Thursday 23rd March, 2023

Poker Power Aims to Empower Women Through Poker at the Malta Poker Festival

By Jason Glatzer


The MPF will kick off a hotbed of poker activity on the majestic island of Malta at Portomaso Casino on April 24 to May 1, including an opportunity for women that desire to play poker or want to improve their poker skills, as Poker Power make their way to the Malta Poker Festival (MPF) next month.


Players are coming from far and near thanks to the MPF providing a unique poker holiday combining both amazing poker tournaments and cash games highlighted by the €300,000 guaranteed MPF €550 Grand Event along with plenty of activities and holiday experiences.


Meanwhile, women from all corners of the globe are heading to Malta for the Ladies First! taking place on April 29 at 4 p.m. Women’s Poker Association (WPA) Advocate Chris Read, who traveled from the United States to play at the MPF, won the event last year after agreeing to a heads-up deal with MPF Founder Ivonne Montealegre. Main Event Travel already interviewed Read about her involvement with the WPA, her excitement about the Ladies First! event, and more.


The great thing about this event is not only for experienced and well-accomplished ladies like Read but also players can feel comfortable joining the action even if they haven’t ever played a live poker tournament thanks to Poker Power Director of Education and Technology AJ Rudolph hosting a crash course for beginners.


Rudolph (pictured above) has been playing poker for more than two decades primarily in a home game in Chicago that kicked off after college with her husband and some friends that still goes on to this day. She also has an extensive background in technology working on apps and websites making her a great fit for Poker Power.


Players can attend the interactive training seminar for free simply by preregistering for the Ladies First! and by filling out this form.


Buy-in now for Ladies First! via MainEventTravel.com.


Main Event Travel sat down with Rudolph to learn more about Poker Power and its involvement with the MPF.


Poker Power Created After Founder Jenny Just


Jenny Just is just one of a handful of self-made billionaires in the United States and is not only the co-founder of Poker Power but also a co-founder of a massive financial services firm Peak6.


Rudolph explained to us that Poker Power originated with Just trying to teach her daughter to be more competitive in tennis.


“Poker Power started about three years ago, just before the pandemic,” began Rudolph. “It was an idea that came out of our parent company, and our founder, Jenny Just, where she was trying to teach her daughter to be more competitive at a tennis match. Her husband was like: ‘Well, we should teach her poker.”


Just and her husband thought things over and said that this wouldn’t really be a question if they had a son instead of a daughter. The gender disparity is something the entire poker community notices and Just decided to power through this by getting together a group with her daughter and her friends. Classes took place not only with the younger generation but also with some of the mothers who decided to get involved as well.”


Poker Power was then born with the initiative of teaching one million women to play poker which would also lead them to compete and succeed in business, finance, and life.


Pandemic Moves Poker Power Online


Just about everyone across the world was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with restrictions on how we were used to living our lives suddenly changed. Many organizations suffered while others such as Poker Power were able to pivot their initiatives to find success by taking a different path than originally planned.


Rudolph shared how Poker Power adapted to the new reality and how this led to expansion beyond the United States where Poker Power was originally focused.


“The pandemic hit shortly after we launched Poker Power,” Rudolph shared. “We were like: ‘Oh, wait, we were doing this with chips and cards, what are we supposed to do now.’ So, we pivoted quickly online, like everybody did, of course, and decided to host sessions over Zoom. At first, we were using a third-party poker app. However, we decided to build our own with teaching tools and more for our community, because there weren't a lot of gender-neutral ones out there. This allowed us to expand internationally, which we wouldn't have been able to do, just by being in the US and having to be physically in a location. So, we expanded pretty quickly and started working with some bigger companies that had people all over the place. They wanted to serve their employees that were in the US, but also in Asia and Europe. We were able to do that by teaching our virtual curriculum to their different groups. We have teachers all over the US, that that work for us, which allowed us to work with a bunch of different time zones. Our curriculum includes up to 12 lessons, but we could do one-off workshops as well for people. We focus each one on a particular life skill, and how poker can get you there.”


Rudolph Began With Poker Power for Fun


Rudolph began with Poker Power in its early days as a part-time fun side job before it developed into a full-time role thanks to the growth of the organization.

