Pokers 9 Most Useful Business Lessons

Get comfortable with the numbers


Your poker strategy, just like your business plan, should be based on the numbers.

Just like knowing the odds of your starting hand winning, all your business decisions should base on a combination of factors but always have them backed-up by the figures. If the numbers don’t add up, don’t do it. The decision to go all in may be exciting, but in business as in poker, you’re in it for the money, not the adrenaline rush, and you should only take the risk when the odds are in your favour.

Know when to go all in and when to fold

When to fold

In poker, you’ll find that you have to fold often, and that’s OK, but when you have a winning hand, you need to know when to push or go ‘all in.’ It is always a calculated risk.

Knowing when to fold is about minimising your losses. It is just as important as maximising your wins otherwise you run the risk of operating at a net loss.

In poker learn to identify a losing hand and fold quickly. And in business or investments, it is a common mistake to compound a bad situation by continuing to go all-in despite adverse market conditions. It is where poker skills can help you learn to recognise when to quit a failing project or deal before putting any more resources into it.

Be cool and be strong


In both business and poker, you need to be able to make calm observations and analyse situations and then go on to make quick decisions. And to do this, you can’t let your emotions rule your decisions. Instead, take advantage of those who are letting their hearts rule their hands and causing them to be reckless.

Just as important is not to let your emotions show. You may be doing a little victory dance in your head when you are raking in the chips, but be cool and stay humble. Similarly, if you are screaming inside, don’t give your opponent the advantage by letting it show.

In business as in poker, you also need to show incredible resilience and be able to deal with pressure. Anyone who has got through to the late stages of a poker tournament will know about endurance. It’s that level of focus and commitment that you need to be successful in business.

Also remember that however well you play, some losses are inevitable. You also have to learn to accept your losses and pick yourself up and start again.

Have patience and discipline and accept the risks


If you are after instant gratification, you may need to rethink your play. As with business, especially start-ups, and investments, it takes the time to see real results, and you must be able to accept that you will not win every time. The risk is about understanding what’s at stake and that some losses are inevitable.

Be prepared to come back fresh to the table after making losses and play the game.

Be a people person

People person

So much of running a business is about communication and understanding people. Poker players develop skills in reading people and adapting to the environment at every new table. It’s also vital to be able to accurately assess the relative skills of your opponents especially when it comes to identifying the ‘sucker’ at the table.

Noticing and understanding people’s behaviours and being able to predict how they are going to act is an invaluable skill in the workplace. It helps you to work out what people want and allows you to be a better negotiator with clients, investors, and employees.

A little bit of self-belief goes a long way

Self belief

Unlike a lot of other casino games, which are based almost entirely on pure luck, to be good, a poker takes some skill. If you’re good at the numbers and have worked on the skills, then you’re justified in feeling optimistic about winning. It is not blind hope.

And so in business, you need to believe in yourself and your abilities, only this way will you be able to succeed and inspire others and to do the same.

Be flexible


It’s one thing to know all the odds of your starting hands, but you also need to be able to adapt your play at the poker table to the prevailing situation. You must consider such factors as who you are up against, what kind of game do they play and the current level of your bankroll.

This ability to adapt to different situations, adjust your outlook, and make good quick decisions is just as important in business.

Play to your strengths and know your weaknesses

Strengths and WeaknessesIn poker, it’s never good to go in with the attitude that you are the smartest person in the game. And in business, it’s vital to know what you are good at and what you would be better delegating or outsourcing. Just as important is to know when to take a break. In poker, it is important to recognise your triggers for going on tilt and know when to walk away.


Know what works at the poker table but not in businesses

Understand what works in Poker

Some skills and tactics are acceptable in poker but bad practice in business. Lying is one such tactic that does not translate well from poker to commerce, in fact, it can damage your reputation and ruin your business. Bluffing in poker is expected, respected even, but if you get caught lying to clients, employees, investors or shareholders, you may not get a second chance.

It is also important to remember that, unlike poker, running a business and being successful is not all about winners and losers. In poker, there is one winner, and everyone else is a loser, but for business to thrive it must necessarily be a more collaborative process, and while the aim is to be a leader in your market, it is not to destroy the competition at all costs. A bit of competition is a healthy thing, and industry competitors will regularly meet, and network to share ideas and innovations.