Ruth Hall Is Ruthless With Advocacy Of Women In Poker, Health Issues & Opponents

Written By Derek Helling on May 17, 2022 - Last Updated on May 18, 2022
Trailblazer For Women Is Ruth Hall After Victories In Poker

If you find yourself at a poker table with Ruth Hall and she sets her sights on your chips, your best option at that point might be a valiant surrender. Hall has earned the nickname of “Ruthless” with her prowess in the game and in other facets of life.

You might not be aware of the health issues Hall has and continues to overcome to become one of the most successful poker players ever. If there’s anything she enjoys more than cashing chips, though, it might be paving the way for other women to follow in her footsteps.

Poker player Ruth Hall adds another title to her growing list

Late last month, Hall won the Nevada State Ladies Poker Championship by LIPS for the second time in her career. According to the 2020 Women’s Poker Association Player of the Year, the tournament was a microcosm of her time in the game and in life as a whole.

“I truly thought I was only going to min-cash when they cut it down to about 22-23 spots,” Hall explained.

“I was that low on chips until they re-drew at 18. At that point, I think I only had one or two big blinds left. Then the cards just started coming to me and once that starts, I’m a little ruthless.”

It was Hall’s second win in the event in three years, living up to the nickname she enjoys but says she isn’t exactly sure how she got. The championship also brought her career earnings up to over $372,000. It’s just the latest accolade of her storied career, though.

Hall won a WSOP ring in West Palm Beach in 2015. She added a Golden Nugget bracelet at the Ladies International Poker Series Championship in 2009. In 2019, she won a trophy at The Orleans in the same event.

Hall is one of just two women to win such a LIPS championship twice. At that point, however, she was already a breast cancer survivor and had enjoyed tremendous success in her corporate career.

Hall conquers corporate America and breast cancer

Hall got her initial breast cancer diagnosis in 1996 but prevailed to have a successful career. She had what she describes as a stressful job managing millions of dollars worth of corporate relocations. It was in 2003 that she found poker as a way to deal with that pressure from work.

Hall says she started playing online, then in home games and at bars in 2003. Eventually, she found LIPS women-only events. From there, she began playing in open events with men. Hall describes that transition as a learning curve.

“There is a level of intimidation for women to sit down in poker rooms at casinos with men if they haven’t had experience with that,” Hall stated.

“I can understand why women are new to poker feel intimidated to start playing against men in casinos because I was that woman.”

In 2008, she left the corporate world to play poker full-time. However, she would return to her management career while traveling to play poker on the WSOP circuit shortly thereafter. She says that in 2015 she really came to terms with the success that she was enjoying.

“I think when I was in Las Vegas, I was playing during WSOP at Binion’s and I won a ladies-only event and then the next day I won against the men,” Hall commented.

“I’ve had two occasions when that’s happened back-to-back. I felt that when I had that happen at Binion’s it kind of clicked that, yeah, I can do this.”

While she was racking up those wins, though, an old opponent dared to challenge her again.

Breast cancer returns and health issues intensify

In 2016, she received another stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis. This time, she underwent a single mastectomy. As she was recovering from that surgery, her physicians discovered a brain tumor in 2018. Since then, she has also been diagnosed with Ménière’s Disease.

Ménière’s Disease is a disorder of the inner ear. It can result in many symptoms such as extreme fatigue, nausea, tinnitus, and vision problems. For Hall, it’s resulted in the loss of hearing in her right ear and spontaneous bouts of violent vertigo.

With support, though, Hall is ruthless in the face of her health issues.

“The support system I had of family and friends who helped me after my single mastectomy are the same ones who are currently supporting me with the Ménière’s Disease,” Hall elaborated.

“I had a vertigo attack happen at the WSOP last year during the Monster event. I had to leave a huge chip stack and have medics help me get to the restroom. Luckily, two of my best friends came to my rescue.”

“It’s really hard to beat a person who never gives up. They have really helped me get through the rough times. The WSOP was very kind about helping me as well. You know, that which does not kill you makes you stronger.”

Hall is still thriving at the poker table despite her physical limitations. She has also taken it upon herself to help other women deal with the feelings of intimidation she felt getting into the game.

Hall helps create WPA

In 2018, Hall became a founding board member of the Women’s Poker Association. The WPA’s mission is to “promote, develop, and professionalize the advancement of women in poker by heightening the exposure of current women poker players while encouraging and developing new women players.”

While Hall credits Lupe Soto as the founder of the WPA, she served for three years on the board and currently moderates the organization’s social media. She also serves as an advocate and offers her services as a personal coach to women who are new to the game.

“Our mission is something which I am very passionate about which is to educate, elevate, and empower women in poker,” Hall continued.

“I’d like to leave this world thinking I’ve helped other women.”

Furthermore, Hall has been running the Ladies Las Vegas Summer Camp for nearly a decade. That was simply a matter of using her resources to fill a need.

“It seemed like during the WSOP, they had so many events with all the different series happening on top of each other,” Hall added.

“To find where the ladies were congregating for a ladies-only event could be very frustrating. I began going through different websites so I could put together a chart for every year where the women could go to play.”

“All these casinos are hosting different series and would plant one ladies’ event in them so I would just make a chart of the dates, the times, the chip counts, and the blinds so women could have easy access to it.”

“It’s been kind of our little guide for women even if they want to ask about where I go to get my nails done. It’s all about making women feel comfortable to ask questions.”

As she leads WSOP Ladies into another decade in the game, Hall is optimistic about the direction she perceives.

Hall’s perspective on the evolution and future of poker

From when she started playing in 2003 to now, Hall has stuck by playing in live poker tournaments. She says she only plays online poker socially. She has card rooms near her home in Austin you can often find her playing in when she feels good. Her vast experience has given her some authority to speak on how the game has evolved in her time.

“The game has changed,” Hall shared.

“There is more strategic thinking like watching betting patterns and positions, learning game theory, studying push fold charts, maybe having online instructors or a personal coach. I think the number of hours you put into poker can also make a difference.”

Hall sees the future as bright for women in the game.

“Now I see more young pros like Kyna England and Irene Carey are grinding and winning in open events,” Hall added.

“I think you’ll see more of that as poker keeps evolving into a game of skill versus a game of chance because women are very intuitive at the poker table.”

Despite her role as a mentor for women new to the game and her challenges with her health, Hall is still more likely to try to take chips from Carey, England, and others than to even talk about passing any torches to a new generation.

“Poker has been my passion and it became my job in 2008,” Hall explained.

“It’s my job again since COVID as I’ve been disabled. I’ve always given it my all. My motto has been that life is a game. I’m not going to let anything slow me down.”

While Ruth is adding your chips to her stack, you might not have the foggiest idea of what she’s dealt with merely to occupy that seat and how hard she has worked to make sure other women can take those seats as well. In truth, though, it wouldn’t matter. Hall is Ruthless.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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