I met a woman named Sarah Stefan and she was Googled by the people putting together Poker Power, who was trying to find a female poker teacher,” Rudolph explained. “This is really hard to find as there's not a lot out there, especially at that time. They were looking for somebody in Chicago and she came up because she's a Chicago public school teacher. She was the first one that they hired and then she said: ‘Hey, this might be a thing. AJ, can you hop on board?’ Shortly after, I became one of the earliest employees as well, with Poker Power, and I was like, ‘Oh, how fun. I'll just, you know, do this on the side, while I'm doing my other job, and I'll go teach some high schoolers how to play poker, how fun is that?’ Poker Power started to grow and grow during the pandemic and in the middle of 2020, they asked me to join full-time. I said: ‘Okay, sounds good. Let's, let's do this and make this a real thing.’. Our growth continued and we were working with so many different companies to accidentally become its own business. Now, our focus really is trying to work with different companies, because that's been our sweet spot where companies are looking for something for their women's groups and their diversity inclusion groups to do that is skill building. But it's also fun and there are so many statistics around the gamification of learning, and how you learn quicker that way.


How Poker Power Got Involved With the Malta Poker Festival


MPF Founder Ivonne Montealegre has always been about inclusiveness and about empowering women through poker. She was in Las Vegas at the end of last year to play in the WPT Championships where she met Rudolph and the two were equally impressed with each other.


Montealegre suggested that Poker Power come to the Malta Poker Festival for a rare trip to Europe to host one of their interactive poker skill-building lessons. Poker Power was quickly on board after that and Rudolph described what players can expect from their workshop.


“We will be hosting our normal in-person poker one-on-one workshop and gameplay,” Rudolph shared. “It is targeted at beginners. So, women who have never played before, because that's usually who comes to us. We go through the basics of everything, the rules of how to play. But we actually have found that some recreational players really benefit from our workshop as well, because we do discuss some strategies. We also teach a pretty aggressive gameplay strategy, because an aggressive gameplay strategy is a winning strategy. Therefore, some people who are not beginners can actually benefit from this as well. We're encouraging anyone who's playing the Ladies First! tournament, to come and join us for the workshop. It's a lot of fun and I will do about a 30-minute interactive presentation. Then we actually play at the tables because that's how you learn you have to actually play and get into it. There are a lot of intricacies to live poker. like don't fold out of turn, which is different from online poker where you can pre-fold. That's really important to make sure that you don't make a mistake. I also talk about some mistakes I made playing and how easy it is to do. So, it's really important to do these little things to make the game go smoother and teach women things they would not know if they have never played live before. We have a lot of women in our community who have just learned with us online, and taking that leap into playing live poker is scary because it's a whole different environment and you don't know what to expect. But once they do it, that's when we get this feedback of oh my gosh, that was so cool. And they really ended up loving it. So that's good to hear.”


Rudolph (pictured) is also personally excited about heading to Malta for the first time for the MPF.


“I have never been to Malta before,” Rudolph said. “I love seeing this world and there are so many places in the world that I have not been. I'm not a traveler that goes back to the same place a lot of times. So, I'm really excited to have this opportunity to go see the beautiful island of Malta, I've heard great things about the Malta Poker Festival and want to experience the food and the culture while also, of course, playing a lot of poker.”


Head to Malta in Style with Main Event Travel

Main Event Travel has your back with a variety of exclusive, discounted VIP Packages at 5* Hilton Malta or 4* Cavalieri Art Hotel that include:

  • 5 or 6 night Bed & Breakfast at 4* or 5* hotel
  • Headline Grand Event Ticket
  • Drinks Package at Event Venue
  • Dinner Buffet at Event Venue
  • Nightclub access
  • Welcome Party
  • Concierge service and more!

We also have fantastic Hotel only offers including breakfast. These Special Offer rates are currently discounted by €20-€400, and all VIP Packages and Special Offer rooms come with free cancellation until April 10 if your plans change! Book now as these rates won’t be available for much longer!

2023 Malta Poker Festival Spring Edition Schedule can be found here, start planning today!

 Photo credit:  AJ Rudolph, Poker Power


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