5 Useful Poker & Leadership Strategies

Aces Raise One on One Coaching Photo 4 JPG 
1. Control your emotions, and think long term
Short-sighted decision making can have unintended consequences. Say for example that you’re in customer service and a customer says something that irritates you. If you react without thinking, you could snap back, blow up, or say something that you regret. That split second when you lost it could cost you business, a promotion, or your job depending on the severity. Considering the consequences of emotional actions, it’s important to plan and think ahead.
The response of the customer service representative may be considered an outburst, in poker we call someone who has lost control of their emotions going on tilt. At this point, the player is not making sound decisions that are supported by logic. In order to get back on your A-game, you must recognize how you feel once you’re triggered and practice reacting like you are unphased. It may be hard to bite your tongue sometimes, but if you can turn these negative situations into practice remaining mentally tough and taking the high road, you’ll be a winner.
Moving forward you may be able to learn from this situation, and avoid it if you can in the future. If it’s inevitable, then turn it into a game and don’t let someone else take you off yours. At the poker table, we face bets that could be good hands or bluff. We get raised when we think we’re good, and then get uncertain. We’re forced to call big bets with hands you’d fold against some opponents. But you’re looking at the guy across the table, and you make the tough call because you think you get him beat… and you were right.
2. Understand your competition, and adjust accordingly
It’s hard to maneuver yourself and strategize if you don’t know who and what you’re up against. In football and other sports, the term is called “game planning”, where a team adjusts their strategy in order to exploit weaknesses or neutralize strengths of whoever they’re playing. If you have to have a tough conversation with someone, being able to empathize and deliver your message in a way they understand is an important skill.
In poker, every decision you make is based solely on what your opponents have, and what you think they’ll do with what they have. There are common player types in poker, much like common personality and behavioral assessments used in the workplace, and by law enforcement. Players have certain tendencies with how they bet, what they play, how they value hands, etc.
If you pay attention to what other players at the table are doing, you can properly adjust your style in order to maximize value and minimize losses. You can use certain information to make better decisions than your opponents. A typical good strategy in poker is to understand what your opponent is doing, and then do the opposite. If you play good hands, aggressively in position, and adjust to your opponents, you will stand a good chance to win.
3. Assess risk and value, pick spots with positive expected outcomes
Based on our past experiences and how we were raised, we have different ideas about money, value, and risk. Everyday we have lots of little choices and decisions to make. Way more than we realize because much of what we do is habit, unconscious, and part of our routine. What is more risky, staying home and sleeping in bed all day or getting in the car and driving an hour to work.
Clearly driving to work is more risky because you bring into the equation the possibility of an accident. Additionally, staying at home has adverse affects as we discussed above with long term thinking, that skipping work could land you in some trouble. So although staying in bed all day sounds nice, and driving to work could result in an accident, the value of keeping the job and getting paid outweighs the risk.
Another example of this would be getting on an airplane. Although there is a very small chance of a crash, by getting on the plane you are accepting risk. We do that because we asses the destination vacation spot we’re heading towards to be worth it. At the poker table, we’re faced with bets that we need to determine whether or not to call. Good poker players need to be able to calculate pot odds and decide is the risk is worth the reward.
4. Develop your brand and image, use it to your advantage
Whether you’re a large company or a one man shop, your brand or public perception is extremely important. Being raised outside of Washington D.C., the politicking and supporting of certain issues is a good example. Congressmen are labeled as Democrat, Republican, or other. Some stand firm behind certain social issues, and others have big mega corporations in mind.
Actors and actresses also play a role off the camera. They have a certain perception to keep up and portray. There was a commercial with this hardcore rock band that brought their golf clubs through airport security. Their manager comes into their room furious with them because he didn’t want their fans to think they were too soft.
At the poker table, just as we’re trying to figure out what other people are doing, our opponents are sizing us up too. Well, some of them are. Be conscientious of how our actions, comments, and demeanor is being perceived by your opponents. If you’ve only showdown really strong hands, then people will believe you have it and you can bluff successfully with more frequency.
5. Remain focused on your objective, but approach it with flexibility
Having a clear goal and plan for what you want to do is good, but it’s incomplete. There is a famous saying that your plan is perfect until you step foot on the battlefield. In other words, current conditions change that may affect your plan to be executed as is. You need to leave in wiggle room or contingencies in order to best tackle whatever it is you’re up against.
If you’ve ever planned an event, you know there are going to be things day of that were not as they were drawn up. Someone may not show up, you’re having trouble with technology, there are more people than you expected. In any of these situations, you’re faced with a challenge. Based on the constraints of time and resources, and the objective you’re trying to achieve, you make the best possible decision and move forward.
In poker, this is also an important lesson. The best hand you can be dealt is pocket aces. You love your hand preflop and love that some really tight player called your raise. The flop comes down with three hearts, J-Q-K. Your opponents then shoves all his chips in the middle and all you have is a single pair. Assuming we don’t hold the ace of hearts, we don’t love our hand anymore. This one great hand now needs to find itself in the muck, we fold.