There are positives and there are negatives when the turnout for a Day 1 flight of a poker tournament is less than 100 people. Among the positives: it's very easy to determine exactly how many players in the field are female.
I know we harp on this seemingly meaningless gender distinction. But the fact that it is seemingly meaningless is perhaps the strongest reason to harp on it. There is no reason that women can't excel in poker just as much as men. That's been proven many times by top female tournament players like Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst.
And yet, despite this potential, the participation of women in big buy-in poker remains flat at about 10% of the field. Today in Cebu, 7 of the 76 players are female: Team PokerStars Pros Celina Lin and Vivian Im, Jay Tan, Cathy Hong, Kitty Kuo, Mari Fukunaga and Juicy Li. All of these women are accomplished poker players with significant tournament achievements under their belts. And yet, statistical aberrations being what they are, the early levels of Day 1b have been uniformly tough for all of them.
Things started off badly when Jay's stack dipped downward from the moment she sat down. She was eliminated before the end of Level 2. She could have opted to hit the pool or the beach but with poker still on the brain she did the next best thing to playing the tournament: she grabbed a seat in a P100/200 cash game.
Cathy, the long-time girlfriend of Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, and Juicy soon joined Jay on the rail.
For the four women who remained in the tournament at the start of Level 4, things weren't much better. Vivian, the reigning champion of this event, was down to 4,000 in chips, just 13 big blinds. Mari was only marginally better with about 7,000.
That left the female hopes on two women who are very well known in the Macau poker scene: Kitty and Celina. They've failed to gain any upwards momentum, but at least both are still holding level at around the starting stack. Kitty picked up kings early on and had to fold to multi-street pressure from an opponent on an ace-high board. Celina seems happy and well-rested after a month in Melbourne, Australia visiting family and friends, but she too has repeatedly been forced to fold to strong bets and raises.
A day like today is tough for anybody, never mind people who, perhaps unfairly, are forced to carry the mantle for their entire gender as poker players. But poker is a game of statistical aberrations and highly improbably events. The fairer sex is just as prone to them as the rest of us.
Who knows though -- in a few days we may be re-visiting this post as, for the second year in a row, we crown a female APPT champion. In a game of improbabilities, isn't that improbability as likely as any other?