Using Poker To Develop Skills For Business, Politics And Life.

In today’s world of economic shift, of reduced barriers to entry and of complex markets – whether its products or services – it’s not about what you sell – it’s about who you sell to.  As you may have heard many times before, “it’s not what you know…it’s who you know!”  In today’s world…Good business is all about great relationships.  If good business is all about relationships, then let’s stop and think about the basic definition of a relationship.

Game Theory and its application to business and Poker

Any relationship is the simple interaction between two people. Within that interaction lies imperfect information. Imperfect information creates uncertainty amongst individuals and teams in business and poker.

Many people say “fine – yeah I get it – game theory is important, but HOW can I implement this and what should I be doing or looking for?”

Pokertronic TELLS
Pokertronic TELLS

The short answer – You have to be watching people, and trying to ascertain:

  • What they say (and of course – what don’t they say)
  • How they say it
  • How they act (consider their body language)
  • Their past actions and how this could affect their future ones
  • Their brand (personal) – and the brand they represent (corporate)
  • Their stake in the deal (desperation – like an open book – should be read!)
  • Their decisions and its impact on your decisions…


Some of the poker “tells” — or changes in behaviour of a person that give clues to their position – which can be adapted to business include pupil dilation due to excitement, covering of the mouth — indicating that the person is not sure what to say — and a person repeating “trust me, I promise, you can trust me”, which could indicate the exact opposite.

  • Pupils in the eyes dilating
  • Great excitement with the possibility of a strong hand or a very strong position in a deal
  • Increased heart beat and shortened breathes
  • Again, great excitement and a “massive” hand or deal
  • Making a lot of noise or being very “strong”

Business example: Inappropriate talking/jabbering or outbursts in meetings

One that can be most telling.  Most people (in business and poker) do not have the ability to bluff and shut up simultaneously! Most of the time, people are  yakking up a storm to drown out the thundering heart beat of fear and uncertainty hammering inside of them.

Strong can be weak, and in this case a lot of noise most likely indicates a weak hand, or a poor position in the deal.

Business interaction and Game Theory

Business interaction is interest to understand what that other person is thinking and more importantly, how this thinking can affect their decision making process – their actions – which in turn are going to have an impact on your actions and decisions. Where these uncertainties exist, strategies are employed to clarify this information.  The understanding of these strategies and the decision making process that defines them, is illustrated through the economic and financial principle of…Game Theory.
“The theory of games is the theory of decision making.”
Game theory is the mathematical and psychological field that shows that the outcome of any problem or negotiation is not so much about the factors that makeup that problem (i.e. the numbers or contracts), but rather a result of the strategies formed by the players or people participating in that problem.

Poker and Game Theory

Game theory can be a complicated principle or art to master.  The Poker Room has developed a world class strategic teaching program designed to educate and illustrate game theory to all participants utilising poker as the tool.

You’re sitting at a poker table, trying to read and think through what the other players hold.  Your decisions are not only based on your situation (your cards) and your personal emotions, but also on the actions, words and potential strategies of the others (given their stake in the game and their cards).

Isn’t this quite similar to a boardroom table, an interview process, or even a quick lunchtime chat with your superiors in the office canteen?  You see game theory applies whenever people interact, whenever deals or negotiations take place – basically wherever there are strategies to adopt, decisions to be had, and most importantly – financial gain to be made.

Remember, as you are watching other people (be it at the poker table or the boardroom table) – trying to ascertain not only what they want, but also trying to figure out what they are doing to get what they want – so they are doing the same to you.  In a game (or a business deal), each participant must assess the extent to which his or her goals match or clash with the goals of the others and then decide whether to cooperate or compete with some or all of them.  It is this blending of participant’s mutual and conflicting interests that makes game theory so fascinating.

It is the ability to learn and hone the above skills of reading people, negotiating and “selling your hand” that positions The Poker Room above anything ever devised for the corporate market.  The objective of this revolutionary concept is to teach participants game theory – and in doing so, to make them better business professionals – through the playing and understanding of the game of poker.

The tangible benefit is the ability for participants to apply, develop and implement these game theoretic skills in their everyday business practises!

Poker Quotes

The commonest mistake in history is underestimating your opponent; it happens at the poker table all the time.
Life, like poker has an element of risk. It shouldn’t be avoided. It should be faced.
Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you is determinism; the way you play it is free will.
“The only difference between a boardroom table and a poker table – is the felt.”