Florida Man Wins Women’s Poker Tournament at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood

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Bearded 70-year-old David Hughes bagged the top prize at the late April Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in Hollywood, FL, in what was billed as an exclusively women’s tournament.

Hughes, of Deltona, FL, bought into the $250 tournament three times before emerging with $5,555 in winnings.

By entering, he took advantage of a controversial state law that prevents entertainment venues from discriminating by gender, race, religion, or nationality.

Many of the 80 women playing in the tournament were not impressed, with some targeting his pot specifically throughout play. However, Hughes eventually outlasted them all and came away as the winner on the night.

Related: Our complete guide to Florida’s gambling laws

Dead Money

Pro poker player Ebony Kenney was also playing in the event. She took to Twitter to publicize that Hughes was playing in the supposedly all-female poker game.

“Dave here is the only man. While we appreciate the dead money, I really wish men would get what these events stand for. So I put a $300 bounty on his head and Tamra & Noah Piderit matched it,” Kenny said in a video.

In the end, though, it turned out his dead money was alive and kicking, as he took the win.

Hughes is an amateur poker player, but he has seen some cash successes in the past. This $5555 win is his third-best, with the rest coming in more usual circumstances. In 2022, he took home $11,565 after coming in second in a Winter Series Open event in Jacksonville, FL.

“Real Issues”

Other professional poker players also weighed in on the story. British player Charlie Carell said that while it was “hilarious” that Hughes won, it highlights a “real issue that people are taking advantage of in many different areas.”

Many competitive sports in the US are segregated by sex. Traditionalists say that these laws remain fair, as they promote competitive integrity, and they should be applied to people born as one gender who then switch to the other.

Supporters of trans rights and other progressives claim that such laws are discriminatory and unfair.

In Florida, transgender females are banned from female sports teams and vice versa.

“Girls are going to play girls’ sports and boys are going to play boys’ sports,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) said after signing off on the ban in 2021.

However, poker is not considered a sport, so it doesn’t fall under the law. Highlighting the discrepancy in regulation may have been part of Hughes’ motivation to take part in the event.

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

Hughes isn’t the only man to have entered and won a women’s event. In 2009, one-time World Series of Poker Champion Abraham Korotki made headlines when took the top prize at an ostensibly all-female event at the Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City.

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