How Running a Business is like Playing Poker, and How it isn’t

Being a business owner is like being a poker player. You can learn the most important aspects of business and also train your self at a game table.

Watch how top entrepreneurs handle financial issues similar to poker. Is the poker-playing business link just an analogy? Or is there something that businesspeople could learn from this famous game of gambling?

playing poker

Poker for active learning

Many companies spend millions on training employees in order to enhance their business skills. This is done by setting up sessions with well-respected speakers and trainers.

Do you believe the coaching method works 100 percent as it is supposed? It is easy to doubt this. A study by experts found that the majority of participants had gained new knowledge and improved their performance.

Participants felt that these programs were lacking in preparation for the future. This is not surprising, as the idea of being ready for the future is fluid and dynamic.

Most can agree that just attending training sessions and listening to great people speak does not help if you don’t take action.

When you are actively involved in the game, watch people and be aware of the situation, learning takes place. It sounds a lot like a game of cards, isn’t it?

It can teach you a lot.

Poker requires that players observe other poker players, read their hands and make quick decisions.

Isn’t that what people in any kind of lucrative business have to do day in and day out?

Poker and business have many commonalities. Competitive poker involves planning, using statistics, and familiarizing yourself with the various strategies.

There are differences, however. Let us explore how running a business is like playing poker and how it isn’t.


CasinoAlpha article demonstrates that playing cards is a lucrative business.

But it is true that many businesses look like the competitive game of gambling. Both playing cards and managing a successful business are similar. Both require adaptive and constant decision-making. These similitudes are not the only ones.

·         Winning is the goal

Poker and entrepreneurial success is the goal. While some may say they gamble for pleasure, the financial return is still a motivator.

winning goal

Playing without money is not the same as doing business. The underlying structure allows for some analogies to a certain extent.

Gamblers and entrepreneurs are alike in that they both want to maximize their return on their investment, sometimes at the cost of other people. They both use the same strategies, observing opponents to formulate statistically acceptable speculative models and then make the best move according.

·         Ego will take you out of the game

The talk of winning or losing can paint a negative picture of these two sports. Ego hurts business and poker.

winning or losing

From an outsider’s perspective, these two heavily competitive activities seem to be battles between strong characters aiming to dominate one another. Dealing with poker and business requires being diplomatic and willing to compromise for the best outcome.

One more truth: Ego-centric people can be easy to understand. For entrepreneurs and competitive gamblers this is a death sentence. More on “reading” in competitive gambling and business making:

·         You must read “opponents”

You can plan your moves by understanding the poker players’ behavioural patterns. This will help you win more.

You can plan ahead by anticipating what your opponent will do. It often depends on both sustained attention and paying close attention to the details.

It will be a great help to know your opponent’s weaknesses and strengths. Similarly, in business, you need to be aware of your opponent’s moves and stay one step ahead by strategically planning your moves.

In the second case we might use looser terms for our opponents. But, it is not hard to see that entrepreneurialism often involves direct competition. 


You shouldn’t underestimate the commonalities between successful businesses and competitive poker. It is possible for the comparability to fail because of large discrepancies.

·         There are no fixed rules in business

A business is not like a game of poker. There are no pre-agreed rules.

Markets are constantly changing. An outdated approach is no good in today’s market.

You are also required to follow the rules of card games. Cheating could result in your exclusion from the game. With business, it’s quite the contrary. Sometimes you have to challenge the norm. Today’s “going against the rules” may be tomorrow’s revolutionary approach to business making.

This is an example. Collaborating in poker is simply cheating. It is often a good idea to work with others in business as long as they do not violate fair competition rules.

·         Results take longer than a game round

Although there may be many similarities between running a business and playing poker in some ways, there is much to the difference.

It takes time to see results in business. You can see the results of your actions as soon as you turn the cards in a game. While you can instantly tell if a strategy works, it takes time to see the results in business.


The acceptance of strategies changes in poker is greater than other games. It’s even encouraged that players have volatile play styles. A business plan, on the other hand, is much more complex than modelling poker strategies.

A little bit alike, but much more different

Now you know how running a business is like playing poker and how it isn’t. Although entrepreneurial and playing cards are similar in certain aspects, some elements of them differ.

Probably the most valid takeaway is that entrepreneurship  is much more difficult than sitting down at a poker table.

It can be daunting to start a business. This is because it requires a lot of work and results that will take a while. There are some basic guidelines that will help you start your business successfully.

Even though you may not have all the information, competitive gambling games can offer some valuable lessons in decision-making, even when your knowledge is limited. While it is a good tool to help run your business successfully, you should not use poker as an analog.

The post How Running a Business is like Playing Poker, and How it isn’t appeared first on Entrepreneurship Life.

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