Week 182 – #PokerPower


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Jenny Just is renowned as one of the world’s finest minds in math and trading, with her most notable achievement being the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at PEAK6 Investments. That said, Jenny has a new start-up called Poker Power, that she describes as a company “led by women for women with the goal of teaching one million women how to play the game of poker and the game of life.” Poker Power utilizes gameplay, both in person and online through virtual lessons and the Poker Power Play app, to help girls and women ranging from students to CEOs stack their skills and accelerate success through a global network of corporate leadership development workshops and lessons. By empowering women with key skills, Poker Power is changing the future for generations to come. Poker Power was founded by Jenny and is now led by President Erin Lydon and a team of 25 poker experts and operational staff. To date, Poker Power has introduced 30K+ women and girls to the game of poker, spans 40 countries, and has partnered with more than 200 corporations and educational institutions.

Thought you would enjoy learning about the power of poker, and reading our exclusive Q&A with Jenny, below.

AJR: What inspired you to start Poker Power?

JJ: First, let’s talk about the problem. The reality is that Poker trains you in crucial life, business and money skills, but less than 7% of the 120 million poker players are women. And even if men and boys are only playing for fun, they are benefiting from this game while women and girls are not.

As a trader I’d been around poker most of my career, but I didn’t start paying attention until I taught my daughter how to play. One day, frustrated after her tennis match, my husband suggested my daughter learn to play poker. When he suggested it, I wondered why suggesting that a 14-year-old girl should learn to play sounded so strange… especially because our three older sons all knew how to play. Intrigued, I started an experiment, gathering my daughter’s friends and moms for poker lessons. The transformation was remarkable – lesson one the girls were timid, but by lesson four the girls were competitive and confident. Witnessing the positive impact on girls and women, I couldn’t ignore the potential. 

Fast forward to today and Poker Power has worked with over 200 organizations across 40 countries teaching both virtually and in person and we’re on a mission to teach 1M women or those who identify to learn this game and learn how to play life differently.

AJR: What impact can Poker Power have on women? On underprivileged communities?

JJ: Poker Power can significantly impact women by empowering them with confidence, and the best part is that it’s low-cost and accessible. While it requires time and dedication, the results are worth it. The game of poker provides a platform for women to practice valuable skills that bridge the gap between where they are and where they aspire to be. Countless stories reinforce the game’s transformative potential, but the work Poker Power is doing with the Global Give Back Circle with young women in East Kenya stands out where Poker Power is being used as the leadership development curriculum within Global Give Back Circle’s border mentorship, education, and employment readiness program.

AJR: What do you mean when you say “you were playing poker and didn’t even know it” when working as an options trader/co-founding Peak6?

JJ: I’m referring to the fascinating parallel between poker and business dynamics. Poker imparts essential skills like capital allocation, strategic thinking, and risk management, but it also provides a framework for understanding how money and power dynamics flow. I quickly realized that my interactions at the poker table very much resembled those I had in the boardroom, at the negotiating table, and in other professional settings. I always say, one of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t learn poker sooner. If I had, I would have saved myself a lot of time, money and heartache. What makes it even more intriguing is that when colleagues play together, a unique common language emerges. This shared experience has proven invaluable in understanding inclinations, risk appetites, and decision-making processes within our teams at PEAK6. 

AJR: If there is one thing poker might have taught you that you didn’t intuit organically, what would it be?

JJ: The poker table serves as a great equalizer. It’s a place where women at all levels  — from intern to CEO — can come together, learn something and feel comfortable. Because a lot of women have not played the game before, they’re all starting from zero no matter their seniority. There’s something comforting in that for the more junior women which allows for creating organic, fun, networking moments. We also see a lot of reverse mentoring take place at the poker table, where the more junior woman also has the opportunity to teach something to a more senior one. I’ve seen women raise money, architect partnerships and make all kinds of other impactful connections at the poker table.

AJR: Best way to learn the game?

JJ: We’ve found that gameplay, either on our Poker Power Play app or at live tables, is the most effective way to learn, as each hand presents an opportunity to practice taking risks. Once women play, they get it! And they want to come back for more. Most women never forget the feeling of winning their first “all-in” pot of chips. That feeling of adrenaline and confidence is what Poker Power replicates for our community across all of our programs around the globe every day.

You can download the Poker Power Play app here

Learn more about Poker Power at https://pokerpower.com/.

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There will be no end to the curveballs that life throws. As soon as you feel comfortable, another setback or new challenge will arise. Alyssa Rapp is driven to help people like her—the doers, those who keep swinging—seek to succeed in both life and career. Every challenge is an opportunity, are you making the most of yours?

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