I read once that if you do not know what you are doing in poker, you can lose with the best hand at the table.
Conversely, if you’re skilled and a little lucky, you can turn the worst hand into a winner. Not always, but often enough to tip the scales in your favor.
What is interesting is how similar that is to business.
We do not choose the hand we are dealt, but we do choose how we play the cards.
Successful people know the rules, take risks after calculating the odds and learn who their opponents are.
Be Tight and Aggressive
In poker, if one played every hand but was too cautious to call a raise, the probabilities are that you will lose. It’s not a good idea to bet on every hand, but when you do, bet aggressively. The same danger of being overly cautious is of being too aggressive.
Business is the same. There is a place for aggression and when you see the need to back down, do so. The time for strong push back may soon arrive.
Know When to Fold
To the same extent, to know when to fold is a necessary survival skill and something that one learns from experience. To make the right decision, valuable information is needed.
What is some of that information?
How much do I stand to lose? How much more do I need to invest to stay in? How much do I stand to win if I stay in? And if I get the right cards? How many cards in the deck can help?
Then an objective calculation of the odds is needed.
A business deal is no different. You need to dispassionately evaluate how much you have invested, how much more needs to be invested, what might work in your favor and then make a decision. Remember also not only to evaluate money but the time and energy that needs to be invested as well.
When does the cost out way the potential benefit or reward?
Know Your Competition
Of course, you need to know your competition or opponent. What is their playing style? How aggressive are they? How do they react in different circumstances? A good poker player and a good business negotiator watches their competition perhaps as much as they watch their own cards.
A realistic assessment of strengths and weaknesses allows you to match yourself against the competition at the poker table as well as in business.
You Cannot Bluff in Business
Unlike in poker where you can win on a bluff and never have to show your cards, in business you have to deliver.
If you deliver as promised, you may be able to choose the game the next time around!