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Lessons in Entrepreneurship from Poker – You're not as good as you think

Posted on:January 6, 2024

One key entrepreneurial lesson from poker is this: Don’t overestimate your abilities. Reflecting on my past, I realized that my proficiency in subjects like math and baseball stemmed not from innate talent but from a genuine interest that spurred me to practice. This led to early successes in academics and sports.

My initial foray into poker began with small games among high school friends. Here, my analytical skills and patience, honed over the years, along with a grasp of basic strategies, allowed me to win more often than not. This misled me into thinking I was skilled at poker. However, the reality check came when I ventured into online poker. The stark difference in skill levels was evident.

Online poker, with its tools for tracking progress, leaves no room for illusion. Every move is recorded, and the results are clear-cut. Poker, in my experience, is the ultimate meritocracy. The role of luck can mislead in the short term, but over time, every decision impacts your financial outcome.

Poker starkly contrasts with business. In business, external factors like connections or team dynamics can heavily influence outcomes. But in poker, it’s just you and the table. Your success hinges entirely on your decisions. This is unlike sports, where external factors like referees or coaches can affect performance. In poker, there’s no escaping the truth about your skills.

To excel in poker, I had to confront and understand my strengths, weaknesses, and limits. This involved dedicated study and practice. Sometimes, I simply wasn’t as good as others, a fact made unmistakably clear by the game. Poker teaches humility by confronting you with your actual level of talent.

This understanding is invaluable for entrepreneurs. It teaches that success isn’t a given and that overestimating one’s abilities is common. Poker’s clear-cut meritocracy highlights the role of luck and the existence of many talented individuals from whom we can learn and draw inspiration.