Everything I Know About Business I Learned From Poker

Commercial Real Estate Agent with NAI Tampa Bay

dead mans hand



*  Table selection is the most important decision you can make.

*  It's okay to switch tables if you discover it's too hard to win at your table.

*  If there are too many competitors (some irrational or inexperienced), even if you're the best it's a lot        harder to win.


*  Act weak when strong, act strong when weak.

*  Know when to bluff. Your "brand" is important.

*  Help shape the stories that people are telling about you.


*  Always be prepared for the worst possible scenario.

*  The guy who wins the most hands is not the guy who makes the most money in the long run.

*  The guy who never loses a hand is not the guy who makes the most money in the long run.

*  Go for positive expected value, not what's least risky.

*  Make sure your bankroll is large enough for the game you're playing and the risks you're taking.

*  Play only with what you can afford to lose.

*  Remember it's a long term game.

*  You will win or lose individual sessions, but it's what happens in the long term that matters.


*  Don't play games that you don't understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them.

*  Figure out the game when the stakes aren't high.

*  Don't cheat. Cheaters never win in the long run.

*  Stick to your principles. You need to adjust your style of play throughout the night as the dynamics of the game change.

*  Be flexible. Be patient and think long term. The players with the most stamina and focus usually win.

*  Differentiate yourself. Do the opposite of what the rest of the table is doing.

*  Hope is not a good plan.

*  Don't let yourself go "on tilt". It's much more cost effective to take a break, walk around, or leave the game for the night.


*  Educate yourself. Read books and learn from others who have done it before.

*  Learn by doing. Theory is nice, but nothing replaces actual experience.

*  Learn by surrounding yourself with talented players. Just because you win a hand doesn't mean you're good and you don't have more learning to do. You might have just gotten lucky. Don't be afraid to ask for advice.


*  You've gotta love the game. To become really good, you need to live it and sleep it.

*  Don't be cocky. Don't be flashy. There's always someone better than you. Be nice and make friends. It's a small community.

*  Share what you've learned with others.

*  Look for opportunities beyond just the game you sat down to play. You never know who you're going to meet, including new friends for life or new business contacts.

*  Have fun. The game is a lot more enjoyable when you're trying to do more than just make money.


Certainly a unique view of business.  I have seen this idea quite a few times, but of the numerous versions this Zappo's version was my favorite by far.  Thanks to Tony H, for the Poker Lessons. 

Comments (7)

Kim Sellers
Lake Arrowhead, CA Coldwell Banker - Lake Arrowhead, CA
Lake Arrowhead Realtor - BRE#01412099 - Lake Arrow

Well said... being the sleeping Lion sometimes is best.  I am very good at poker and I was laughing because I use this anology a lot...

Dec 28, 2008 08:32 AM
Bridget Fredericks
Home After Home - Baton Rouge, LA

I just love this. I am a poker player myself and I'm always telling people how similar poker is to real estate.  It's also about people-reading.  Reading people in poker helps you figure out when you're being had.  Reading-people in real estate helps you figure out when your client has just walked into a house they love.

Dec 28, 2008 08:41 AM
Tony & Darcy Cannon
Aubrey and Associates Realty - Layton, UT
The C Team

Sean, great analogy!  I love the points that you included!  Thanks for the post!

Dec 28, 2008 09:06 AM
Gail Szeluga & JoAnna Siminerio
Weichert Realtors - Manalapan - Marlboro - Manalapan, NJ
Fostering Community Spirit Through Real Estate

I think all poker players will love this post!

Sooooooooooooo well done!

Dec 28, 2008 10:46 AM
Raymond E. Foster

Yes, a great analogy for business and leadership.  We used it in our book on leadership which published last year - more information at www.pokerleadership.com

Dec 28, 2008 06:10 PM
Joe Spake
InCity Realty - Memphis, TN
Midtown, Downtown, East Memphis Specialist


I couldn't resist adding what I learned from Kenny Rogers:

Know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away

Know when to run.
Don't count your money while you're sitting at the table.
There'll be time enough for counting when the dealings done.

Dec 29, 2008 12:20 AM
Svetlana Stolyarova
Local-n-Global Realty, Cleveland and International Real Estate Solution - Mayfield Heights, OH
Local-n-Global Realty, Broker 216-548-4663

Sean - great list! I love your Evaluating marketing opportunities part.

Dec 29, 2008 03:12 AM

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?