Florida Man Wins Women’s Event at Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown

A 70-year-old Florida man won a poker event over the weekend that was supposed to be reserved for women.

ladies event poker man male Seminole Hard Rock
Poker aficionado David Hughes is a man who still managed to win a ladies’ poker event. Hughes’ first-place finish at the $250 Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Deep Stack at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown won him $5,555. (Image: Twitter)

David Hughes of Deltona, Fla., took advantage of a little-known state law that bars casinos and card clubs from preventing men from entering poker tournaments advertised as ladies’ events. Hughes decided to participate in the $250 Ladies No-Limit Hold’em Deep Stack event on Saturday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. The resort was hosting its annual Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown.

After busting two times, Hughes bought in for a third time. It turned out to be a winning wager, as he eventually outlasted the 80 other entries to claim the event’s top prize of $5,555.

Florida’s anti-discrimination laws mandate that gaming establishments not separate events by gender, race, religion, national origin, or familial status. Hughes’ participation, however, stirred much controversy in the Seminole poker room on Saturday night.

Poker pro Ebony Kenney, who herself was playing in the tournament, placed a $300 bounty on Hughes to entice players to target his pots. But the bounty perhaps helped Hughes, as others played aggressively against the poker amateur who has played live tournaments for years.

Hughes Outlasts the Ladies

Many of his female competitors didn’t take too kindly to Hughes’ participation. Along with Keeney issuing a $300 bounty, players scolded Hughes at the felt and regularly made gestures toward him, such as a thumbs down directed his way.

Kenney tweeted that Hughes, at one point, responded to his female critics, saying he “could pretend to identify as a woman because they allow anything these days.”

Hughes has cashed out 38 other times over the past decade, according to The Hendon Mob, an online poker database that tracks tournament results.

Hughes’ best result was a third-place finish at the 2021 Great American Poker Tournament’s $100,000 Summer Event at the Daytona Beach Racing & Card Club, winning $17,080. He also won $11,565 after placing second at a 2022 Winter Series Open event in Jacksonville.

Most of Hughes’ other cash wins have been small payouts of less than $1,000. His $5,555 victory at the ladies’ event marked his third-best live cash performance.

National Issue

Hughes’ poker win is just the latest controversy in the ongoing debate about transgender people participating in sports and/or competitions with genders that they might not have been aligned with at birth.

Competitive sports have long been sex-segregated. Supporters of such segregation say biological differences between males and females can make competitions unfair should a person born as a male later identify as a female and seek to participate in women’s sports.

Florida lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in 2021 banned transgender females from participating in public school teams intended only for student-athletes born female.

“In Florida, girls are going to play girls’ sports and boys are going to play boys’ sports,” DeSantis said after signing the bill.

The public schooling athletics law doesn’t cover poker events. That’s because Florida doesn’t consider the casino game a sport. As such, businesses hosting such poker games cannot discriminate based on gender.

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