Most Famous Female Gamblers of All TimeWhen casinos are mentioned, most people imagine men in tuxedos, smoking cigars, and playing poker

Even though the gambling world has somehow always been reserved for men, women have managed to find their way around it and get their share of the entertainment.

What is more, some women have been exceptionally successful in the gambling industry, which is why they have deserved to be known by the general public.

  1. Maria Barcelo

    Maria Gertrudis BarceloMaria Gertrudis Barcelo was born back in 1800 and grew to be one of the first female professional gamblers and saloon owners. She had a few nicknames, including:

    • “La Tules”
    • “the Gambling Queen of Santa Fe”
    • “Queen of Sin”

    Her appearance and activities were a subject for discussion among people who knew her, and rumor has it that she made a lot of money in the 19th century thanks to the people’s movement in New Mexico.

    After she died in 1850, Barcelo left many properties and a small fortune from her gambling business behind.

    • At that time, the amount Maria Barcelo left behind was close to $10,000, which is equivalent to today’s $350,000.

    It is said that her funeral was quite lavish and visited by many residents of Santa Fe.

  2. Lotte Deno

    Lotte DenoIn the 19th century, Texas was home to one of the greatest female poker players ever — Carlotta Thompkins, also known as “Lotte Deno”. Conveniently enough, she got her nickname Deno from the Spanish word for money — dinero.

    Deno was born in Kentucky, where she was taught all about gambling and sports betting directly from her father, who had a career in the industry.

    Her mother, however, wasn’t amused by the fact that her daughter was becoming a gambler, so she decided to send her to Detroit, where she was supposed to get married.

    After she had wasted all her money, Deno turned back to gambling and fell for a guy from her own flock. The man in question was Frank Thurman, a bettor and an outlaw, who visited saloons across America with Lotte and played cards on the go.
    After leading such a nomadic life for some time, Letto and Frank decided to pursue their dream of opening a casino in New Mexico.

    • Eventually, they decided to pull back from the gambling world and donate their money to charitable causes, after which they started a normal life in Deming, a city in New Mexico.
  3. Judy Bayley

    Judy BayleyJudy Bayley was born in Texas in 1915. Around her 50th birthday, she became known as “The First Lady of Gambling” in Nevada.

    In 1964, after the unfortunate death of her husband, Warren Doc Bayley, Judy became a female gambling lord and the first-ever woman in Nevada’s history to own and operate a hotel-casino all by herself.

    Although she had no formal education needed for the business world, Judy made some great moves due to her pure love for the entertainment industry. Apart from being the owner of the gambling establishment, she also worked on its publicity and managed to keep it highly popular among players.

    For all this hard work and devotion to her business, Judy became famous around the world. Not only was her casino operating exceptionally well, but she also partnered with some of the best restaurants out there.

    • Judy was always present in the casino and had a good relationship with her staff, for which she was highly praised after her death in 1971.
  4. Claudine Williams

    Claudine WilliamsClaudine Williams was another woman that left a mark in Nevada’s gambling history. From an early age, Williams started helping her mother in a local cafeteria and picked up all the tips and tricks about running a business.

    When she grew up, she moved to Texas and started learning all there is to know about the gambling industry from some of the most notable gambling professionals. In the 1960s, Williams moved to Las Vegas with her partner Shelby, where she made a deal with Howard Hughes, one of the richest men in America. This helped her found Holiday Casino and become the first woman in Nevada to own and operate a female casino strip club.

    • Once her husband died, Williams moved on with her business and became completely devoted to her career. Apart from being the casino executive, she also became the president of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

    On top of that, Williams was famous for her philanthropic work and a plethora of donations used to fund:

    • Local charities
    • Universities
    • Various education projects
  5. Annette Obrestad

    Annette ObrestadAnnette Obrestad was born in 1988 with a gift for playing poker. According to her claims, Obrestad started her poker career when she was only 15 by participating in free poker tournaments.

    Nevertheless, after approximately a year of playing poker, a girl who had never deposited any money into her online poker account won more than:

    • $1,000,000 — $600,000 on Pokerstars
    • $260,000 on UltimateBet
    • $175,000 on Tilt Poker

    In 2008,, a site for tracking the most successful online poker players put her in position 51, even though she was one of the youngest female poker players ever.

    If you want to keep up with Annette you can via her personal Instagram.

  6. Kristen Bicknell

    Kristen BicknellKristen Bicknell is a Canadian female gambler who got famous for playing online poker during her first year at the university.

    • Allegedly, she played a total of 7.5 million poker hands from 2011 to 2013, which is how she got her nickname — “The Ultimate Grinder.”

    Bicknell has won three World Series of Poker bracelets, the first one being back in 2013 and the most recent one in 2020. She also took part in numerous major poker tournaments around the globe, including the week-long ‘Femme Fatale’ tournament designed only for female poker players.

    • Bicknell is known as one of the top-rated female poker players worldwide, with total winnings surpassing $4.5 million.

    You can keep up with Kristen Bicknell via here Twitter and Instagram.

  7. Vanessa Selbst

    Vanessa Selbst>Our list of most significant female gamblers wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Vanessa Selbst.

    • During her gambling career, Selbst won more than $11 million only by playing poker.

    Just like Kristen Bicknell, Selbst won three World Series of Poker bracelets and has regularly made the final table of World Poker Tour events. Naturally, Selbst also took part in numerous other major poker tournaments worldwide.
    After securing a fortune from playing poker, Vanessa Selbst decided to end her professional poker career in 2018. She is one the best-ranked professional female poker players on the all-time money list, and she still has twice as much money as the second-ranked Kathy Liebert.

    In other words, it will take some time for current female poker professionals to take over the leading position.
    Keep up with Vanessa via her personalTwitter.


According to the latest research, gambling is no longer a men-only industry.

Over the years, female players have proved that they can achieve tremendous success playing poker and operating casino establishments as well.

Therefore, if you ever find yourself surrounded by women at the poker table, or see them playing any other casino game, do not take them lightly, as you never know which one might be the world’s number one gambler.

About the Author

Author Rachel is a law student, and she is helping us out with the legal side of things regarding casino gambling in the US. The legality of gambling in the United States is continually changing, and it has especially been turbulent in the last couple of years, so knowing which states legalized gambling and which are yet to do so is getting a bit difficult. But if you need to know everything about the legality of gambling in your state, Rachel is the person to ask. She keeps track of the latest gambling bills and is ready to bring you news. During her free time, Rachel likes riding her bike and playing video games.