How Entrepreneurs are like Professional Poker Players

By Ella Wilson

business development

Have you ever met a really good poker player? They’re sort of amazing to watch. Decisive, methodical, they really do “know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em” (Thanks Kenny Rogers).

Successful entrepreneurs are a lot like professional poker players. They have to make quick decisions, analyze risk, see when their competitors have a good hand (and also know when they’re bluffing). I read a blog from Entrepreneur magazine recently that pointed out the similarities between the two, and I wanted to share some of the article’s insights with you and add in some of my own, too. You can read the original article at

Professional poker players live to fight another day

Poker players know they’re not going to win every hand. That’s impossible. But do they go home and cry in their pillows after every loss? Nope. Not the successful ones, anyway.

Successful entrepreneurs are the same way. They know they’re going to hit roadblocks and setbacks along the way. A successful entrepreneur knows how to minimize losses and learn from mistakes to come back with a winning hand tomorrow.

Only play the hands you can win

Professional poker players fold more hands than they play. Why? Because the term “professional” means you’re supposed to be making money. And not every good idea is a winning hand. Entrepreneurs will minimize their losses and their heartache by only choosing to play hands they’re pretty sure they will win.

Learn by doing

Becoming a professional, whether in the business world or as a poker player, involves practice, innovation and flexibility. It takes most people years to get proficient at their chosen profession. A great business development coach can mentor entrepreneurs who have plenty of passion but not as much experience as they need.

Playing poker is playing people, not cards

A lot of playing poker is playing people, not cards. Professional pokers players watch their opponents to see how they play, looking to see when they bluff, how they bet, etc. Only by having insight into the other players’ styles will a poker player have an idea of how their hand compares to the others.

Successful entrepreneurs are the same way. They are masters of dealing with people: who to hire, how to market, how to manage staff. Successful entrepreneurs are good at dealing with people, and if they’re not, they learn to be through research, trial and error.

Don’t go “all in” without knowing the facts

That’s the big moment: somebody goes in. Risking it all is exciting (or terrifying). But it’s not as risky as you might think. Before professional poker players go all in, they have carefully studied their opponents’ playing styles. Nobody goes all in unless they truly think they’re either going to win the hand or force everyone else to fold.

Smart entrepreneurs are the same way. They take risks, but they’re not reckless. Knowing which chances are worth taking is imperative to long-term success and growth.

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About Ella Wilson

Ella WilsonElla Wilson is GetUWired’s “Queen of Words.” This world-class marketing copywriter is a former journalist and travel writer who’s spent the last decade weaving gripping tales for publications coast to coast. She’s got her finger on the pulse of today’s marketing trends. Notable clients who have been graced with her powerful prose include FUBU founder and Shark Tank star Daymond John, self-help star and Emmy-award winner Rhonda Britten, and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Daniel Amen.

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