The Power of Poker: Challenging Stereotypes and Building Confidence

25 December 2023

Abby Merk, a young poker player, shares her journey of overcoming stereotypes and using the game to empower herself and other women.

In a world often dominated by men, Abby Merk, a 23-year-old poker player, instructor, and content creator, has found her voice and confidence through the game of poker. Initially believing it was a game of luck, Abby soon discovered that poker is a game of skill, strategy, and critical thinking. In this as-told-to essay, Abby shares her experiences of breaking stereotypes, challenging the status quo, and using poker as a tool to empower women in various industries.

From Luck to Skill: The Transformation of a Poker Player

Abby recalls her early days as a poker player, where she believed luck played a significant role. However, as she delved deeper into the game, she realized that success in poker is based on making mathematically correct decisions. Abby’s initial losses were not due to bad luck but rather her own incorrect decision-making. This realization sparked her passion for the game and motivated her to study and improve her skills.

Thinking Analytically: The Intersection of Philosophy and Poker

With a background in philosophy and mathematics, Abby found a natural connection between her academic pursuits and poker. She discovered that poker required analytical and critical thinking skills, similar to how philosophy encouraged her to think about the world. By combining her understanding of human behavior and mathematical analysis, Abby was able to make informed decisions at the poker table.

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The Competitive Nature and Financial Incentive of Poker

Abby’s love for poker extends beyond the intellectual challenge. She thrives on the competitive nature of playing with others and the opportunity to earn money doing something she enjoys. Whether playing at a $20 table or participating in high-stakes tournaments, Abby finds the same level of excitement and engagement. The skills she has honed in poker are transferable to various aspects of life, making it a valuable pursuit regardless of monetary gains.

Mentorship and Empowerment: Poker Power

Abby’s journey in poker was greatly influenced by Jenny Just, the founder of Poker Power. As one of the first students of Poker Power, Abby received invaluable mentorship and guidance. Although the lessons were initially brief, Abby’s dedication and passion for the game allowed her to dive deeper into poker. Through Poker Power, Abby not only developed her own skills but also became a teacher, empowering other women in the game.

Overcoming Stereotypes and Building Confidence

As a female player, Abby faced stereotypes and biases at the poker table. She was expected to play conservatively and passively due to her gender. However, Abby refused to conform to these expectations. In a pivotal moment, she challenged the stereotypes by playing her own game and standing up for herself. Abby’s ability to separate bad decisions from bad outcomes became a turning point in her poker career, allowing her to play with confidence and assertiveness.

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From Student to Teacher: Sharing Knowledge and Empowering Others

Motivated by her own growth and success, Abby immersed herself in studying poker and consuming poker content. Her dedication paid off, and she became a Poker Power teacher, sharing her knowledge and experiences with other women. Through teaching, Abby aims to inspire women to take their seats at the table, defy expectations, and excel in a male-dominated environment.

Poker as a Tool for Empowerment in the Workplace

Abby believes that the mindset and skills developed in poker are applicable in any workplace, particularly in male-dominated industries like finance. By having the confidence to make their voices heard, women can challenge the status quo and strive for positions of power. Abby encourages women to continue pushing boundaries and rising above societal expectations, using poker as a powerful outlet for personal growth and empowerment.


Abby Merk’s journey in poker showcases the transformative power of the game. From initially perceiving it as a game of luck, she discovered the analytical and strategic nature of poker. Through her perseverance, Abby overcame stereotypes, challenged biases, and built confidence both at the poker table and in other aspects of life. By sharing her knowledge and empowering other women through Poker Power, Abby continues to inspire and pave the way for a more inclusive and diverse poker community.

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