Pioneering Women in Poker: Terry King by Patricia Chavira

Terry King

Photo of Terry King from “Poker For Women” by Mike Caro


My husband Robert Turner has been playing poker for over fifty years and has met many characters of the game. He directed me to his friend Madison Kopp’s post on Facebook about poker player Terry King. Robert also spoke of Terry in such high regard that it inspired me to write this article.


Terry King is one of the trailblazing women in poker. This is her story told in her own words.

Terry says, “I got to Vegas in 1972, right after graduation from high school. My friend played poker, and I sat behind her watching at least ten times before I got the nerve to play.”

Terry continues, “My friend Natalie and her husband really helped me learn how to play better, and in 1978 I won the WSOP Ladies’ event. I was also was one of the first women to deal the $10,000 Main Event.”

Tales of the Legends of Poker

Chip and Stu

Photos of Chip Reese and Stu Ungar Courtesy of


Terry crossed paths with poker legend David “Chip” Reese, an event which changed her life forever.

Terry explains, “In 1979, Chip Reese asked me to play in the mixed doubles event. Not long after that, Chip took over the poker room at the Dunes and asked me to play for him to keep games going. Our first date was going to Lake Tahoe to play blackjack.”

“Stuey Ungar owed some rather unsavory people $70,000, and Chip couldn’t play in Vegas, so we helped him get his money back in Reno and Tahoe.”

The couple were together five years and engaged the last year, but they split amicably, and Terry eventually moved to California and went to work at the Bicycle Club. She also helped open Hollywood Park Casino and was a shift manager for 5 years.

Phyllis Yazbek, one of the most respected female executives in the casino industry says of Terry, “Many years ago Terry and my paths first crossed at the 1978 Ladies WSOP Stud tournament final table where she claimed first place and the bracelet. I was just one of the victims of her poker-playing prowess.”

Robert Turner adds, “Terry has played poker at the highest limits, managed the largest card clubs in the world and dedicated her life to poker. She’s a perfect candidate for the Poker Hall of Fame.”

With the World Series of Poker kicking off in Las Vegas in a month, what a fitting time to shine the spotlight on one of the pioneering women in poker.

Visit Madison Kopp’s blog at

Patricia Chavira is a freelance writer and social media consultant specializing in poker. She writes a column called the “Poker Scene” for Gaming Today. Follow her on Twitter @pinkchippoker.



9 thoughts on “Pioneering Women in Poker: Terry King by Patricia Chavira

  1. I met terry in 1972 the yr. she came to vegas. A beauutiful lady and talented poker player. She would be an excellant addition to rhe hall of fame. Mike picow

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I started playing in the Dunes Poker Room in 1972, and the most beautiful young woman started playing there around the same time.

    I played a few thousand hours of $1-$3 7 card stud with her (nickel ante!), and we became good friends, and have stayed friends all these years (one of my only Las Vegas friends I have stayed in close contact with).

    Back then, you could count the number of women who played poker for a living in Las Vegas on one hand. “Pioneer” is certainly the right word for Terry, and I also doubt there is anyone who ever crossed paths with her who has the slightest negative comment to make, and in the poker world, that is harder to find than flopping a Royal Flush in hold-em!


    • So absolutely true Bruce. Terry not only was the class of the poker field, she remained and has always been a woman; as well as best friend; of class to this day. Her poker knowledge and prowess is extensive. Terry most definitely should be in Poker Hall of Fame. Things were much different then so was even more difficult to remain above the fray as Terry always did.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s