Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

WATCH: Man Enters And Wins Ladies Poker Tournament In South Florida

David Hughes Irks Women En Route To Hard Rock Poker Showdown Ladies Event Title


The Hard Rock Poker Showdown ladies event drew a field of 82 women, and one man.

David Hughes, a male poker player from De Leon Springs, Florida, was one of the 83 total entries in the $250 buy-in tournament, which is traditionally an event meant only for women.

His unwelcomed presence was almost immediately noticed by others in the field, including poker pro Ebony Kenney, who put a bounty on his head of $300 for anybody who knocked him out. Several others jumped in, including people following the tournament on social media.

By the time the field reached the money bubble, the bounty on Hughes was up to more than $2,100, which was the equivilant of third-place money.

You can see a video of Hughes playing below, taken by Kenney.

To his credit, Hughes was reportedly unbothered by the bounty, and even threw an extra $100 on top himself. However, Kenney reported that his demeanor changed once he got heads-up with Dayanna Ciabaton, and that he “talked completely disrespectfully to the dealer” while the “nice guy facade crumbled.”

Unfortunately for Ciabaton, Hughes came back in their heads-up match to win the tournament, but as the last-woman standing, she did claim the bounty.

The event was part of the World Poker Tour series being held at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida. The WPT has made a commitment to growing the game among women poker players, announcing a series of 13 new events for their season XXI schedule that leads up to the WPT Ladies Championship at the Wynn this December.

Of course, men have entered women’s poker tournaments before.

In 2007, former Major League Baseball player Jose Canseco made headlines when he and five other men demanded to be allowed to play in a ladies event at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles.

In 2009, Abraham Korotki won a $300 buy-in ladies event at the Borgata in Atlantic City. In that case, Korotki pledged a portion of his $20,982 to cancer research in honor of the woman he defeated heads-up, who was also battling breast cancer at the time.

Shaun Deeb infamously dressed in drag while competing in the World Series of Poker Ladies Championship in 2011, stating that he would also donate his winnings to charity.

After seeing 11 men enter the tournament overall, the series responded by raising the buy-in to $10,000 while giving ladies a 90 percent discount to $1,000. It was a move designed to get around state anti-discrimination laws.

Despite the 10x buy-in, Tony Roberto played in the event in 2017 after losing a prop bet.

A man by the name of Tom Hammers also entered the tournament in 2021, earmarking any winnings to charity. He did not cash, however, and would have had to finish in eighth place or better in order to profit.

Another controversy occured at the 2019 Battle of Malta poker series, where tournament organizers decided that the women’s event needed topless male dealers at each table. The majority of the ladies in the field were upset by the distraction, and the dealers were asked to put their clothes back on after the first tournament break. To apologize, the tour donated all the tournament fees and rake to a women’s organization.

For his part, women in attendance said that Hughes cited the WSOP’s rule change as one of the reasons why he was competing at the Hard Rock. In this case, his “protest” also netted him a cash worth $5,555, although he did buy into the tournament three times.

Hughes’ wife posted on social media a few days later that she was proud of her husband for enduring “hours of mean and nasty comments.” She said that he played the event because it was the only tournament running and he had driven in from four hours away. He apparently asked a floorman if he was allowed to play before entering. She also made note of the bounty, which she felt that Ciabaton “did not earn.”

The first major ladies tournament played out in 1977 at the WSOP with a $100 stud event.

Poker Hall of Famer Linda Johnson, known as the First Lady of Poker, warned that the bounty could have a Streisand effect and encourage more men to play.

“I love ladies-only poker tournaments,” Johnson wrote. “I would have no problem with them having a men’s-only, and I wouldn’t enter it as I would not qualify for it. I would have no problem if they had a tournament for 26-year-old, motorcycle-riding, mohawk-haircut players and I wouldn’t enter it because I wouldn’t qualify.”

“I don’t think men should play in ladies-only tournaments. That said, I think there is a total overreaction to the few men who do enter. They are usually looking for attention, so why give it to them? I think we should just ignore them and play our best.”

While most of the poker community felt that Hughes should not have played in the event, which is designed to be an outlet for women to learn the game in a more casual, friendly atmosphere, a small minority of players take issue with women’s-only tournaments, and feel that events should be open to everyone regardless of gender.

Meanwhile, the WSOP Circuit ladies event in Tunica, Mississippi also played out this weekend, and was won by Cynthia Compton for her third gold ring overall.

The Poker World Reacts

Looking for ladies events? Check out to visit the Women In Poker page for complete schedules, results, and the latest news.