At some point, in order to win a poker tournament, you’re going to need to go “all-in,” risking all your chips on a single hand. Going all-in can be dicey, but when timed properly can result in an enormous payout.
The same is true in business. Committing yourself fully at just the right time can generate huge rewards, but it can also backfire, leaving you with nothing. Whether it’s changing careers or starting your own company after many years of working for large corporations, you’re going all-in, committing your resources, reputation, and sometimes your own money to this new endeavor.
At the poker table, you need to look at all the circumstances: your cards, how aggressive your competitors are, and the number of chips you have left. There’s always a ﬁnancial and often an emotional implication for going all-in. You are literally betting everything; you might lose it all, but you could also go from being the short stack to the chip leader.
We had a PokerDivas student, Nancy, who was offered a very big job. The only hitch was that it was in Seattle and she was living in Connecticut. Nancy agonized over it; it was a great opportunity, but her friends and family were all on the East Coast. She knew precisely one person in Seattle.
It seemed like a huge risk for her. She was happy in her personal life but she was in a rut professionally; a colleague had recently been promoted over her. She was 36, and wondered what would happen if the job didn’t work out, leaving her with no fallback plan and no one there to help her pick up the pieces.
One night, Nancy was playing in a poker tournament and one of her competitors went all-in. She realized that’s what accepting the new job would be: going all-in. Inspired, she decided to stop agonizing and just go for it.
Nancy had gotten into the game of poker because she always wanted to play, but she thought she wouldn’t be good at it. Discovering she could master poker made her realize she could tackle other things in her life that once intimidated her. Now the timing seemed right for a re-invention, and Nancy decided to go all-in.
It turned out that the move to Seattle was a huge stepping stone for her. Her star has been on the rise ever since.
If you want to be the winner, at some point you have to make a move.
You should contemplate going all-in when:
- You’ve calculated the risks and they’re in your favor
If you have strong convictions about something, be it a personal relationship, a business, an investment, etc., you must be willing to take a stand and make your actions speak very loudly.
- You’re afraid you’ll regret not doing it
Sometimes we are resistant to a bold strategy when playing poker or making big life decisions. But sometimes the things we haven’t done become our biggest regrets.
- You’re mentally prepared for any outcome
Sometimes, failure is a necessary option. If it doesn’t work out you can build your stack up again and wait for the next opportunity to go all-in.
- When you have nothing to lose.
Sometimes you wait wait too long and your stack of chips is too low to reach your goals. Ideally you’d never to get to this point, but if you find yourself there, sometimes your only option is to go all in. Learn from that and next time, don’t wait until you’re acting out of desperation versus a strategic plan.
Go all-in at the right time; you can’t win big if you’re not in the game and willing to take bold chances. Make sure you are taking strategic risks with favorable odds as opposed to reckless risks where the odds are against you.
If going all-in doesn’t feel right or come naturally, remember, if it’s a disaster you can usually start over again. In poker, as in life, starting from scratch is never the ideal, but it can be done. If you are going to play a high-stakes game – in poker, in business, in life itself – be bold enough to go all-in should that opportunity arise.