If You’re an Entrepreneur, You Should Be Playing More Poker

It’s often said that many classic casino games can teach us a variety of important life lessons. The philosophy of which we are not going to be getting into right now. Instead, what we’ll by focusing on today is the relationship between entrepreneurship and poker.

Or should that be, why it is that every entrepreneur could potentially benefit by playing more poker.

While it may not be obvious on the surface, there are so many similarities between running a business and playing poker. That is, just as long as you take your poker sufficiently seriously. Anticipating moves, calling bluffs, knowing when to walk away and so on – all the kinds of things that hold huge significance in the business world. What’s more, some of the primary skills and even character traits you can develop by playing poker can be hugely beneficial in business.

Admittedly, entrepreneurship might not leave you with a great deal of time to dedicate to such frivolous pursuits as poker. Nevertheless, should you find yourself in need of a well-deserved break from time to time, we can think of at least six reasons why you might want to fill this time with a few hands of poker.

Which look a little like this:

  1. Calculating risk
    The debate as to whether there is really any skill involved in a poker game isn’t going to die out anytime soon. In truth, the way poker plays out there is almost entirely a case of chance. Nevertheless, it’s how successfully or otherwise you are able to calculate risk that will determine the outcome. Making quick calculations, carrying out instant risk assessment and seeing what your instinct has to say about the respective risk level.

Suffice to say, all of the above can be applied directly to entrepreneurship in a big way. The simple fact of the matter is that starting and running any kind of business represents a constant process of risk management. The more adept you are at calculating risk and knowing how to accept risk when the odds appear to be in your favour, the more likely you are to succeed.

  1. Cope with pressure
    Again, it all comes down to how seriously you take your poker. However, those who take poker seriously may find that almost every session involves any number of high-pressure situations. Pressure that can have a direct impact on the logic and value of the decisions you make. For a masterclass on how to deal with the most extreme pressure under the most extreme circumstances, you only need to watch the finalists at a major poker tournament – usually hiding behind those biblical stacks of cash.

Pressure is all part and parcel of everyday life for the entrepreneur. It cannot be avoided, therefore needs to be acknowledged and dealt with accordingly. The greater the extent to which you allow pressure to influence your decisions, the more difficult it becomes to succeed in poker or business.

  1. Skill vs gambling
    As already touched upon, those who master the art of poker know exactly where to draw the line between skill and gambling. Which once again comes down to calculated risk. In some instances, you find yourself in a position where the outcome is only as easy to predict as the flip of a coin. In which case, calculated risk goes out the window as there is no skill involved whatsoever. You are taking a chance and gambling on the unknown.

Both in poker and in the business world alike, these kinds of scenarios are anything but uncommon. As such, it is important to know how to identify them, how to determine whether or not now really is the time to gamble and how to make logical decisions based on facts, mathematical statistics and so on. Skill plays an important part in entrepreneurship, but it is almost impossible to succeed without gambling here and there.

  1. People management skills
    The biggest advantage of playing real life poker (as opposed to the online variety) is the way in which it gives you the opportunity to observe and read those around you. Which is one of the most important skills the professional poker player could have. You take note of the way those around you behave and play the game in general, identify patterns, decipher personalities and build individual profiles. You then adapt your own strategy and behaviour accordingly, so as to give yourself the advantage.

All of which can help make you a better boss, believe it or not. Despite the fact that people management isn’t about your own personal victory at the expense of others, the same skill set applies. That being, the ability to identify characteristics, traits and behavioural patterns in others, so as to modify your approach to dealing with them accordingly.

  1. Sales skills
    When you think about it, poker is all about sales. The moment you receive your hand, you are effectively trying to sell it to everyone else around you. It could be that you are trying to convince them that you have a fantastic hand, or that your cards are completely worthless. In any case, what essentially happens throughout the game is a multi-directional negotiation process, wherein you do as much as you can to tell the other players what they want to hear and make them believe what you want them to believe.

Which is basically the textbook definition of salesmanship. The idea being that regardless of what it is you are holding, you can make anyone else think anything about it you want them to think!

  1. Learning from failure
    Last but not least, getting by as an entrepreneur means accepting the fact that the occasional failure or setback is inevitable. Those who are inclined to crumble at the first sight of difficulty cannot and will not make it in business. Rather than throwing tantrums and quitting outright, the best entrepreneurs use every failure as an opportunity to learn and improve.

And it’s exactly the same when it comes to poker. Not to mention, gambling in general. When you undertake the kind of pursuit where you are 100% guaranteed to lose at some point or other, you need to know how to lose proactively. If you’re the type of person who throws a tantrum at every loss and blames everyone else for your own failings, both business and gambling in general are probably not for you!

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