Two years after being announced as finalists, eight inspirational women in the poker world will battle it out for a Platinum Pass to the PSPC 2023 at EPT Barcelona.
To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, PokerStars asked the public to nominate women from around the world who have been inspirational in poker or have made an impact on the poker community. The entries came in thick and fast via email and on Twitter.
Narrowing down all of the incredible nominations was not an easy task, but a panel of internal and external judges managed to whittle down the entries to a shortlist, before deciding on nine finalists.
The final nine were awarded an expenses-paid trip to a major PokerStars live event where they would compete in a single-table tournament to win a Platinum Pass worth $30,000.
Alas, delays ensued. But this year live poker returned bigger and better than ever before.
You’ll get to watch the whole thing play out, too, as PokerStars will be streaming the event across our channels with commentary from Maria Ho and Jennifer Shahade.
The tournament takes place on August 15 at 1pm CEST. It will be a standard eight-handed single-table tournament with each player starting with 20,000 chips. Blinds start at 100/100/100 and are scheduled to increase every 15 minutes.
The winner takes all, with the champion receiving a Platinum Pass.
Now let’s meet the finalists.
*One of the finalists, Jan Fisher, is unable to attend and will receive a Road to PSPC package instead.
Daiva Byrne is a 39-year-old professional poker player from Lithuania, living in Manchester, and is the Founder of FLIP “Fantastic Ladies in Poker”, the largest global female-only poker community on Facebook that supports, celebrates & empowers women in the world of poker.
Prior to playing poker for a living, Byrne worked in financial services in the City of London and has a degree in Business Management. She has run numerous ladies’ events over the years and in March 2022 she hosted her inaugural event for FLIP with over 100 women attending and connecting with fellow female poker players from across the world.
On her nomination, Byrne said: “When I found out I was thrilled by the support. To be part of the top nine you need to have so many votes from the community, which means so much. Knowing that people appreciate what I do encourages me to continue to strive for more equality in poker. I’m honoured to be on that list with these other amazing women who are all very deserving.”
A Bank Sales executive turned semi-professional poker player, Christina Read has been playing poker for nearly 15 years. The last five years have been dedicated to tournaments. Read is the founder of the women’s poker group ‘Poker Queens’ which supports fellow female poker players through cheerleading for the ladies and sharing tips and advice. She also coaches and mentors other female players.
Growing up in a small town in Louisiana, Read moved to Atlanta where she was in the Automotive Industry and worked her way up from Salesperson to Vice President of Sales Dealer Financial Services for a large regional bank.
After proving herself in the corporate world, Read was looking for a new challenge and decided to pursue her personal passion for poker and became a full-time player. She has been very successful, winning many poker tournaments including the titles of Malta Poker Festival Ladies Champion and LIPS National Champion in 2022. In addition to founding Poker Queens, she is also an Advocate of the Women’s Poker Association representing Louisiana and Mississippi. Read also just started a YouTube Channel – Chris Read Em & Weep – Poker, Travel & More.
When finding out about her nomination, Read commented: “It’s so amazing to be taking part – it’s not something you get to do every day, and the chance to win and play in the PSPC makes it all the more special. It’s such an elite tournament, it would be incredible to participate and play alongside some of the world’s top poker players!”
Katie Stone from Brigantine, NJ, is a professional player who entered the world of poker in 2005 after years of playing chess.
With a natural interest in strategy games, Stone took up playing poker more regularly in mid-2009 and has since seen great success, rising through the ranks to become a sponsored player. She even lived in Mexico for three years so she could play, but moved back to New Jersey in 2014 when online poker was legalized.
Understanding the importance of females supporting one another, Stone also founded The Grindettes, a group of four inspirational women in poker that inspire, celebrate, and support one another through the game.
When finding about her nomination, Stone said: “I am beyond grateful and so very excited for this upcoming tournament! PokerStars is a big reason I play poker for a living; the 45-man and 180-man Sit & Go games are how I built my bankroll back in 2009.”
Originally a doctor by profession, 35-year-old Italian player Giada Fang decided to switch career paths and dedicate her life to poker following a major motorbike accident that put her on bed rest for three months.
To make the most of the downtime and earn some money, her friends convinced her to play poker online. In doing so, she immediately fell in love with the excitement of Sit & Go games. Instead of heading back into medicine, Fang decided to make poker her main job.
Over the course of 10 years playing as a professional, Fang has been a representative of the PokerStars Team online (2011 – 2017) and has also done various stints as a commentator for Italian poker tournaments. She is now the first European Female Supernova Elité and describes herself as a passionate girl with a love for fitness, adrenaline sports, and video games.
When finding out about her nomination, she commented: “It feels great to be nominated, I’m truly honoured to receive this opportunity, particularly when there are so many deserving women in the world!”
An active player since 2005, Meichelle Culhane today volunteers as a poker teacher for senior citizens at the Broken Arrow Senior Activity Centre. She grew up playing penny-ante poker on holidays with her family and she became instantly infatuated by the game.
Understanding the power of poker in bringing people together, Culhane spent five years campaigning for the creation of a poker group at her local Senior Centre. She finally got the nod from management to start the class in 2017 and, five years on, she now teaches 19 women between the ages of 65-89, as well as a small group of men.
When finding out about her nomination, Culhane said: “This is an OMG moment! I am humbled to be selected. People always tell me that my story is a great poker story, but it’s really about the women at the Senior Centre I volunteer for. Thank you, PokerStars for getting their story out there. I am just the messenger of hope for other senior citizen women.”
Terry Hatcher is a Canadian poker player, now residing in Las Vegas, who developed her card skills with her family and then at home games with friends. She spends every Monday night on PokerStars Home Games, managing a ladies’ tournament where all proceeds have gone to female non-profit charities – raising over $30,000 to date.
In 2019, Hatcher obtained her Tournament Directors Association (TDA) certificate and took up a position as tournament director in Austin’s largest card room. It was also in this same year that she won a WSOP circuit ring.
Commenting on her nomination, she says: “It’s so exciting and rewarding! I have put in a lot of hours into growing ladies’ poker and it’s nice to be recognised. This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
In 2008, Lexi Sterner’s dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given a five per cent chance of survival. Her uncle would come over and play poker to keep him busy. Lexi started playing with them and instantly fell in love with the game.
Thankfully, her dad ultimately beat the odds and this inspired her to go to nursing school, where she played poker throughout college. In 2009, Lexi’s mother suffered kidney failure, and it was a dealer from the local casino, whom she’d never met, who donated a kidney.
Stern said: “This game has given me so much. I’d love nothing more than to win a Platinum Pass and have a platform to donate a percentage of my earnings to pancreatic cancer and organ donation charities.”
35-year-old Paris-born Aurelie Reard has been playing poker professionally for nine years and competes in tournaments all around the world.
No stranger to being the only woman at the table, Reard was an audio-visual engineer in her prior professional life and the only female in her class. With this, she developed the resilience, confidence, and a fearless approach to excel in a male-dominated world.
Today, she spends her time playing with and promoting other female players, helping them to dream bigger and believe in their own power to succeed. She names Canadian player Kristen Bicknell as one of the most inspirational women in poker and ‘the best player in the world’ in her opinion.
Reard now lives in Cardiff, Wales, with her husband Alex, her cat and her dog, called ‘Gamble’.
When finding out about her nomination, she commented: “Wow, I’m so excited! I’m very grateful to all my friends and the people who put my name forward, and to the judges for naming me to be such an inspirational woman in poker. It’s amazing!”