Entrepreneurial Lessons from the Poker Table

Sometimes we get schooled in some really unexpected ways.

The lessons I learn about business from other aspects of life never cease to amaze. I pick up ideas from other industries and figure out how I can incorporate them into what I do. I look at my everyday interactions and observe wisdom I can use in my business practices. Sports, movies, and other fun activities lead me to some great professional applications, too.

One activity I love is playing poker.

Today, I bring lessons to pull from poker and apply to business. I’m laying out five of my best plays that help me win in my online business so you can try your hand at these awesome moves in the entrepreneurial game.

By the way, if you want to hear this in podcast form, simply follow this link.

To build a successful business, you need a strategy. My strategy underlies all the decisions I make for every business I start, and it’s a huge part of my success. Check out my FREE e-guide about taking your big ideas and turning them into a real-life, money-making business.

5 Poker Table Lessons for Business Owners

When you sit down at the poker table, you need a strategy so you don’t lose all your bets. Your business also needs a solid plan—you won’t succeed without it. Take these five tips from the poker table and make a strategy that helps you win!

  1. Pick a Good Game

In a casino, you can choose from endless games. I choose poker over other options because of the element of skill involved. A player can learn strategies to increase the chances of winning

Be particular about the type of “game” that you pick. Find a niche that you want to take part in day-in and day-out

Remember that some niches have better marketability and sales potential than others. I like to participate in a hungry market—one that not only buys, but that buys more product, more often. The “magic” industry gives us a great example of this kind of market. Magicians constantly buy the latest and greatest tricks, equipment, and ways to make their audience say, “Wow!” They look to buy new kinds of products all the time, like books, props, videos, memberships, and even new decks of cards.

I strategically look for markets that have a consistent flow of purchasing. That way, I know the demand will continue and my business will thrive.

  1. Set a Basic Strategy

It’s not a good idea to sit down at the poker table without any idea of the rules of the game or what hands to play. You need a fundamental understanding of how the game works before you make an attempt to win. You need to come up with a basic strategy.

Strategy differs from tactics. In the business world, people often try to teach certain tactics they’ve used. Those tactics may work great for their business strategy, but they might be terrible for yours. That’s like entering a poker game and trying the tactic of bluffing, every single hand. You have to go a bit deeper than that.

Strategy gives us a guide to evaluate every situation. I make decisions based on my situation and strategy, and I find a solution that works. I can troubleshoot and figure out next steps because I already have a strategy. If you want to see the strategy I use all the time, check it out here.

  1. Beware of Conventional Wisdom

Some poker players think an ace-king starting hand, a Big Slick, is one of the best you can get. In reality, this hand has its weaknesses. When you start to get the rest of the cards, those two high cards don't often connect well.

Just because many people tell you about the “best” way doesn’t make it true.

You want to have a sharp awareness of conventional wisdom—ideas that everyone seems to take for granted. Be wary and do your homework. Make sure reality matches those “standard” ideas about business. I’ve been amazed by how many “standard business practices” don’t actually work. I can often find a better way to strategize or make something more efficient and practical. 

Test out ideas that everyone talks about and make sure you practice what works for your business.

  1. “Grinders” Make the Money

In the movie, Rounders, players called “grinders” play low-stakes games, sitting for hours and hours, grinding out a living. I saw a guy just like this when I visited Las Vegas casinos. As a professional poker player, he said the kinds of games you play determine whether or not you make money. 

You have to prepare to grind it out in a business startup. You’ll win some… you’ll lose some… but you’ll play the game and gain valuable experience. Players that play all the time get better than those that don’t. In business, people that get out and do business every day get better than people that just talk and plan, but never take action.

As you move up in your business, you don’t have to grind as much. But in the beginning, embrace it! You’ll get priceless skills and understanding that rewards you later on.

  1. Handle the Ups and Downs of Your Emotions

You can do everything “right” in a poker game, and still lose the hand. You can have the best starting hand in poker and still lose that hand… and all the money you bet.

In business, you can do everything “right” according to the experts, and you can still lose. Yikes! How do you handle the emotional swings of this kind of work?

Some players get mad at everyone else: other players, the dealer, the onlookers. Some businesspeople do this, too. They blame everyone around them. 

But really successful businesspeople keep their emotions in check. They look at their own responsibility for whatever happens. If they did everything correctly, based their actions on sound strategies and principles, and couldn't have done anything better, but still lost, they don’t let it bother them for long. They know that if they continue to make correct decisions, they will win in the long run.

Whatever business you have, find ways to apply these five wise principles from poker into the work you do. If you internalize these lessons, you’ll have the confidence to eventually succeed in your business ventures, no matter what you face.

For more secrets the so-called “gurus” won’t tell you about making money online, check out my podcast.

About the Author
Tom is the host of What's the Secret podcast and co-founder of Offlinesharks.com

2 comments on “Entrepreneurial Lessons from the Poker Table

  1. Duane Brenton says:

    Poker is very valuable at learning various skills. I would add developing the ability to read people to the list.

  2. Jason Hoobler says:

    Ya, no kidding. I could just about blush for aggravated cool off the curve of inexperience, they are almost the same involuntariness. Working on it.

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