Bathrooms at World Series of Poker Stir Debate
Some Female Players Unhappy With Removal of Bathroom Near Amazon
There are two bathrooms along the wall of the main hallway in the Rio Convention Center. In years past, there was one men’s room and one women’s room. In an effort to mitigate long lines, both have been reserved for men at the 2012 WSOP.
Those two bathrooms are the closest and most convenient for poker players in the Amazon Room, the primary tournament floor space, according to bracelet-winner Vanessa Selbst. She’s not happy with the change.
“I get [the decision] for starting days of huge events, where there is always a huge line out the [men’s] bathroom,” Selbst told Card Player during a break in Tuesday’s $1,500 no-limit hold’em. “But, days like today, when there is never a huge line outside the men’s room, it’s really not that big of a space issue. I just think it sends a really bad message to women. It’s not inviting of women in poker.”
Selbst said it’s fine if you are in other places, such as the Pavilion and Brasilia Rooms, because there’s a bathroom nearby, but it’s inconvenient if in the Amazon. She added that women don’t have time to go to the bathroom unless it’s a break in play — meaning that one can’t leave while waiting for a hand to play out.
Selbst said the women she’s talked to are all in agreement. Fellow poker pro Maria Ho Tweeted: “@VanessaSelbst @wsop I strongly agree with Vanessa and am extremely concerned about the message it sends. Please reassess.”
Seth Palansky, communications director for the WSOP, said there will be a meeting Wednesday to discuss the issue. Palansky said there was “good rationale” for the decision. According to Palansky, 97 percent of WSOP players are male.
Palansky also pointed out that there are portable facilities for both genders out back, close to the Amazon Room. He said that the Rio would ideally have more bathrooms, but that new ones can’t be built.
Poker Hall of Famer Linda Johnson Tweeted late Tuesday that the WSOP had reversed the decision, but she didn’t name a source.
There have been other occasions when Selbst has felt that the annual poker festival isn’t cognizant of its female players.
“There have been a couple instances, not just this, where it feels like they aren’t really inviting of women — comments that are made like ‘Let the best man win.’ We talk a lot about trying to invite women to poker — that’s why we have the ladies event. Then you get things like this, and it’s really counter-productive. It’s not that anyone is doing it on purpose, but people just don’t see the implications. I really don’t think it’s a small point.”
At around 7:30 p.m. local time in Las Vegas, Selbst was chip leading with about 50 players left in the $1,500 no-limit. The top prize in event no. 2 is $517,000.
Update: On Wednesday, May 30, the WSOP changed the aforementioned bathroom back to women’s.
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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