You may have heard of people applying lessons from the game of poker to business settings. To be sure, there are many ways to use poker tactics and strategies when doing business. Knowing how to keep a poker face can allow you to appear unfazed in the face of adversity, untoward deals, or significant developments. At the same time, when you’re not facing business rivals, stonewalling and putting on a poker face may actually get in the way of forging real networking opportunities.
This underscores a crucial fact about using poker game theories for business: it’s a double-edged sword. So to make the most out of the hand that you’re dealt, it’s important to know which poker strategies are actually useful in the corporate world.
Limiting your range
Knowing how to limit the range of hands that you choose to play is crucial to staying at the poker table. This is a fundamental strategy to use if you want to win, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a veteran. In a nutshell, playing a limited range means knowing when to fold or play your hands in order to minimise losses. In business, this is comparable to limiting your range of investments.
That’s why it’s important to concentrate on investing in the most profitable assets – think aces and kings in poker. Just bear in mind that even if your hand shows promise, sometimes the wisest move is to fold.
It all depends on the conditions at the poker table –– or whatever’s on the table for business. In either case, limiting your range means managing risk, minimising losses, and maximising potential profits –– and ultimately making it easier to sort through your finances.
Taking calculated risks
Ariana Huffington once shared that many people in her family discouraged her from founding The Huffington Post, saying she would be taking too big a risk. Today, HuffPost and its journalists have won multiple awards, such as the Peabody Award and even the much-coveted Pulitzer Prize.
That being said, there are times when risk-taking pays off; both at a conference table and in a poker room. Even professional poker players like Maria Konnikova underline the importance of knowing how to calculate poker odds. In other words, when taking a risk, don’t fly blind. Take your circumstances into account, and if you feel you have more to gain than to lose, take the risk.
For example, if your odds of winning that round are 2-1 in your favor, then take that risk. However, if all you have is a small flush draw, then calling at $150 might not be a wise choice. And, if you think about it, all business investments carry some form of risk, so consider investing in opportunities that you feel will bring you the closest to your long-term goals.
Knowing how to read people
Understanding how to read non-verbal cues can go a long way in both poker and business. Given what psychologists and investigative profilers know about physical tells, there are many ways to interpret the messages other players or business colleagues exhibit through gestures, manner of speech, and overall self-conduct.
Having this window into other people’s intentions can come in handy during a poker game as well as in a business meeting. For instance, by taking the time to observe the people you hire, you get better acquainted with their strengths and weaknesses. Consequently, you’ll be able to form more productive, efficient, and cohesive teams within your company.
Avoiding going on tilt
“Going on tilt” is arguably the single most devastating thing that can happen to any poker player. It refers to instances wherein too many bad moves and losses in a row leads players to start being too aggressive and not thinking logically. You might have also seen this happen during business negotiations as well, and it usually ends negatively for everyone involved.
That’s why it’s important to maintain your composure and self-control at all times. Never let losing streaks affect your ability to limit your range, read your opponents, and play or fold where necessary. Likewise, you also shouldn’t let winning streaks make you too confident and stray from sound poker or business strategies. And don’t take risks until you’ve gained the experience to do so confidently.
To combat going on tilt, breathe deeply, slow down your heart rate, and do your best to assess the situation again from an objective point of view. In poker and in business, logic beats emotionally driven decisions every time.