Risk, Reward, Entrepreneurship, and Strategy: Poker Face

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
3 min read

Entrepreneurs can learn a lot by playing poker. Especially the popular version called Texas Hold ’em.

Things like: calculating the odds of success, the percentage of winning when weighing decision options, reading other people and competition, evaluating risk, getting comfortable making informed decisions with incomplete and imperfect information, the value of luck, and the entrepreneur as the X factor.

And how to read a Poker Face. You can learn a lot about human nature by trying to figure out if someone is bluffing or not by noticing changes in their behavior, especially while they are doing their best to conceal any excitement or disappointment behind a flat affect, or poker face.

The Rules of the Game

Texas hold ’em is played like this:

just win baby

Two cards, known as the hole cards, are dealt face down to each player, and then five community cards are dealt face up in three stages.

The stages consist of a series of three cards (“the flop”), then after some betting an additional single card (“the turn” or “fourth street”), and after some more betting, a final card (“the river” or “fifth street”).

Each player seeks the best five card poker hand from any combination of the seven cards of the five community cards and their own two hole cards.

Rounds of betting take place before the flop is dealt and after each subsequent deal. Players have betting options to check, call, raise, or fold.

Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ‘em

A big part of the satisfaction of poker is the cool lingo. But there is also strategy. You develop strategy by reading your opponents, calculating the changing odds, and evaluating risk versus reward.

There are 52 cards in a deck and as the community cards are dealt, the odds can be recalculated of one of the remaining cards being dealt in a subsequent round. How those odds potentially impact the hand of the player relative to the other players, along with the size of the pot, form the basis of formulating strategy in this game.

An example is calculating reverse implied odds:

Reverse implied odds are the opposite of implied odds. With implied odds you estimate how much you expect to win after the draw, but with reverse implied odds you estimate how much you expect to lose if you complete your draw but your opponent still holds a better hand.

Its a great game for gaining facility with calculating odds. But remember you are only estimating the odds because you have incomplete information. You don’t know what other two cards the other players are holding.

Poker also helps develop reading the “tells” of your opponents. A tell in poker is a change in a player’s behavior or demeanor that provide clues to that player’s assessment of their hand. This is part of discerning the Poker Face.

And we should always remain light and playful, so here is the great retro diva-disco tune by Lady Gaga called Poker Face. This will help cement these ideas.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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