We hear all the time that the key to succeeding in any pursuit is practice. But, where can women practice their business skills in an risk-free environment? Outside of the classroom, probably nowhere. Any business skills “practice” you get while you are employed can have real costs to your career if you misjudge or misplay a situation. But, what if there was a place where you could practice business skills, make mistakes without consequences to your career, learn what works and what does, and develop your own personal style? There is. It’s the poker table. Now, we’re not talking about the poker table at the casino; you’ve got to put your own money at risk there. We’re talking about the POKERprimaDIVAS approach where the poker table is a training tool. We use the fun (yes, fun!) of poker as a way to analyze, improve, and practice business skills like “reading” others, negotiating, bluffing, dealing with bullies, recovering from loss, and playing to win. No risk, all reward.
Top 12 Poker Skills that Will Help You in Business
Poker will teach you how to how to negotiate your way into or out-of anything, increase your power and confidence, read and interpret non-verbal cues, become more bold and assertive, manage risk and recover from loss, and escape out of your comfort zone. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. ACTING ASSERTIVELY AND STRATEGICALLY. Figure out what you want, develop a game plan to get you there, and CHARGE AHEAD. Learn to be focused on your goals and fearless in your pursuit.
2. READING NON-VERBAL CUES. Pay attention to non-verbal cues or ‘tells’, the actions and mannerisms that help you get a read on a competitor.
3. PERFECTING YOUR POKER FACE. A pair of sunglasses may help you at the poker table, but at the board room table you need to learn to keep your cool no matter how the cards fall. Practice keeping your emotions off your face.
4. PLAYING TO WIN INSTEAD OF PLAYING NOT TO LOSE. Women typically play to protect what they have while men go ‘all-in’, risking their stack to win the whole pot. Don’t be afraid to project the bravado and confidence to get what you want and deserve.
5. KNOWING WHO AND WHEN TO BLUFF. You don’t need the best hand to win, you just need for people to THINK you have the best hand. Focus on playing the people at the table and not just the cards in your hands.
6. DEALING WITH A BULLY. A bully is someone that plays too aggressively. The best way to win against a bully is to make them pay for their reckless behavior. Bullies are often big bluffers, so push back when it makes sense and call them on their bets. Wait until you have the upper hand, and then play to win.
7. SECURING THE UPPER HAND IN NEGOTIATIONS. A weak player in a strong position has an advantage over a strong player in a weak position. The last to act or talk has the advantage of knowing what the other person wants before they begin to negotiate. Learn to play your position.
8. RECOVERING QUICKLY FROM A LOSS. Not every hand is a winner. It is possible to do everything right and still lose. Going on ’tilt’, or being overly emotional about your loss, will hurt your ability to move on to the next opportunity. Don’t let your emotions undermine your intelligence. There’s always another hand.
9. TAKING CALCULATED RISKS WITH CONFIDENCE. The word ‘risk’ often evokes a negative connotation but it is also what allows you the chance of hitting a big win. No matter what the outcome, you’ll gain courage just by making the attempt. Embrace taking the lead. Be the bettor, not the caller.
10. TUNING IN AND TRUSTING YOUR INTUITION. The facts are important, but don’t ignore your gut. Women have good intuition. Use it!
11. MAKING THE MOST OF THE HAND YOU HAVE BEEN DEALT. 80% of the time you will not get good cards, so play the people and your position. If the cards are not on your side, learn to walk away. If you’re on a lucky streak, play it hard.
12. FORCING COMPETITORS TO PAY TO PLAY. Don’t give anyone a free card. Make the cost of entry high enough so your competitors have to think twice about playing in your game.
How Poker can Fast Track Your Job Search
If you or your friends are looking for a new job or trying to upgrade the one you have, see what POKERprimaDIVAS CEO Ellen Leikind has to say about how the principles of poker can help you get what you are looking for.
Q: It’s a tough job market out there and people are either looking to find something new or upgrade what they have. How can Poker help you in this very tight Job market? A: There are many valuable career boosting lessons based on principles learned at the poker table even if you have never played a game of cards. Poker rewards initiative, assertiveness, fearlessness and calculated risk taking all of which are needed for a successful job hunt. Real life stories in my book PokerWoman illustrate how poker has helped many women in business.
Q: What is the first thing you would tell women when looking for the right job? A: The first thing I would say to them is stop betting like a girl. This is not meant as a slight to women but they need to bold and take risk and play to win as opposed to avoid losing. They need to project more bravado and confidence and not be modest when it comes to selling their capabilities.
Q: What is the most important skill in getting ready for the job interview? A: You can stack the deck in your favor by researching the company and people you want to work for. Poker Players are always sizing up the players at the table so they can play the right way against the right people. You need to know a companies objectives, products and financial situation before you walk in the door. And try to also find out something about the person interviewing you. With Google, Facebook and LinkedIn you can learn a lot. Be smart and be prepared.
Q: Once you are in the interview what is an important for the interviewee to be aware of? A: Pay attention to non-verbal cues or “tells” during the interview both yours and the interviewer. Poker players are always looking for tells, to help get a read on another player. You have to pay attention to the cues you project. Do you make eye contact and sit up straight to project confidence or are your eyes down and hands fumbling projecting fear or lack of interest. On the other side of the coin, pay attention to the person interviewing you. If they look distracted or bored you need to look for ways to re-engage their interest. Women have good intuition in this area use it.
