Poker is a common hobby among CEOs and entrepreneurs. Andrey Yanyuk, the founder of eSports company Tempo Storm, is a known fan of poker; and Phil Ivey, one of the best poker players in history, has invested in casinos, collaborated in the development of sneakers, and has launched his own NFTs. For most poker players, this is far from a coincidence, as regularly playing the game can provide entrepreneurs with a number of valuable tools. Let’s see some examples.
In order to accurately determine if folding or raising your bet is a good decision, you need to learn the hierarchy of poker hands, as well as the probability of winning. On top of high-level mathematical skills, playing poker also requires verbal and self-regulatory skills.
Entrepreneurs who play poker should develop better analytical and mathematical skills, allowing them to assess the risk of a financial opportunity in a quick and more precise manner. It can also help them communicate effectively under stressful situations.
Basing Your Decision on Data
People tend to overestimate their ability to make decisions. This might sound counterintuitive, especially when we think about experienced traders making decisions based on gut feelings. However, research has shown that it’s better for less experience traders to come up with a plan and follow it.
People who play poker know that numbers rule and that following your instincts can cost you a lot of money. This is advantage entrepreneurs who play poker may hold over people with the same level of business experience. Every entrepreneur learns this lesson eventually, but poker players know it from the very start.
Learning When to Walk Away
One of the most important lessons entrepreneurs must learn is when to walk away from a negotiation. Setting their own non-negotiable conditions and sticking to them can protect them from accepting bad deals in the long term. This is, however, an essential aspect of poker.
Players have to constantly decide whether their opponent’s bet represents their actual hand or if they are bluffing. Even if movies like Casino Royale have popularized the idea that poker players bluff themselves into winning a high-stakes game, the truth is that most of the time it’s better to cut your losses and fold.
Poker is an intrinsically social activity. Yes, you do have to analyze your opponent’s behavior in search of a weakness. But you also engage in friendly conversations about how winning at poker requires time and dedication, and maybe even get recommendations on how to improve your strategy.
In fact, if you spend some time at poker tables, you may find out that you have a shared interest in real estate or foreign exchange, and that the other players have come up with their own entrepreneurial ideas. Who knows, maybe you might already be playing against a future business partner.
Decision Making Skills
Poker may seem like a simple game, but a single round may require making a lot of choices. Players must decide their initial bet based only on the pair of cards they receive. Then they have to decide whether to fold, check or raise their bet when the dealer reveals the flop, the turn, and the river.
Likewise, entrepreneurs have to be selective about the environments they choose to pursue success in. They might choose to invest in the real estate market when there’s enough interest to make prices attractive, but not enough to make the environment too competitive; in the same way, a poker player may prefer a table where the players’ skills are more or less balanced.
In order to become successful, entrepreneurs have to learn a lot of lessons and acquire multiple skills. Normally, this can take several years and cost thousands if not millions of dollars. But by playing poker regularly, you might be able to obtain the tools necessary to skip some of these steps.