Can Poker Strategy Be Implemented in Business Activity?


Enter the Arena of High-Risk Entertainment – Startups and Poker Games

It has been said that poker strategists are akin to entrepreneurs. They both take calculated risks in the hopes of generating big rewards. Whether these two disciplines are indeed alike depends on how you approach poker and business. Successful business people are not the ones who act irrationally at the poker table, playing on tilt. They are the ones who quietly bide their time, folding more hands than they play, battling it out in a war of attrition against other players, and waiting until the competition gets whittled away before revealing their master plan.

A smart poker player is one who understands odds, probabilities, bankroll management, and most importantly the players at the table. Good poker players play their cards well, while great poker players play the players well and understand the types of cards that they are holding. Once you enter the poker arena, you are a fish in a shark tank. Believe it or not, there is always a shark at a poker game, and that player is waiting for you to burn through your chip stack by outmuscling you, outbluffing you, and outmanoeuvring you every step of the way. In business, your competition is equally relentless. Any competitive advantage they can get, they will use. That’s the nature of the game.

What Can You Learn about Business from Poker?

For starters, the more experience you have playing poker, the better you will be at it. Much the same is true of business. It is a cutthroat game of profit and loss. Without a chip stack, you’re out of the game. In business, you’ll often hear the expression bandied about – it takes money to make money – that’s 100% true. Entrepreneurs routinely make decisions based on incomplete information. The same can be said of poker. You’re going up against players that you probably don’t know too much about.

It is foolhardy to disregard the player’s competence based on how they look, or appear to be acting. In business, many of the toughest lessons have been learned by misunderestimating the competition. That’s why experience is important in games of poker. It gives you pause so that your first impression of somebody is not your lasting impression.

The game of poker is multidimensional. It relies on your mathematical and statistical prowess, your shrewdness and cunning, behavioural psychology, and your emotional balance. It’s tough mastering all these disciplines in one game. Many players are great at bullying other players into submission, but they often fall short when they read the game wrong. Intimidation can only go so far in a poker game.

Who’s the Sucker at the Table?

If you can’t spot the sucker at the table, it’s probably you. A mix of passive and aggressive play is needed in a game of poker as much as it is in the game of life. Business people understand this all too well. You need to give and take to negotiate the best possible deal. This is where leverage plays a part. If you have something that others probably want, you can use the carrot and stick mentality to get what you need. It is possible to leverage the rules of poker to your advantage.

But what exactly is leverage in the game of poker, and how can you maximize it to your advantage?  It’s pretty much the same in business as it is in poker. If you have a large chip stack, and you are the chip leader then you can use that to your advantage. By leveraging your stack, you can get other players to do what you want them to. In fact, the size of your bets, and your position at the poker table determines how well you will fare. Much the same is true of business activity.

If an ICO (initial coin offering) for a company has a unique concept that investors are interested in, it’s important to get proof of that concept out to market as quickly as possible. By getting in early, you can develop the necessary foundation to expand market penetration, coverage, and investment opportunities. Entrepreneurs across the board will tell you that without risk, there is no reward. If you’re looking to play it safe on every single hand, you’re never going to win the monster pots. Sometimes you have to take that leap of faith, and that’s what poker teaches you.

The Unpredictability of Poker: Always Play Your Cards Close to Your Chest


There is a reason why successful business people never reveal all their tactical and strategic plans to the mass market. You may get beaten to the punch. Proprietary technology, in-house development, marketing campaigns and new product developments are protected by strict privacy, security, and secrecy rules. Nobody wants all their research and development leaked to the mass market. In poker, the only way that you can consistently come out ahead is by changing your game plan.

If you tend to bluff a lot, the bluff becomes ineffective. If you repeat the same strategies time and again, they will soon stop working. In poker, as in business, you must learn to adapt to the situation. The constitution of the players at your table, the small blinds and the big blinds, the stakes, and the intensity of the game will determine what approach you should adopt. Much the same is true in business. At times you will need to play loose and aggressive, and sometimes you may be required to play tight.

A Structured Approach Is a Winning Approach

Few people can argue with the fact that effective money management is the single most important skill you can have in business and in poker. Seasoned poker players have learned that lesson long ago in their careers. Not every hand is worth playing; in fact most hands should be folded.

In business, not every deal is worth doing, not every purchase is worth making. You must pick your battles wisely. There’s no point throwing good money on the table if you’re not holding a great starting hand. In fact, the best poker players tend to fold more hands than they play. This is called selective play and it results in long term poker gains. If you looking to maximize your return, you need to invest wisely. A weak starting hand is a waste of time.

Along with a structured approach is discipline. Successful business people understand that discipline is sacrosanct. You must stay true to the cause. Incremental losses are not failures – they are lessons to be learned in your march to victory. Every successful individual has faced failure along the way. These failures are pyrrhic in nature; they only make the rewards much sweeter.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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