Internet entrepreneur Heidi Messer started her females-only poker nights a couple of years ago, as a place where professional women could network and talk deals in a relaxed environment.
What began as a cozy weekly game inside her Manhattan loft soon morphed into one of the most elite poker nights around. Messer's poker game now attracts some of the top names in business, executive leadership, sports and entertainment. Most games now accommodate about 70 players, whittled down from 1,000-plus person waiting list.
"We're taking a page from men who have long used golf for pleasure and business, but moving from the greens to felt greens," the 45-year-old entrepreneur said. "I think anyone who is good at business has a natural knack for poker."
Poker is "just one of those games that translates beautifully. With poker, like business, you learn patience, how to make conversation and slowly learn about your opponent before going all in and taking risks," Messer said. "You think about what you want, how to accomplish that goal and carefully do what you need to do to get there. Poker helps you rein in emotions and think very clearly and strategically before taking action."
Men are allowed to participate—but only as dealers, or croupiers, to help guide and instruct any novices on the finer points of the game.