Business and Poker


Tony Hsieh is one of the most important business leaders of our time, in his book Delivering Happiness he explain how Zappos is built on branding, culture and pipeline as the only competitive advantage that Zappos will have in the long run.

In the chapter 3 of the book, Tony clearly defines the lessons he learnt from playing poker and that can be applied to business:

Evaluating Market Opportunities

  • Table selection is the most important decision you can make
  • It’s okay to switch tables if you discover is too hard to win at you table
  • If there are too many competitors (some irrational or inexperienced), even if you are the best it’s a lot harder to win

Marketing and branding:

  • Act weak when strong, act strong when weak. Know when to bluff
  • Your “hand is important”
  • Help shape the stories that people are telling about you

Financial management

  • Always be prepared for the worst possible scenario
  • The guys who wins the most hands is not the guy who makes the most money in the long run
  • The guy who never losses a hand is not the guy who makes the most money in the long run
  • Go for positive expected value, not for what’s least risky
  • Make sure your bankroll is large enough for the game you are playing and the risks are you taking
  • Play only with what you can afford to lose
  • Remember that is a long-term game. you will win or lose individual hand or sessions, but is what happens in the long-term that matters

Strategy

  • Don’t play games that you do not understand, even if you see lots of people making money from them
  • Figure out the game when the stakes aren’t high
  • Don’t cheat. Cheaters never win in the long run
  • Stick to your principles
  • You need to adjust your style of play throughout the night as the dynamics of the game change. Be flexible.
  • Be patient and think in the long-term
  • The players with more stamina and focus usually win
  • Differentiate yourself. Do the opposite of what the rest of the table is doing.
  • Hope is not a good plan
  • Don’t let yourself go “on tilt”. It’s much more cost-effective to take a break, walk around or leave the game for the night

Continual learning

  • Educate yourself. Read books and learn from others that have done it before
  • Learn by doing. Theory is nice, but nothing replaces actual experience
  • Learn by surrounding yourself with talented players
  • Just because you win a hand doesn’t mean you are good and you do not have more learning to do. You might have just gotten lucky.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for advise

Culture

  • You have to love the game. To become very good you need to live it and sleep it.
  • Don’t be cocky. Don’t be flashy. there is always someone better than you
  • Be nice and make friends. It’s a small community
  • Learn what you have learnt with others
  • Look for opportunities just beyond the game you sat down to play. You never know who you are going to meet, including friends for life or new business contacts
  • Have fun. The game is a lot more enjoyable when you are trying to do more than just make money

Read more, not only from business but happiness: Tony Hsieh. “Dilivering Happiness a path to profits, passion and purpose” Business Plus

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