How Poker Can Help You Run Your Business Better
Business owners, coaches and keynote speakers the world over often speak of the games and activities that helped them improve their business acumen and as a result, their chances of success. From chess to the classic board game Risk, there are dozens of ways that you can empower your business mind during your spare time. But perhaps one of the most surprising games on that list is poker.
Now, if you’ve ever played the game, you’ll understand why specific successful businesspeople are often good players. But if you’re unfamiliar with poker, then this might be coming at you right out of left field. After all, poker is that game you play with your buddies in the kitchen or in a smoky casino, right?
That’s not necessarily true.
The Poker/Business Crossover
In recent years, the poker industry has seen massive growth as it becomes a more mainstream gaming option. The availability of a variety of online poker platforms is, of course, a significant factor in this growth.
This rapid growth and the high-profile nature of live events such as the World Series of Poker has led some industries to source talent from within the ranks of professional poker players.
Just last month, the world’s biggest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates hired Vanessa Selbst, the world’s most successful female poker player. And this is by no means new for the financial sector. In the last decade or so, there have been quite a few players that have made the leap from professional poker to full-time trading. Not only that but a number of Wall Street traders are also quite successful in playing in pro tournaments.
So, what is it that makes a poker player a safe bet as a business owner or advisor?
To be successful in business, you need to be consistent over a prolonged period. The same can also be said of poker players who learn quickly that to be a winner; you need to create a winning strategy.
Poker players are strategic in their thinking, and not just when it comes down to the game itself, but also how they approach it. They plan, study their opponents and then decide what best strategy to employ to achieve the most gains.
Sound familiar? Of course, it does. As business owners and entrepreneurs, creating strategies and sticking to them over time is not just good business sense, it’s second nature (to the successful among us at least.)
Do you find that you’re making more than your share of mistakes lately? Then it could be time to sit down and play a few hands of poker. There’s nothing like seeing your chips on the table to encourage you to stick to a strategy.
Of course, this ties in closely with strategic thinking and is, without a doubt, one of the best skills we can take from the poker table.
Many of us are quick to assume that poker is a game of chance, but unlike the many other casino games that anyone can win with a bit of luck, poker takes both skill and intuition. Sounds a little like running a business, wouldn’t you say?
Knowing when to rely on your gut feeling and when to follow the data is essential in the world of business and to start-ups. And making this decision is a skill that the best poker players pick up quickly.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s a learnable skill and not something that only a few of us are “born with.” And playing poker is one of the best ways to hone this most desirable business skill.
Your competitor just upped the ante by taking a massive step toward dominating your marketplace. What do you do? Do you hang on for dear life and weather the storm? Or do you act, changing your strategy that all the best advisors warned you to stick to?
These are the unexpected scenarios that poker players are faced with on a regular basis. How they react to such circumstances is the real measure of a successful player. Skilled poker players will learn to control their emotions (and not just to hide their tells) and decide based on their knowledge of the game.
Having studied the game intensively, they will be aware of the potential outcomes of any action they take. And therefore, their reaction to unexpected situations is most often the right one, even if it means folding and walking away from the table.
Setting Goals and Limits
When we open a business, we often have unrealistic targets in mind. We’ve all had those dreams of a house in the Bahamas or a Ferrari in the driveway; we’re only human after all. However, setting realistic and attainable goals is a critical part of a business plan, and we should never forget it.
So, how does poker help us? Surely, a poker player wants to win as much as possible, right? Yes, that is true, but for real poker players, it’s not about winning one big hand and walking home with a million dollars (although that would be nice). Poker players play a long strategic game that involves making slow and steady progress.
They set goals for themselves and play within specific limits, keeping their losses to a minimum. Business owners can apply this thinking to their investment in the growth of their business. Knowing when to stop throwing money at something can be the difference between success and financial ruin.
Play some poker, set limits and practice playing within the confines of those limitations. In the long run, you’ll likely make more gains than you would have by betting it all on one big hand.
So, are we suggesting that you break out the cards, buy a felt card table and start a regular poker night with your entrepreneurial friends? Well, not quite, but we like the idea.
However, if you truly want to take something from your foray into the world of poker, it’s best to take it seriously. Play for real money against opponents.
Visit a local poker club, take a trip to the casino or better still, try playing online. Just keep in mind that while you are taking this seriously, you should never bet more than you can afford to lose. Stick to those limits, just like the pros do. And remember, this is about learning new skills that you can transfer into your home business, so pay attention and take notes. But perhaps not at the table.
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