It may be unusual to take business advice from a poker player, but in reality, business and poker involve a lot of the same dilemmas. Taking risks, betting against the odds, knowing when to go big or go home, and fighting through lean spells are characteristics associated with both professional poker and running a business.
Forbes spoke to Anne Duke, a professional poker player who has achieved a high level of success, about why so many businessmen and women make bad decisions. Duke is said to be one of the highest earning women in poker history. Along with achieving great success at tournaments, she managed to navigate the male dominated world of poker without any problems. Here is what she had to say about decision making in poker and business.
Duke believes that the biggest reason for people failing, both in poker and in business, is because they stagnate. Instead of improving their decision making, they fall into the trap of making the same mistakes for continuous years. The reason for this, according to her, is that they rate their actions based on what happens.
For example, if a player takes a huge risk near the end of a poker game and wins, they will think of it as a great decision. In reality, they may simply have gotten lucky, and should not be taking such crazy risks in the future. Similarly, a businessman will only judge his actions based on the year’s balance sheet, instead of evoking a deeper analysis.
Duke believes that for poker players and business men or women, analyzing why an event took place is more important than focusing on the result. If Duke ever lost a game because her opponent came up with two high cards, she would not complain about bad luck. She would evaluate the entire series of hands, conclude why the outcome went against her, and then decide if her decisions were correct.
She believes that if someone wants to be successful in business over the long term, they must create a system of evaluating their decisions. Only by assessing WHY something happened can a businessman ensure they do not repeat the same mistakes.
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