Inspired by a Forbes article “What Can Businesses Learn From Expert Poker Players?” Lee Davy turns it around and takes a look at what poker players can learn from businesses?
Whilst sifting through cyber space, searching for something to write about, I stumbled across a piece by Dan Matthews in Forbes.com. Once again, it’s great to see poker written about in mainstream sites and I thought Matthews angle was interesting enough for me to get my quill out.
If, according to Matthews, businesses can learn a lesson or two from poker, then what can poker players learn from businesses?
Here are three thoughts to occupy your mind whilst you make a piece of toast.
Don’t Learn From Mistakes, Learn From Successes
How often do you hear people spouting that mistakes are good?
The theory being that without mistakes you would never progress. Each mistake allows you to conduct research to establish what went wrong, and then implement changes to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Good businesses work in this way.
But what happens next?
What happens after you have plugged the leak? Where are the instructions for moving forward?
Great businesses learn from their successes, not their failures. Success shows you how something worked, you can recognize this, and then apply your time and effort into making sure that you get even more successful outcomes.
Poker players can learn from this thought process. Instead of cross-examining your mistakes and plugging leaks, start to pick out your successful hands, evaluate what made them successful, and do more of the same.
Don’t be a Workaholic
A bad business is one that rewards its employees based on the number of hours that they put into the business. The metric is wrong. It’s one based on huffing and puffing, and not one of value.
Workaholics might appear to present some short-term value but they create nothing but long term pain and anguish. They become tired; their decision-making skills become blunt; their judgment impaired.
What does working more hours mean anyway? Does it mean that they care more about the job than the person who works their statutory 37 hours a week? Does the person who works through his lunch break deserve more credit that the person who takes the full 30 minutes to eat?
Workaholics have a work-life balance that is way out of kilter. They don’t see the kids as often as they should, they don’t spend enough time with the wife, and they are always in need of liquid refreshment to drive down those levels of stress.
And for what?
Poker players should learn from great businesses.
Volume is not always key.
If you are multi-tabling 24 tables, 12 hours a day, then you started clicking buttons whilst thinking carnal thoughts of Gemma Atkinson a very long time ago.
The lights might be on but there is nobody home.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
Remember the key metric.
Play every hand as optimally as you can, not play as many hands as you can.
Don’t Touch Other People’s Piggy Banks
The amount of money that you need to start your business depends wholly on what business you are in. That being said, the lesson that I am about to impart relates to both.
The truly great businesses begin by sourcing as much of their start up capital as they can, without going to outside sources. This is particularly true in the digital age where costs can be kept to an absolute minimum.
There are several reasons why I think it’s good business for businesses to leave other people’s piggy banks alone when starting out.
For starters, you give up control. The people who have entrusted you with their cash are suddenly interested in what you are doing. Your decisions matter to them, and you also feel your throat tightening when a ballsy play needs to be made.
What happens when your investors want their money back? What happens to your long-term plans? Most investors are in and out quicker than Ron Jeremy. Where does that leave your business?
The great businesses retain control.
100% in means 100% out.
Poker players can learn from this also.
Stephen Chidwick has never deposited any money into his poker playing career, and to date he has won millions. Did Chidwick get lucky? Well of course he did. Everyone in poker gets lucky but more importantly he did it.
Too many poker players give away their control by using other people’s money. It creates a lot of wasteful hours haggling over transactions, there is conflict, remorse, and often regret.
Being backed will have an impact on your decisions on the felt. This is especially true when your action is under the microscope of live tournament blogs or under the glare of the TV cameras.
Chidwick is proof that you can go it alone and he isn’t the only one. If you can’t follow suit then you need to ask yourself an important question.
Am I in the right business?