This is a man’s world, according to funk icon James Brown, and – when it comes to the testosterone-saturated arena of the casino floor – the Godfather is generally on the money.
However, there are some notable exceptions to the gender rule. This week, we’re hanging out with the fairer sex and presenting a select handful of double X chromosome carrying entities that really know how to cut the mustard in the casino.
#1. Jennifer Tilly
Women poker players are a force to be reckoned with and there are many noteworthy players, including Annie Duke, Jennifer Harman, Liv Boeree, and Shannon Elizabeth.
Our favourite, however, is the husky gravel-voiced beauty Jennifer Tilly. Oscar nominated for her supporting role in Bullets Over Broadway, and the voice behind Family Guy’s Betty Swanson, Tilly is the coolest cat at the card table.
Anyone sat next to her at the blackjack table will have a hard time concentrating, if they recall her lesbian romp-a-rama in the fabulous low budget crime caper and Wachowski brothers debut Bound.
#2. Eleanor Dumont
Honorable, fair, and with a lot of facial hair. Eleanor Dumont was a French woman who emigrated to America as a young woman in the early-mid 19th century. She was an accomplished card dealer and worked across the country before opening up her own place in Nevada City, California.
Her exclusive club – ‘Vingt-et-un’ – was open to only well-kept men who came to admire her beauty and marvel at her card playing and dealing skills. She gambled her way to a fortune. As she grew old, the facial hair sprouted and the moniker Madame Moustache was born. She killed herself in 1879, after a particularly bad night at the tables, with a dose of hydrocyanic acid.
#3. Kitty Le Roy
A beautiful and crooked gambler, Madame Le Roy’s rich husbands tended to die shortly after they had run out of money. Not just a saloon owner and professional gambler, Le Roy was a crack shot and would shoot apples off of people’s heads for money.
After she married for the fifth time, she started an affair with Wild Bill Hickok. Her jilted husband was unimpressed and shot both Le Roy and himself.
#4. Pamela Anderson
Baywatch beauty and sex tape star Pamela Anderson has got a healthy appetite for both slots and poker. Last year, her marriage to professional poker player Rick Salomon folded but Pamela is still in the game.
On the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Anderson admitted to settling a $250,000 gambling debt “with sexual favours”. So, the next time you’re sat next to Pam in the casino, enjoying a game of blackjack or craps, don’t worry about advancing her a few dollars: you’ll get it back – one way or another…
#5. Ida Summers
The ‘Vegas Vixen’ used her good looks in the 1960s and 1970s to deflect the heat. At just 5’3” and 100lb, the mild-mannered Summers was an expert at sleight of hand. Her specialties were ‘hand mucking’ and ‘switching decks’.
She could switch an entire deck of pre-dealt cards, under the nose of the croupier. She could also remove and return cards to the deck, to shape the play at the table. The fact that she was one of the first female cheats in Las Vegas made her something of a legend in the criminal underworld.