even used Hacienda´s showroom to host a telethon for the city´s first heart fund. This event would mainly benefit Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Cancer Society. She became involved in raising funds to finance a new performing arts centre in 1971. She would donate 65.000 dollars, and the theatre would be named in her honour posthumously, to thank her for her many contributions to the city and its people.

4. Female Gambler Annie Duke

Annie Duke

Anne LaBarr Duke, born the 13th of September 1965, is an American former professional poker player. She is also an author on the cognitive processes of decision-making.

Personal life

Duke grew in Concord, New Hampshire. Her father taught English at a local prep-school, while her mother was a teacher at a public high school. Her parents both regularly played cards, with is how Duke first came into contact with card-games. She is not the only person in her family with an interest in poker, as her brother is professional poker player Howard Lederer.

She studied at Columbia University, where she pursued a double major in English and psychology. After graduating there, she went on to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, but she dropped out before she had to defend her doctoral dissertation.

Achievements in poker

Duke first achieved some impressive results in the 1994 World series of Poker, where she placed 14th, 5th and 26th in the main event. She would continue playing poker through the 90s, leading to her having had 16 in the money finished at WSOP events by 2000.

Duke became more well-known from 2000 on, as she would end up in high positions at WSOP events several times. She placed 10th out of 512 in the 2000 world championship, which was the second-highest finish by a woman in the history of the event. She would receive a World Series of Poker bracelet in 2004, after she placed first out of 234 entrants in an Omaha Hi-Lo Split tournament. By July of the same year, she had become the top female money winner of the WSOP.

Duke does not play poker anymore. She described herself as retired from poker in 2020, stating that she had not played since 2012. She is currently still placed fourth overall on the list of women all-time live tournament winnings.

5. Female Gambler Kristen Bicknell

A younger player who has been almost equally successful as her older colleagues, Kristen Bicknell is a Canadian professional poker player born on the 29th of December, 1986 in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Career in poker

Bicknell first came into contact with poker once she had entered her freshman year of college. She began playing online in 2006. She first hit Supernova Elite status on PokerStars in 2011, which requires players to play around 2.5 million hands in a year. She mostly focused on low stake games where she could play as many hands as possible with the smallest amount of risk.

She won the 2013 Ladies No Limit Hold´em Championship, winning 173,922 dollars. In 2016, Bicknell won the No-Limit hold’em bounty event and earned 290,768 dollars. She was the highest-ranked live tournament female poker player in 2017, ranking just above Maria Lampropulos and Maria Ho.

Bicknell appeared on Poker After Dark for a ladies only cash game. This game was titled “Femme Fatale” week. She would go to events in Australia and Uruguay that same year, winning the APPT National High Roller in Macau for 79.549 dollars.

The coronavirus-pandemic caused most live tournaments in 2020 to cease in favour of online tournaments. Bicknell would participate in several online poker games through the year, cashing nine times in the online Super High Roller Bowl series, including a 236,000 dollar score with 3rd place in a 25,500 dollar

Bicknell went on to win her third World Series of Poker bracelet as part of its 2020 online series with a $356,412 victory in the $2500 No Limit Hold’Em 6-Handed event.

As of March 2021, her total live tournament winnings exceed $5,188,000 and she has won the World Series of Poker bracelet three separate times. In her personal life she is married to fellow professional poker players Alex Foxen.

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