Along with chess, the game of poker is often put on a pedestal, regarded as a true test of coolness under pressure and steely focus - and for good reason. The world's best players possess an extensive list of skills that have helped them achieve success at the highest levels within the game, and many of those skills are transferable to other disciplines away from the casino table.
When perusing lists of big earners at the poker table you'll immediately be struck with how many of them are also esteemed entrepreneurs, making a good argument that a good poker player often makes an effective businessperson. Logging on to a reputable Canadian poker site you'll be able to encounter the poker elite and witness firsthand what separates them from your average hobbyist player.
We illuminate what each of these aptitudes are and how they might benefit someone in the corporate world.
Both the world of business and a high stakes poker tournament can be high-pressure situations and in each scenario it's crucial to maintain an outward appearance of poise and composure. In the card game, if you crumble you may broadcast to other players exactly what your hand might comprise, which is a certain way to find yourself leaving the table early.
There are many scenarios in business where the gravity of the situation will intensify, closing an important sale for example, and not exuding an air of confidence can be infectious and thus jeopardize the chances of a conversion. Proficient poker players will appear unphased in these settings and broadcast that they are trustworthy and reliable, and that there would be no regret in a decision made to collaborate with them.
By the same token the eponymous poker face has become a synonym for hiding your true emotions. It might not always be a good thing to have a poker face during business interactions since many prosperous deals are built on relationships and interactions, an inscrutable expression could be a barrier to these developments.
It goes without saying that a successful business by definition is one that is profitable. Even when companies have accounting departments dedicated to the task it is crucial for decision makers to have a good head for figures and money management.
Poor decisions can create cash flow problems, unprofitable ventures and ultimately failure in the market. Career poker players have had to develop their talent at dealing with large sums of money and hence are often equally well versed in a business environment.
An event in isolation, any player can get lucky (or unlucky) and find themselves at either end of a valuable pot but for poker players to have longevity in the sport they need to be able to assess risk using a series of calculations and subsequently make the correct call.
The laws of probability dictate that volatility will decrease with frequency, meaning the more times a player makes a statistically sound call, the more likely their experienced odds will approach the mathematical ones. This is to say that if a call is 75% likely to occur, there is still a 1 in 4 chance that it will go the other way if performed only once but if the experiment (call) is made thousands of times the player will receive real odds very close to 75%.
Admittedly the risks involved in the world of business are far more complex with many more variables but being well practiced in making the 'correct' call can only be advantageous.
Having a firm grasp on your competition is fundamental in both business and poker settings. Players at the top are able to make uncanny reads of their competitors and guess with frightening accuracy what hand they hold.
Poker pro, Daniel Negreanu has a highlight reel of times he's audibly predicted his opponents cards even down to the precise number. It's no surprise that the Canadian poker phenom has also made a career of successfully marketing his own brand too.
During a card game, players are building up a picture of what scenario is unfolding based on the actions of their opponents and the likelihood of those events occurring. Players can use 'tells', physical giveaways or verbal responses that hint at the strength of another player's hands. We've already discussed how advantageous it is to keep those tells concealed in sport and in business too.
Tells and probabilities are just two examples of the fine details poker players are constantly monitoring in order to give them an advantage over their rivals. Having an acute attention to detail is a fantastic skill to take into many walks of life since it produces accurate, more error free work.
A business plan, for instance, that is meticulous and precise is more likely to receive approval and funding than one that is vague and has failed to consider some of the possible aspects.
Poker tournaments can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days and, naturally, being able to maintain focus throughout the duration can be the difference between winning and losing. It is also said that the markets never sleep and hence some successful traders need to be able to stay switched on for long sessions so as not to miss a lucrative opportunity.
It's no accident that there are lengthy lists of entrepreneurs that are also successful poker players. It's a sport that has huge transferability to many walks of life but business and poker appear to be inextricably linked.