5 poker lessons that will make you a better entrepreneur

Business News | 7 Jun |

It isn’t uncommon for poker to often be compared with business, and there’s a good reason why people do that. The thing is, there are more similarities between the card game and the corporate game than you may even realize. Let’s get right down the brass tacks now and discuss what the relationship between the two is and what can you actually learn about entrepreneurship from the game of poker.

Learning the Basics

You can neither be an entrepreneur nor a poker player if you do not have your basics down. As far as poker is concerned, you will first need to check this guide, which will get you acquainted with the rules and how it’s played. The advanced strategy part will come later on, but unless you get how to play the game and have memorized all its rules, you are not going to win any tournaments anytime soon!

Learning to be an entrepreneur doesn’t have an easy eight-step program, unfortunately, but there are just so many online courses these days that can teach you everything you need to learn in a year or two, without having to take a break from work. As it is in poker, you cannot skip this step, because whether you are a natural businessman or a potential poker champion of the future, unless you understand how the game is played, you can’t win in either.

Emotion, Poker and Business Do Not Mix Together

Learning to separate your emotions from the game is an advanced skill that all the successful poker players in the game have learned to control with near-superhuman precision.

When you are about to convince a party for a million-dollar deal or lose your entire bet on the table if you make even one mistake, it takes a special ability to not let your nerves show up.

In poker, if you lose your composure, take more time than usual, or even allow one line of furrow show up your forehead, you have lost your poker face and most likely, your hand in as well.

Similarly, in business, in order for an all-important presentation to go as intended, it needs to be done without letting your emotions take over, as it will essentially make you a nervous wreck.

Money is Not as Important as it May Seem

Whether you lose everything on the table or blow a huge deal for your own company, it is imperative to hold your composure even then. Another similarity between the corporate game and the game of poker is that even when you think that it’s all over, it never really is over. By breaking down after a lost deal or a lost hand, showing emotions only makes you look weak, and we can’t have that here.

Money isn’t even as important as you may think it is, and that’s actually a beneficial thought process which will help you to earn more money. If that sounds complicated and self-contradictory, let’s try and understand what’s going on here.

Whether you are playing a game of poker at a table full of important people or trying to strike a deal with a lucrative client, money should be the second concern. Your primary concern should be trying to form a rapport with the important personalities you meet during the games and the important CEO you are negotiating the deal with.

Once you have managed to establish a relationship with the other players in either game, you are networking for future deals that will likely eclipse the current one, or making connections that will let you in on exclusive high-stakes tournaments poker rooms around the globe, which very few people can get access to. Besides, any connection made with someone important can come in handy later on in life, even outside business or card games.

Being Judgemental: Reading People

It’s offensive to be called judgemental almost anywhere else, but when it comes to business or poker, your success depends on it!

Major players in business or cards play the players, which means that they make quick judgemental decisions on the personality of the people present in a room.

World-class poker players can actually tell when someone’s pulse quickens by just following his/her breathing, and a shrewd businessman will know whom to pitch to within a few minutes of entering a room and shaking hands with everybody.

Preparing a Strategy and Preparing for its Failure Simultaneously

This isn’t a movie where you know that the protagonist is going to win his hand in the end and win it big, which is exactly true of entrepreneurship as well.

You need a real understanding of poker to be able to increase your chances of predicting outcomes, upcoming cards, opponent’s cards, etc. Learning the game of probability and statistics is necessary to be able to prepare strategies for the table, but they won’t always work.

Similar to a poker game, you also need to learn your competitor’s next move in the sector, predict upcoming market patterns and even read your board members to know which ones are on your side while making a major play for power. However, just like in a game of poker, you won’t always be right, and that’s where the next part comes in.

It could be that you were wrong in making a prediction, or someone else outsmarted you, or maybe the entire scenario changed due to a player’s unexpected move, or a government policy that went against your interests; the bottom-line is that you need the ability to think on your feet and adapt in accordance with the situation.

Prepare to win with a strategy in both business and poker, but prepare to adapt, cut your losses and maximize your changed position in the best way possible simultaneously. Having a Plan B is a basic rule in business and poker, but sometimes, none of the plans work, making it necessary to take dynamic decisions under pressure. Prepare for that in both poker and business, but experience with either will teach you well about this part, irrespective of the playfield.

Entrepreneurship has so much in common to poker, that once you start thinking about it, it can be quite enlightening. Just be careful to not lose sight of which one is entertainment and which one is your career, and then prioritize them accordingly.

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