Q: What is the best way to bluff in an interview? A: You need to be careful here. In a poker game you are expected to be deceptive but in a business situation your reputation is on the line. There is a big difference between a little embellishment and a total lie. If you have done something and are 70% proficient at it and know you can learn the rest it is fine to say you are good at it. But if you have never has any exposure to finance before don’t pretend you are an accountant. Remember if you are called on a bluff which is an out and out lie you have a lot to lose.
Q: What is the best way to put on a Poker face in an interview? A: Save your poker face for after you have gotten the job offer. You need to be enthusiastic and animated during an interview to convey interest. Once you have an offer and are negotiating salary or benefits then use your pokerface to try to up the ante and get a better deal. The first offer is rarely the best offer they will give.
Q: What happens if you don’t get the job or interview you expected? A: Remember not every hand is a winner. You are not going to get every interview or job offer even if you are the most qualified. In fact sometimes in life as in poker you do everything right and still lose. Make sure you do not let what poker player’s call a “bad beat” ruin the rest of your hands or job interviews to come. Going on tilt, or being overly emotional about your loss will hurt your ability to go on to the next opportunity. There’s always another hand or interview. Compose yourself and go on to the next. Don’t let your emotions undermine your intelligence.
Q: But it seems like I just keep losing one after the other. A: There is a great poker story in PokerWoman about a man name Jack Strauss. He was playing in the 1982 World series of poker and thought he had gone “all in ” and put all his chips in the pot during a hand. He lost the hand and thought he was out of the tournament but when he got up to leave it turned out he had 1 chip left. He went on to win that tournament. Out of that experience came the expression “all you need is a chip and a chair’ Keep motivated, keep playing and stay in the game and you will land something good.
Q: What can I do if I have a job but I am very unhappy and need to find something better. A: It’s a tough economy out there but sometimes you have to have to know when to fold’em. Getting out of a bad job is sometimes a necessary evil in helping you preserve your sanity. Yes it is a risk but sometimes you need to take a risk to up your odds for a long term win. Best to look for the job while you are still working but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and acknowledge that it is time to move on to the next game.
Q: Anything else we can learn from the principles at the poker table. A: In poker and in life the prizes go to the bold. Be confident, have no fear show some bravado and bet on your self to become a winner.
How To Apply The Skills You Pick Up At The Poker Table To Managing Or Improving Your Personal Finances
Understand the “risk versus reward” relationship
Poker players learn “pot odds” to help evaluate the risk versus reward of being in a hand. A good poker player knows it is better to risk $20 to win a $200 pot (10:1 pot odds) then $50 to win a $100 pot (2:1 post odds) . You need to know the upside and downside of each investment and understand the likely payout. Is calling a bet or making an investment worth the risk based on the size and probability of the return of the needed investment?
Have patience and be disciplined
Good poker players only play 20% of the hands they are dealt. Cards need to be played selectively. You have to wait for the right opportunity. Investments are the same way. Do some research and be selective and don’t be in a rush to get into the latest “hot” deal. Put your money in with the right opportunity.
Learn how to survive through money swings
In a poker game you can go from the chip leader to the short stack in a matter of one hand. You have to keep playing your game and not get frustrated or nervous or make any irrational decisions (otherwise known as going on “tilt”) until you build your chips stack back up again. Investing can be unpredictable especially in the stock market and real estate. You have to be able to survive the market ups and downs both financially and emotionally.
Don’t gamble or spend more than you have to lose
Beginner poker players usually play at the small stakes table until they learn the rules and nuances of the game. The more they play the better they get and as they get better they play for higher stakes. If you are just starting to invest start with small stakes. Get comfortable and be consistent. You won’t get rich (in most cases) overnight in poker or in the market.
Set your budget upfront
When you enter a poker game, you buy-in for a specific amount. If you lose your cash it is advisable to end that poker session until you can build up your bank roll again. If you have a budget of $100 to spend on shoes, don’t buy Jimmy Choo’s until you can afford them without going into debt.
Know when to get out
Sometimes you bet like crazy because you think you have the best hand, but as the cards come out you realize someone else has you beat. You may have a lot of money in the pot already but you need to know when to stop throwing good money after bad. Sometimes you will invest in something you thought was a sure winner only to later realize you have a dud. Get out before you lose it all. Don’t worry about having made a mistake, just learn from it.
Don’t be fooled by slick “trash talk”
In poker they call it trash talking when a player tries to say things to throw you off your game. They may be really nice to get you to trust them or try to intimidate you to stay in a hand you are probably losing. The same can be true of brokers and investment advisors. Don’t take everything they say at face value. Do your homework and make sure you know who you are giving your money to. If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. Find someone else.
Get in the game
Walk into a casino poker room and you will not see very many women at the poker table. The ratio of men to women is probably 20:1 (take note single women!) You need to learn to play so you can get into the game and make some money. It might be fear or lack of knowledge that keep women from learning poker or investing. Do some homework, ask people you know, hire an advisor, take some small steps, but learn how to invest so you can be in the game.
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