For most young women attending college on campus, poker lessons might be at the bottom of their to-do lists. Acclimating to leaving the nest, balancing a full class load, and being an active participant in an ever-blossoming social life is enough to make a new college student’s head spin. But for Nina Kuhn, a busy business major at Tulane University and a Poker Power collegiate ambassador, she found poker to be an essential addition to her schedule.
From an early age, Kuhn was naturally drawn to organizations that supported female empowerment and actively led both business-focused and volunteer-oriented extracurriculars in high school. When she made the transition to college, she found that learning how to be more confident and finding a common ground with her male cohorts was more important than ever.
Overall, Tulane boasts a 60% female student base, but in Kuhn’s business school, she saw that female representation was the minority. As she progressed in her studies, she saw that gap only increase. “The further you go in your studies, the more obvious it is, and the more frustrating it is,” says Kuhn.
After recognizing the gap, she saw poker as her answer. Understanding the strategic benefit her classmates would gain, she invited her female friends to participate in Poker Power’s community poker lessons.
How it started
“I won’t lie. I had beginner’s luck the first time I played with a group of 20 female students,” Kuhn giggles as she recalls her first lesson. “I was winning by the time I had finished my 30-minute lesson and thought, ‘I totally have the hang of this!’ Even though in reality, I barely knew anything.”
Soon Kuhn was hooked and used poker as not only a vehicle for learning but also for maintaining a regular social life after the onset of COVID-19. Hosting small poker clubs kept her engaged with friends while she began developing strategies of her own.
The difference between playing the community games online and in-person was significant. Kuhn and her friends started applying the principles of negotiation, pragmatic decision-making, risk assessment, and how to be more confident, which they had learned during their lessons. Emotional intelligence was key, as Kuhn began studying everyone’s mannerisms.
Supporting female empowerment
After learning the basic poker terminology, poker hand rankings, and principal strategies, Kuhn began bringing poker to class. During group discussions and projects, poker became the great leveler — the bridge Kuhn never knew she needed to cross.
“The very idea I can talk poker with the guys that I’ll be in class with helps out. Just today, I was in a Strategic Consulting class, and one of the guys who is part of my group project had heard about Poker Power,” says Kuhn. “I loved that I was actually explaining to him hand rankings and terminology.” Poker taught Kuhn how to be more confident when it came to initiating the dialogue which can sometimes be the most difficult part.
The game allows her to fit into settings where she might not have otherwise felt comfortable, including guys’ poker nights. Poker has traditionally been gatekept by men, especially on campus. For Kuhn, poker is an icebreaker. It’s also a club that she’s excited to be a part of and one that she can share with her friends, both male and female.
Applying poker to real life
Through her involvement with Poker Power, Kuhn has learned how much of the game teaches everyday life skills that can be applied in a myriad of circumstances. From how to be more confident when negotiating prices on large purchases like vehicles to exuding female confidence while interviewing, she sees just how relevant poker has become in her day-to-day life.
“Poker teaches you to take the position that you were given and make the most of it in your personal life, in your work life, and anywhere in between,” she says.
A friend of Kuhn’s recently started a new job in a male-dominated field after graduation and shared with her that within two days of joining corporate America, she immediately regretted not joining Kuhn’s poker lessons. “It’s really such an empowering game. Once you learn poker, you’re in on it, and you want to share it with more people,” she says.
Poker has also shown Kuhn the consequences of impulsivity. She uses it as the catalyst for anticipating her next move. “Aside from looking at the big picture, [poker] has also helped me recognize what cards you’re dealt at that moment in life, and what the best path is using those cards,” Kuhn says. “There are multiple paths you can take and realizing how you can put yourself in a more advantageous position has been a big part of it.”
Kuhn’s excitement for business has been energized by poker. “I don’t think anything really clicked for me as a passion project until I found poker,” she says. ” [I wanted to find] a group of women so we could learn together, and we could have new members every semester.”
With plans to continue sharing her passion for female empowerment and continuing to develop her own confidence through poker, Kuhn’s journey has only just begun.
Ready to boost your confidence while networking with today’s most powerful women? Sign up for our free online poker classes, and unlock your power with poker now!