Poker Powher Managing Director Erin Lydon: “Those Are Life Skills that Apply to Every Table”

Poker Powher is an organization that has a simple goal: teach one million women “confidence, strategy, and decision-making through the game of poker.” It is a good plan and a particularly auspicious one at a time when more poker platforms are reaching out to their female audiences and looking to introduce more women to the game.

PokerStars, the company Poker Powher is teaming up for an upcoming tournament on March 27, has recently launched several initiatives in this vein. With the registration for Poker Powher closing in on March 25, there is still time for female poker players to register and join the No Limits poker event this weekend.

Today with us, we have Poker Powher Managing Director, Erin Lydon, who can explain in detail what Poker Powher stands for and why the upcoming event is an opportunity to achieve the project’s stated goals.

Q: Poker Powher’s upcoming tournament is hosted in collaboration with several champions of more female involvement in the game. Can you tell us a little more about yourself and the upcoming event?

Poker Powher is a movement by and for women. Our goal is to teach one million women how to play the game and its transferable lessons that can apply to school, work, and life. We help women utilize gameplay to stack their skills and build confidence, challenge the status quo, and practice risk assessment and strategy in an inclusive, supportive environment. We do not gamble in our clubs and no money transacts. We are playing for a pot of skills far more valuable.

Like many women, for a long time, I also shared the same negative stereotypes about this game. And I was surrounded by men who played but never invited me to take a seat. In fact, if you don’t learn to play as a child or in university, you likely won’t think about poker again, and definitely not as a solution to accelerating your career and creating a pathway to success. Poker Powher changes that.

On March 27th, we are thrilled to partner with World College Poker to host this free-to-play global women’s online poker tournament powered by PokerStars.net! The event is open to all women across the globe over the age of 18. The top nine players will advance to the final table to compete for fantastic prizes that same day, some of which include an one-on-one lesson with poker legend Jonathan Little, a vacation package to Cancun, and a ladies-only poker night with Poker Powher’s pros.

Q: Why should women play more poker and, as you say, spend their time studying the game better?

Poker is a game-changer for learning how to make better decisions, especially with imperfect information. We know there is a strong connection between women’s success, money ownership, and the game of poker, and we have seen it firsthand, watching our students learn and grow through the game.

Going all-in at the poker table gives you more confidence to ask for a promotion. Raising the stakes helps you negotiate better. Our students also learn to improve their concentration, resilience, computation, and probability skills at the poker table. Though these skills are essential for getting ahead in business and in life, they’re not taught to women through mentorship, or in traditional educational settings. That is why we are fierce advocates for teaching and practicing these skills at the poker table. 

Q: We have long admiredMaria Konnikovafor her unique insight into the human psyche and what she brings to the poker table. Yet, we feel Poker Powher is not about women proving themselves to men or vice versa. Do you see more players become as successful as Konnikova both in poker and in life, as a result of studying the game?

Yes, poker is all about skill. But practicing the game repeatedly has helped women in our community develop more confidence and hone their emotional intelligence and observation skills. Even aspects of the game that many people attribute to confidence—our ability to take a risk and be comfortable with an unknown outcome, for example—can be taught. We are big fans of Maria! Her experience at the poker table serves as an inspiration for all women curious about this game.

Q: Why should players register for the No Limits events hosted by Poker Powher this weekend?

100 million people around the world play poker, and less than 10 percent are women. Let that sink in. Through this event, we have the power to change that and to take the first step to creating a world where 50% of the players are female! Talk about a game-changer!

Many women are hesitant to get involved in poker because of long standing negative connotations, which include a sexist culture. And this culture has created a self-perpetuating cycle where women and girls don’t have role models in poker, and by extension, the gap never closes. This tournament will allow women to see themselves at the table, take their seat, and come together as a community celebrating fearless females during Women’s History Month. Any level of player is invited to join us from beginner to advanced. As I always say, “I saved you a seat! Don’t turn me down.”

Q: How would determine the success of the upcoming event?

If everyone who attends the tournament leaves with a desire to keep learning and practicing what I think is the world’s greatest card game, it will be a success. And of course, we want the most women ever playing together in a single online tournament to take their seat with us–we set a big goals at Poker Powher!

Q: Why stop at one million women? Do you plan on extending the program further upon reaching this milestone?

Of course! Once we get to one million, we know five, ten, one hundred million is next. I wasn’t kidding about that 50% figure. There are no limits to what women can achieve when empowered with the game of skill and strategy. 

Q: What are the skills that poker cannot teach men and women after all? Are there such skills to begin with?

If there is an essential life skill that poker cannot teach, I am hard-pressed to find it! Personally, the response I get when I tell people I lead a poker company, especially men, is quite fascinating from a power perspective. First, they assume I’m a kickass player (I may or may not be bluffing!) and second there is a certain cache associated with this game that adds credibility to me as a negotiator, strategist and leader. Those are life skills that apply to every table–be it in the card room, the classroom or the board room.

Q: What would be next following this weekend’s tournament?

At Poker Powher, we are scaling quickly! Each month, we offer free virtual classes from beginner to advanced that are open to women world-wide. We also offer corporate and university workshops where we customize curriculum offerings to each audience. Members of our community play in daily tournaments with us–never to win a pot of money—but to take home skills far more valuable. You can join our movement by visiting pokerpowher dot com.

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