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Man wins women’s poker tournament in Florida, sparks heated debate

A man won a women’s poker tournament at a Florida casino over the weekend, sparking a heated debate on social media.

David Hughes, of Deltona, Florida, finished first in the $250 buy-in Ladies No-limit Hold’em (Re-Entry) event Saturday during the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

Hughes earned $5,555 for the victory after defeating Dayanna Ciabaton heads-up. The event drew 83 entries.

A poker website identified Hughes as a “70-year-old bearded man.”

According to anti-discrimination laws, Florida casinos are not permitted to ban men from entering a women’s event.

Nevada also prohibits poker tournaments from barring men from entering women’s tournaments. The World Series of Poker’s Ladies event is a $10,000 buy-in tournament with a 90 percent discount for women to deter men from entering.

Hughes’ presence at the final table created a stir, and professional poker player Ebony Kenney said on Twitter she put a $300 bounty on him that was matched by several others in the poker community. The bounty reached over $2,000, though it went unclaimed.

Kenney was critical of Hughes entering the tournament, as were many other poker pros and casual observers. British pro Charlie Carrel weighed in on the issue of gender identity and commented in part, “It pokes fun at the idea that anybody can identify as a woman and be allowed to enter women’s spaces.”

This is not the first time a man has finished first in a tournament intended only for women. In 2009, Abraham Korotki, a former WSOP Circuit event champion, won the $300 buy-in Ladies No-limit Hold’em event at the Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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