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Lessons in Entrepreneurship from Poker – The Small Edges Matter

Posted on:February 1, 2024

In high-stakes online poker, where you’re trying to outsmart other incredibly sharp players, you quickly realize the importance of little things. Every small decision you make during a hand can add up over thousands or even millions of hands. So you start questioning how to optimize each choice, like whether you’re defending your blinds too much or too little, playing more tables than you can handle, or making the right bet sizes.

Often, it’s not just about the game itself. Factors like creating a distraction-free environment, getting enough sleep, and having food and snacks for breaks matter too. Connectivity is crucial; if your Wi-Fi goes out or your computer lags, you’ll miss hands and lose opportunities to optimize your play.

A good player might average a win rate of around 5 big blinds per 100 hands. If you time out due to connectivity issues or poor planning, you could lose a big blind or two out of those 100. It becomes clear how small edges compound over time, and you naturally start hunting these small edges.

Imagine several players with identical skill levels and strategies – the one who excels in these small optimizations would be the biggest winner at the table.

This concept mirrors life and business success as well. Of course, not all companies do the big obvious things well, and business is far more complex than poker. There’s more incomplete information to deal with in business than in a game where the state is partially known and the rules are defined. Nevertheless, small things still matter.

Consider questions like: do meetings start on time? Did you read that resume before going into an interview? Did you speak up during that awkward moment? Did you acknowledge the efforts of someone who often gets taken for granted? Did you make sure to say thank you, follow up on requests, and jot down answers to questions, so others don’t need to ask them again?

I’m just thinking off the top of my head here, but these little things matter. People are smart, competition is tough, and your company’s edge often depends on whether you’re the ones doing these things while others aren’t. Just as in poker, focusing on optimizing the little things can lead to big wins for your company.