About 40 women (and a few men) are gathered in midtown Manhattan to nosh, network and practice their poker face—not the Lady Gaga song, the Texas Hold ’em version.
“Learning how to play poker helps women enhance their business and life skills,” says Ellen Leikind, a former corporate executive and founder of POKER-prima-DIVAS. An avid player, Leikind recognized the skills needed to play poker—reading body language, assessing risk, dealing with the hand you’re dealt, knowing when to hold and when to fold, betting and bluffing wisely, to name a few—mirror skills needed to succeed in business.
Since Leikind launched POKER-prima-DIVAS in 2005, she’s taught the game—and the skills that go with it—to nearly 10,000 women and put on team-building events at Fortune 500 companies as well as financial and law firms. The company also organizes fundraisers with charitable organizations.
“Poker is the new golf,” Leikind says, “and women need to get into the game and take their rightful seats at the table.”
Stephanie Abrams, co-founder of social media and marketing firm Socialfly, says playing poker helped her rein in her emotions in business scenarios. “I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve,” she says. “Now I definitely have a better poker face.”
Trust and estate-planning lawyer Tracy Landauer says poker has changed her view of risk and reward. “I’m definitely less risk-averse now,” she says. Her newfound comfort level paid off. She won first place in the night’s tournament.