Business Skills You Can Learn from Playing Poker


Learning new skills can be done in a variety of ways. You can actively concentrate on developing a specific one, or passively acquire them as a result of doing something else. Often the two things happen at the same time; for example, while drilling football skills you are also learning how to work as a team, how to communicate, how to take turns etc. These skills, which are often known as soft skills, and they are very important to master in order to be successful, both in life and at work.

We learn most effectively when the activity is enjoyable, and when we are able to practise our skills rather than just learn them from a book. Poker is a great way to have fun and sharpen some important transferable skills in the process. Playing with friends or strangers, online or in a casino, there are lots of different things poker can teach you which can be applied in everyday life, like good financial management and patience.


Soft Skills at Work

Soft skills are hugely important in business because they teach you how to navigate the office surroundings, negotiate effectively, and solve problems independently. It’s not about knowing the answers but knowing how to find the solutions you don’t already have. That might need you to communicate with others, delegate processes, think outside the box, or know when it’s time to give in.


Poker Skills you can use in Business

Knowing that a flush beats a pair isn’t very useful in the boardroom, but being able to spot when someone is bluffing is. Here’s a look at some of the business skills that smallbusiness.wa recommends that poker can also teach you:


Bankroll management

Being successful at poker is as much to do with managing your chips as it is playing the cards. Bet too much too early and you risk being sunk by one bad hand, but don’t bet enough and you’ll only win small, risking getting left behind by the bigger players. Poker teaches you how to manage your cash flow and helps you recognise when is the time to take a calculated risk.

Poker is a very mathematical game, based on percentages and probabilities. You need to be able to analyse the spread of cards and work out whether it’s more likely that you or your opponents will get the cards you need to win. Why not practise online at 888 Poker where you can use odds calculators to work out which hand is most likely to win?



Poker is not a game of speed. Rounds last hours, and you might have several successive hands which aren’t worth playing. Good players develop the patience to sit out as many hands as needed until they get the cards worth playing, whilst bad players just want to be involved and try and play worthless cards.

In business, playing the waiting game isn’t the most exciting option, but it can be worth it to wait for the right opportunity to come along. Whether that’s a project that only you can handle, the right promotion, or knowing when to launch a new product, good timing can be the difference between success and failure.


Social Skills

The business world is all about people; co-workers, clients, customers, investors, shareholders, and more. You need to know how to communicate effectively with them, but also how to read between the lines. Poker teaches you how to read people better than anything. In order to get an edge over your competition you are constantly analysing opponents to try and find their strengths, weaknesses, and see if you can spot the tells that mean they are hiding something.



Poker isn’t a game where you can sit down and win every time, no matter how good you are. The cards you and your opponents are dealt are outside of your control; sometimes the best move is to fold and take a small loss rather than try and turn a bad hand into a win. Poker teaches you that it’s ok to fail, lose, or back out; you can always try again with the next hand.

In business you will be presented with many opportunities; some will pass you by, some you will try and fail to take, others will be taken from you. If you don’t pick yourself up and keep going after each set back, you’ll never get anywhere. Being resilient is a very important skill which not everyone has, and it can be the difference between making or breaking in business.


Don’t Chase Losses

It can be disheartening to lose hand after hand after hand, and inexperienced players are often tempted to place bigger bets after a loss, thinking that when they win they will have recouped the money they lost. What usually happens is they lose again keep increasing bets, waiting for that final win which will see them break even.

Pouring good money after bad is never a good business strategy. However tempting it is to keep going with a project because of what has already been invested, remember that adding more won’t make a success of something that isn’t working.



Graduates fresh out of business school think they have all the answers, but more often than not the skills needed to succeed are learnt from other avenues. Usnews states experience in the job is valuable, it will give you the best education and a skillset you need to succeed. But many of these can also be picked up and practised elsewhere, like at the poker table. Playing poker is a fun way to sharpen skills like money management, patience, and communication while also enjoying yourself, and if you’re lucky, making a bit of extra cash.


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