Great cultures such as the Norse once relied on women to provide the insight needed during pagan gambling rituals. However, over the years women have faced suppression of their rights and freedom, including the right to bet. With women’s rights once again gaining momentum let’s take a look a some of the influential gals of gambling through the ages.
Pagan Witches – The Spiritual Gambling Women
In ancient pagan religious cultures such as the Nordic and the Vikings, female wisdom was worshiped. They worshiped the goddess Freya and her alleged human descendants, who were said to have intuitive powers, clairvoyance, visions and magical abilities. Known as “Volva,” these spiritual women were the key to game rituals and sacrifices to the gods. The rituals involved throwing special items such as crystals and determining whether they ended up as odds or odds of winning – clearly related to the concept of dicing. Evens meant “yes,” while weird results meant “no” or “doom.”
Female forces were used to influence the roles and attract the Norse gods to bless people. They also influenced the lots that were drawn to see who would be sacrificed! “Lucky women” were very much in demand for gambling and believed that they could conjure ghosts and gain the grace of the gods. And we can still see their influence in the idiomatic “Lady Luck”.
Ancient Rome – Gambling and The Goddess
Ancient Rome was also a place of great respect for the power of women when it came to luck and gambling. The Romans honored the feminine energy of Fortuna – the goddess of chance, luck, fate and gambling. Due to the unpredictable nature of gambling, she was represented by art, words and statues that were both dark and bright – luck and bad luck.
The goddess Fortuna was loved by the poor, slaves and citizens who prayed to her to change her life. Despite the influence of the goddess of fortune in Roman times, the women did not really have so much luck. While men were allowed to play freely at home and in public, women were legally allowed to play only during the Bona Dea Festival – a pure women’s party! During the reign of Emperor Nero between 37 and 68 AD, the rules were relaxed and women and men played without restriction.
The Secret Gambling Parties – For Ladies Only
In 1792 King George III. The “Vice-Law Proclamation” directed against playing women because they were “immoral.” And in the 19th century, when the world took on the prudish Victorian-era morality, gambling increasingly became an “unladylike” for aristocratic women in public. Men were allowed to play in gambling clubs and social events, while women were forced to hide at home if they wanted to pamper themselves.
In response, many empowered women undertook to become the card game master Faro. They were named ‘Faro Ladies’ or ‘Faro’s Daughters’. Key representatives of the Faro parties included Lady Sarah Archer and Lady Elizabeth Luttrell. Unfortunately, these ladies would get a fine if they were caught at the Faro table!
Poker Face Alice – The Rise of Female Poker
The Wild West is full of famous tales of gunslingers, raiders, gold diggers, hustlers and gamblers. Less well known but just as exciting is the story of ‘Poker Face Alice’. The notorious Alice Ivers created chaos in the rooms of the casino bars, which reportedly spanned New Mexico and Arizona to Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and South Dakota.
Alice, the ultimate hustler, notoriously lured unsuspecting men (and no doubt women) to the table, which inevitably made her regret. She won huge (for the time) $ 6,000 in a New Mexico casino and let everyone down. Along the way, Poker Face Alice managed to win three husbands, one of the city’s hottest revolvers, and her own salon where she set the rules of the game.
7uppaigowpokerJump forward to modernity and women have made similar advances in modern poker play. Firstly, in 1977, the launch of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) for women took place against men who attempted to end the event with allegations of sexual discrimination. Nonetheless, the female game has developed well as Vanessa Selbst, the number one poker winner, has recorded $ 10,695,299.