Double Your Growth: 13 Poker Skills Every Start-Up Should Be Using

By Henry Reith, - In Leadership

picture of Greg Dinkin who is a poker skills master sharing his knowledge on how this can help start-ups

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Few successful entrepreneurs and businesses can afford to rest on their laurels – winning once is not enough to sustain or grow a business. Like the best athletes out there, you have to beat your personal best, time after time after time. That’s how real growth happens; it’s not luck. Yes, there might be times when a new customer unexpectedly walks through the door and places a big order but these rare one-offs can’t be predicted or relied on to power business on a day to day basis.

Getting Better At What You Do

So the next question to ask your team is “how can we get better at what we do?” The answer is simple: change something. Because changing nothing, doesn’t change anything. You can’t expect yourself or your team to get better results without understanding where they stand now, where they need to get to and then empowering them to get there. Skills and the right mental attitude, like money, doesn’t grow on trees. They have to be cultivated, nurtured and inspired.

There are plenty of formal training courses and team building exercises out there to choose from. Whichever course you take there’s always the risk that while it might add knowledge and produce a feel-good effect, it won’t last. Knowledge can be forgotten. Feelings fade. That’s not an argument for not doing those things, on the contrary, as the saying goes, practise makes perfect.

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Where To Start

When you want to achieve very ambitious targets, it’s worth considering doing something out of the ordinary, or looking at the situation from a very different perspective; look for answers in places you wouldn’t normally know, or think, to look.

One such place is looking at the most successful poker players. No, we’re not about to suggest you send your team to the casino. We’re saying there’s a reason the world’s top poker players get to where they are. They have something, just like the most successful entrepreneurs, the rest of us don’t. Or if we do have it, it’s less well developed or not being applied to the same extent. If we could only learn their secrets and apply them to our business endeavours, we might all be a little better off!

The Right Skills to Acquire

So what is it they have? It’s not rocket science that’s for sure. It’s a very particular attitude and a set of skills that are very sharply focussed on preparation, rational decisions and keeping cool. In fact, there are a full 13 winning traits they have the rest of us don’t. The best bit of news though is these skills aren’t exclusive or restricted to poker players. Anyone can learn and apply them to great effect in almost any area of life. There’s no magic, no witchcraft or voodoo.

Greg Dinkin should know. As a winner of more than $100,000 at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, a TEDx speaker, author of four books, and highly respected decisions coach, he has watched, learned and developed these skills himself.

Poker Skills Every Start-Up Needs

So what are these 13 traits?

  1. Winners are considerate and walk in the shoes of others
  2. Winners think “win-win.”
  3. Winners think “it depends” rather than rely on rules
  4. Winners chose the right game and were market-driven rather than ego-driven
  5. Winners pay attention and can identify “tells.”
  6. Winners think several moves ahead while anticipating their opponents’ actions
  7. Winners are forward thinking, recognize sunk costs, and take small losses
  8. Winners master the inexact science of measuring expected value
  9. Winners start from a position of strength by playing at the right stakes
  10. Winners have tools to deal with emotion and manage tilt
  11. Winners are selective, aggressive, and plug leaks
  12. Winners know when to keep their cards close to the vest
  13. Winners are life-long learners

It wouldn’t take you long to tick off pretty much all of those when thinking about a world-class poker player like Daniel Negreanu or business mogul Richard Branson. They’re shrewd decision makers with a positive attitude that enables them to bounce back and learn from their losses, mistakes and sometimes even failings. When the cards aren’t in their favour, they don’t quit either. They stay cool, calm and collected.


By understanding the mindset and skills of world-class poker players, you and your team could become better at business and achieve better results. And if you’re already a first-class entrepreneur, you might have just discovered you’d be a first-class poker player too!

For anyone interested in learning from the best of the best, and how to apply their skills to win in business and life, have a look at “All In” – the short and free ebook (Henry approved, worth the time to read) written by Greg and PokerStars Casino – which talks about these 13 traits in more detail.


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