Poker players learn as they play. There’s no way to teach the game except for new players to make their way through it and pick up skills and understanding as they go.
Once a poker player can stand on their own two feet, so to speak, there are a lot of skills they learn playing the game that they can apply in other areas of life, particularly business.
There are several different types of poker. The three main types are draw, stud, and community card poker and there are a number of “sub-genres” as well: 2-7 triple draw, Pai Gow, Omaha Hold Em, and Pineapple Poker to name a few.
You can learn different skills from all of them: how to handle finances, logical decision-making under pressure, patience, reading and understanding other people, staying calm under pressure, understanding risk versus reward, and the beat goes on.
Being a poker player teaches you things you’d never expect to learn from a game played for fun, but those skills can take you a long way in the business world.
The mental and emotional aspects of the game teach valuable lessons better learned in a game than when dealing with business decisions that can cost billions in revenue and even jobs. Let’s look at what poker can teach entrepreneurs and why those skills are so valuable.
Table of Contents
1. Operating Under Pressure
One of the first things you learn in poker is that operating well in high-pressure situations is essential to pulling off a win. You have to maintain your poker face – the appearance that all is well no matter what your hand looks like or how few options you may really have- no matter what the game throws at you.
In the business world, things can change as quickly as the tide. Clients and economic events may throw unpredictable circumstances at you, and you will have to handle them while staying calm.
Staying calm is essential to making practical, logical decisions in the face of what may seem insurmountable odds. If you aren’t able to master this skill, you won’t last long as a business person because you can never predict what’s going to come your way next.
2. Understanding Risk vs. Reward
Pot Limit Omaha poker can teach you a lot about risk versus reward in a reasonably low-stakes environment. This game’s under pot betting rules determine that the maximum bet or raise can only be as big as the total pot.
This can teach you about balancing taking a risk that might pay off with how much it might pay off: aka the reward. Any risk is only worth taking if the reward you may get from taking it will outweigh the damage it may cause if it doesn’t pan out.
Taking risks in business follows the same principles; the reward must outweigh the risk to make it a worthwhile play when you are dealing with clients’ assets and maybe even job security for you and your employees.
7 Card Stud can also teach you a few things about rankings: understanding where different clients sit in your business and where different deals rank on the scale of risk versus reward will take you a long way.
3. Learning To Read People
A big part of becoming a good poker player is learning how to read the tells of the other players at the table. A tell is a little sign that a player unwittingly gives that shows what is going on in their hand.
It might be an involuntary widening of the eyes or eyebrow raise, a slight smirk or smile may appear, or even a shift in posture. If you can learn to decode these gestures, you have some insight into what that player is thinking and experiencing without seeing their cards.
If you’re negotiating with a client who keeps their cards close to their chest, so to speak, you’ll need all the insight possible into what they really think as you lay out your plan or make them an offer. This gives you the upper hand in all dealings.
In poker, you must be willing to wait it out before making a play. Timing is everything, and you have to be prepared to hold off on making a big move until that timing is just right. Move too early or too late, and you might not bring off the win that you expected.
The world of business waits for no one, so you have to be the one to wait patiently and time your moves perfectly to make the most of a situation. Patience is a difficult skill to learn, but it will pay off in ways you could never imagine.
Playing poker is not only a great way to have some fun with your friends or even with strangers, but it’s also a way of teaching yourself skills that will make your efforts in the world of business a lot more worthwhile. If you can apply your poker skills in business, they will take you a long way.