Culture, Leadership

Tales from the World Series of Poker – Playing poker with a potential business partner leads to insight

HSP Poker & Business Similarities

As I get ready for the start of the next WSOP tournament, I am doing what many others are doing across the world.  Staring at my phone, reading my Twitter feed.  Currently, it’s dominated by all kinds of updates and thoughts on the World Series of Poker from various poker professionals showing off their big stacks or complaining about bad beats from the night before.  

One series of tweets stood out to me as actually interesting though.  It was from a well-known and successful pro, Faraz Jaka.  He is a self-described businessman and poker aficionado.  His thesis in a series of tweets is you should really play poker with someone you are thinking about doing business with.  It will give you all sorts of insights into how they think and how they will respond to various real-life circumstances.

While you might not actually get a chance to play poker with someone beforehand, it does provide an interesting framework for thinking about what the “person” will be like in certain circumstances. The game of poker can give away someone’s business skills and true personal characteristics they might not outrightly present.  Anyway, thought it was interesting and some of you may enjoy it.  See the tweet story below.

World Series of Poker Tournament

“Poker forces you to develop key life skills. It really puts you to the test. I always tell my friends in the business to play poker with people you’re considering partnering with. Playing poker with someone is a great way to truly get to know them. And how working with them will play out. Here is a list about what it may reveal”Faraz Jaka – Poker Pro and Businessman

  • “How do you handle controversy? With big money on the line in poker, sometimes something goofy happens. A player, dealer, or someone not even in the hand, makes a mistake that influences who wins a large pot. Are you able to maintain composure/be objective in these high-stress scenarios?

  • How patient, can you be when the deck is not in your favor? – Do you stick to your strategy or get fixated on short-term results? Do you get impatient and lose focus? – When others get lucky against you, do you experience feelings of anger, hatred, jealousy, or remain calm?

  • Are you vulnerable to “Sunk Cost Fallacy”? When you lose chips to a player, do you chase back the exact same chips or recognize that all chips at the table are equal in value? Do you adjust your strategy to get up a certain amount/even or just continue playing optimal strategy?

  • Understand Risk Vs Reward? You’re often “getting odds” to call a bet knowing you are less than 50% to win: $100 pot, some1 bets 50. You risk 50 to win back 200. 50/200=25%. People often call, lose, say “Knew you had it, I shouldn’t have called!” Instead of being content that they would win greater than 25% of the time making it correct long term

  • Are you able to accept an archenemy’s success? Regardless of industry, it’s natural to have competitors. Sometimes your archenemy in-game has your number that day. All you can do is go with the flow, take the punches, minimize loss, and wait for your opponent to reveal a weakness

  • Do you have good decision-making skills? Every day we make decisions with limited information. Will dating xxx workout? Should I take this job? Should I partner w/ xxx, should I go to this university? Poker teaches you to put together different pieces of info to make the best decision

  • Are you short-term results-oriented? (Continued from previous) When your decision, based on limited info didn’t work out, do you make comments like “I knew I shouldn’t have blah blah” Or do you stay objective and think long-term? The info you have now, you didn’t have at the time of your decision

  • Poker is the best strategic game of all time. It tests your ability to handle controversy, be patient, use logic, analyze risk, humble yourself to competition, and be process-orientated. Try playing poker., It might just help you become the best version of yourself.” (Faraz Jaka Tweets @FarazJaka )
Playing Poker & Business Parallels

Poker is really just a game. I know that.  A cool game that I love playing, but just a game.  One of the reasons many of us are so drawn to it is the fact that it exercises the parts of the brains we also use to excel at business.  This is not always a conscious thing so it’s fun to highlight the parallels.  I often hear people talk about poker as gambling.  I often hear people describe entrepreneurs as risk takers and gamblers.  I wholeheartedly disagree with both characterizations.   A good entrepreneur isn’t a gambler but a solid business person who is willing to take some risks.  Someone who can take the ups and the downs without melting.  Someone is not going to bet the farm on a double or nothing scheme.  Someone who constantly puts themselves in a position to succeed all while knowing that sometimes a bad luck streak will still hit. Despite the luck factor, both poker and entrepreneurship are heavy skill-based activities.  But because of the luck factor, you must have these other traits to get you through the bad stretches. Nonetheless, Jaka is right: Poker skills are like business skills. If you’re thinking of working with a new business partner, play a game of poker! Unveil those deep characteristics you truly want in a partner to bring you both success.

Are you looking for your own entrepreneurial skill level? High Stakes Partners can help. We can help you understand whether your skill level is where it needs to be.  We can help counsel you through those tough times that will happen to every successful person too.  Reach out is you have any thoughts or questions. We’ve been there. Contact our business experts today!


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