Could Playing Poker Help Women Earn More at Work?

Poker teaches women strategic risk-taking skills that can be applied to notoriously male-led industries, giving them the upper hand.
Last updated Nov 3, 2021 | By Ariel Gardner | Edited By Rebecca McCracken
Three young friends playing cards at cafe

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It’s unfortunate, but sadly true — historically, women have earned less than men in the workplace. Women are starting to pursue nontraditional forms of professional development — specifically playing poker — to help close the wage gap. It’s not surprising that women are adopting these skills and techniques to workplace scenarios that allow them to make more money.

The power of poker

Poker Power is a new service helping women in the financial services industry create the best jobs possible for themselves by building knowledge in risk assessment, negotiation, capital allocation, and more through playing Texas Hold ‘em on Zoom. (Don’t worry, real money isn’t exchanged). These skills can help women get ahead in the workplace, but aren't often taught in school.

Jenny Just, a long-time trader and co-founder of Chicago-based Peak6 Investments, created Poker Power in 2019 as a tangible way for women to achieve money-management roles, which tend to be highly lucrative roles.

Poker Power is 100% female-led, from its advisory board to its instructors. The goal is to get away from the motivational "lean in" jargon, instead giving women a “safe place to fail, and practice failing, and then getting back up and trying again,” Just told Bloomberg in a recent interview.

Closing the industry gap

Women are far underrepresented in the financial services industry, a concern Just experienced firsthand at her investment firm, where only 35% of women are traders. Global stats are much lower, as only 14% of the world’s money managers are women, according to Morningstar Inc.

Solid data support concerns about the lack of women in the finance sector:

  • BoardEx reported this year that women only hold 11% of C-Suite roles in financial services.
  • According to Morningstar, women only fill 19.4% of senior executive roles for companies in the broader Russel 3000 index, where they’re also outnumbered by men 17:1.
  • Payscale reports that even though women make up 53% of the finance workforce, they have the largest uncontrolled wage gap at 76 cents to every dollar a man makes.

The Poker Power Program has gained traction, with almost 4,000 women playing in 20 different countries, including the U.S., Singapore, and Taiwan. One workshop for female MBA students at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business saw demand double for the available 100 spots.

Get the upper hand

You can learn more about Poker Power through their website, where you can sign up to start playing for free. You can also pay $55 an hour for private lessons with one of Poker Power’s teachers.

Poker Power sees most of its users coming from paying corporate clients, like Visa, Stripe, and Morningstar. However, they also offer lessons and clubs designed for high school students.

Applying the strategies you learn playing poker isn’t the only way for women to empower themselves financially. Check out these 6 money moves women can make to grow their wealth.

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Author Details

Ariel Gardner Ariel is a St. Louis-based personal finance writer who specializes in side hustles, paying down debt, and saving/budgeting. Her work for clients has been seen in Forbes and CNBC. When she's not working, Ariel enjoys knitting while watching bad TV, podcasts, hiking, or vacationing with her family.