After 14 years of attending meetings as a banker, Stephen Kelly got tired of the same old routine. After a long day of meetings, there was never anything to do at night. So, in 2003, he decided to start his own company to change that.

Based in Atlanta, Kelly's U.S. Poker Series (www.uspokerseries.com) runs poker tournaments for groups of all sizes, for about half the cost of a golf tournament. Playing with chips, not money, contestants compete in a roughly three-hour, round-robin format. The final eight win prizes and a plaque, and the winner gets an engraved poker set. The company also has beginner tables with expert instructors.

The business has taken off, says Kelly, with 36 corporate events already scheduled this year. “It's a great networking event, it's fun, it's social, and people really get charged up,” he says. “It's hard to explain the electricity behind the event until you attend one.”