Poker and the Business World


If you want to succeed in the world of commerce, then you need situational awareness, an ability to analyse problems systematically, a drive to succeed, an eye for details and the willingness to keep on working even when things get a little boring. These skills are common for high level athletes, successful business people, and really anyone who achieves the highest levels in their chosen pursuit.

Poker is no exception in terms of requiring drive, dedication and a cool head to play it at the highest levels, but what is interesting is that poker’s skills are actually a) learnable, and b) directly transferable.

According to Greg Dinkin, author of The Poker MBA, playing poker can actually teach you a number of transferable skills, including decision making, critical thinking and psychology. Poker helps you to improve both your impartial strategic thinking skills and your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is a skill that is essential in business because fatigue, human nature and emotional drives play an important role in leading people and in understanding the decisions that they make. Playing poker immerses you in an environment where your skills are tested at a more intense level than ever before, so you learn quickly.

Decision Making

So it should come as no surprise that people who perform strongly on top poker sites fare well in business too. Poker helps people to detach themselves from their emotional connections with certain hands or situations. Many players, both novices and pros, develop emotional attachments to specific sets of cards, or develop prejudicial views of hands that lost them a lot of money at some point in the past.

These biases are a part of human nature but they are not something that should be encouraged, and playing poker on a regular basis reveals those biases and helps you to re-evaluate your thinking and identify the pattern before it becomes ingrained.

Risk Management

Risk management is another skill that both poker players and business people need to spend some time developing. There are two parts to risk management; firstly, you need to learn how to create boundaries that suit your level of risk aversion or comfort, and secondly you need to learn how to handle your bankroll.

Bankroll management is similar to budget management – committing everything to one business deal is just like committing everything to one hand; excessively risky and not a formula for long-term success. Learning from the mistakes you make on the poker table, and learning to play mathematically correct poker, will help you to become a better business person.

Good business practices are a combination of logical thinking and highly developed soft skills. Most people have one of those attributes, but not the other. While it is possible to learn those skills from a business course, or from real world experience, learning it on the poker felts will save you a great deal of time and help you avoid potentially expensive business mistakes. There is a reason that some of the world’s top casino brands recruit graduates via poker nights!

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