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How poker can make you a more successful entrepreneur

Countless articles and best-selling books have been written about the numerous methods, tips, tricks, and guidelines one has to apply to be able to start and maintain a successful business, or better yet, call oneself a prosperous entrepreneur. The opportunities for launching a company of your own are endless, and no longer as geographically limited as before, with the global market merely a Skype call, email, or video conference away. Technical tools and social media have made the process of connecting with business partners, colleagues, and most importantly consumers, smoother and more streamlined.

Poker, the key to becoming a successful entrepreneur

Provided that your business idea is of the immaterial sort, i.e. without the need of storage, high-scale production, and complex logistics, you can pretty much run your business from the comfort of your living room. A well thought out and customized web page will basically be your main display window and line of communication out to the world. According to a 2014 survey from Bentley University, 2/3 of millennials would like to start a business of their own. That means that roughly 37 percent of people between the ages of 18-34 — depending on exactly which age groups you decide to include in the term millennial — would rather be their own employer than being employed. It is, therefore, more relevant than ever to examine what makes a great businessperson. So, where can one draw inspiration and life lessons to venture out and be your own boss?

Here, we will explore the somewhat unconventional angles to achieve the traits and abilities needed to run a flourishing business by immersing in the world of poker. The strategic skills required to constantly be one step ahead of your competitors, making level headed yet risky decisions, and winning — and sometimes losing — in the right way, are something poker players and entrepreneurs can both agree are key ingredients to a success story, and some of the most evident examples connecting poker to entrepreneurship. There are numerous other ways poker can help you in business as well.

entrepreneur poker

How can poker help you run a better business

Although taking the crucial first step in launching your business is a key — and fundamental — factor to success, and a huge accomplishment in itself, both in the psychological as well as the practical sense of the word, it is unfortunately not enough. Maintaining a victorious company for years, and having it not only survive but flourish in a fast-paced, ever-changing, and demanding market is the true challenge of “entrepreneurship”.

Every day thousands of hopeful “starter-uppers-to-be” decide to take a leap of faith, and put their hopes, dreams, wishes, and in many cases capital, into a new and/or improved idea to create something of use and hopefully get rich trying. The hard truth is that many of them will fail while others will blossom. The allure of great wins in the business world and the others’ downfall may appear enigmatic to the outside observer. However, sweat and tears are not unusual elements in the rags-to-riches narrative often told by wealthy entrepreneurs who have made it, alongside a strong skill set attained in and outside of the classroom.

Although poker may primarily be associated with leisure — apart from those playing professionally and making a living out of it — late night game nights and the glitzy holiday glam of the City of Lights, which include several components of the game —apart from those previously mentioned — may come in handy when branching out as an entrepreneur.

Learn how to improve your business

The thrill and excitement of winning and the daunting fear of “going home” and ultimately failing are considerations shared both by the start-up guy as well as those practicing poker. In poker, and in business, attitude is everything. A positive and optimistic mindset might just do the trick when it comes to the level of success you might have in the game or in the marketplace. Believing in yourself, your ideas and abilities — as cliché as it may seem — is key when it comes to convincing others about the great attributes of your product or service. Poor self-esteem, however, and a negative outlook will most likely not lead to good end results whether around the poker table or in the boardroom. Instead, stand tall, adapt to the conditions — or cards — you have been dealt, keep your cool, and carry on. If your business venture turns out to be victorious, you are allowed to gloat for a while. However, it is equally important, as in poker, to handle your losses in a constructive way and view them as learning experiences. Being able to brush your shoulders off after losing and getting back on the horse again will probably affect your longevity and success in the business — and the poker world as well.

Business lessons from poker sessions

Another important skill mastered by the best in poker, which may also serve those well in the field of business, is the capacity to take action. In poker and in business, you simply cannot afford to miss out on opportunities, they are there for you to seize, provided you have the bravery and sense of timing to do so. Although the safest option might be sitting tight and remaining passive, it is oftentimes the quick decision- making in the heat of the moment, following that instinct or gut feeling, if you may, that leads to greatness. This doesn´t necessarily mean setting strategic and analytical thinking aside and just going with the flow, but better yet calculating risks, measuring possible benefits, and what is at stake, and then going for it.

Reading a poker face isn´t just a catch phrase from a Lady Gaga song but a real deal in poker and in business. Successful entrepreneurs and poker players both know that prosperity is not only attributed to a brilliant idea or skill set, but also to their ability to read and analyze their surroundings. In poker, the opponent is constantly being observed in order to detect any weakness or strength that can be used to the other player’s benefit. One of the most basic yet important principles taught in business schools around the world is the need to conduct business intelligence and convert this into customer value. Simply put, one must constantly analyze the competition, second guess their strategy, and try to predict their next step.


Last but not least, people that are successful in business and in poker both know that hard work, proper analysis, and a never-ending learning and improvement process is not enough. Sometimes the greatest ideas go unnoticed and the promising business goes bankrupt. More often than not, this happens in spite of proper research, good intentions, and substantial efforts, and there might not be any logical explanations to help clear the doubts. The other side of the coin is that an underdog may at the same time suddenly rise and prevail; an impulsive move proves to be just right, and an idea deemed mediocre beforehand turns out to be a genius one. But all of this is the beauty, adventure, and allure of business and poker that attracts people and keeps them coming back for more time after time.

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