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How Playing Poker Can Improve Your Business Skills

Business experience doesn’t always need to come from the corporate world…

After all, succeeding in business requires a whole host of experience and skills, but the best students look at how they can learn from every interaction they have. There are opportunities to learn all around us as well as chances to network with people. Thinking that you can only gain those skills in a classroom or in a boardroom will shut you out to a lot of great learning opportunities. Knowing how to learn these lessons ahead of time is key to avoiding some of the worst headaches owning a business can offer.

Sometimes we can gain new skills in unusual ways, such as playing games like poker. The two worlds are very different, but there are lots of lessons that can be picked up at the poker table that can make you a better businessperson.

Be Process Driven

It is easy to get bogged down in the end goal when it comes to business. Having a successful company, with money to retire on when the time comes, is often the vision that keeps business owners getting up in the morning. However, fixating on something in the distance can distract from the day-to-day work that goes into making that dream a reality. It can cause people to take bigger risks than are necessary and, ultimately, to become disheartened by the small victories that are needed to reach those big goals.

The same is true when it comes to poker. Focusing on defeating a specific opponent or winning a certain hand can cause people to continue playing hands that should be folded or making bets that don’t make sense with the circumstances in front of them. Whether you are playing poker or building your business, sticking to your plan is going to be a much better path to success than taking big risks.

Mitigate Risks

It is impossible to succeed in business without taking risks. Those risks might be big or they might be small, but they always need to be managed and calculated. Business is all about calculation; profits, risk, resource levels, and much more. Being able to calculate risk is a key element for any business owner, which is handy, as it is also a key attribute of a successful poker player. Calculating poker odds is more than just knowing the poker hand rankings. It is about figuring out exactly how likely a better hand than yours is to come up so you can bet accordingly.

Knowing when a risk is worth taking is important in both poker and in business and you can’t do that if you don’t train your brain to calculate the risks in front of you. That is a skill that can be gained through poker and will help you keep your head in the game when it comes to business.

Know Your Business Environment

Good market research is something that every business owner does from time to time. Learning who your customers are and, more importantly, finding out how your competitors are meeting their needs is a key to keeping ahead of the curve and never getting left behind. It allows you to position yourself so you can survive in case of an unexpected turn in the market.

In poker, players will look for another player’s tell, some sign that they either have the best cards or are, in fact, bluffing to try to get themselves out of a bad situation. This isn’t always as reliable as it is in the movies, but it starts with doing research into an opponent’s play history. What cards do they like to fold and which do they like to play? Data is more reliable than any tell could ever be.


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