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Business Leaders Who Credit Poker For Their Success

Business Leaders Who Credit Poker For Their Success

There are plenty of businesses out there, but only a few are able to succeed. Matt Sweetwood points out that for each business success story, there are hundreds or even thousands of stories about entrepreneurs who aspired to produce great results but failed in the end. One factor that makes or breaks these businesses is the leader, as these professionals plan and oversee the entire organization’s operation. While some people have natural leadership skills, many entrepreneurs must work hard to develop their knowledge, confidence, and skills in running a business. Fortunately, the best lessons for success can come from the most surprising sources — one of them being the art of poker.

In poker, players are accustomed to high stakes and constant high-pressure situations in competitions. To stay in the game, analytical skills, patience, and stamina are required — much like in business! Many business leaders have come from a background in poker, and in this article, we will review some of the greatest successes.

Paul Klanschek

The CEO of Bitpanda, Paul Klanschek, actually started out playing professional poker to finance his studies and earn a master’s degree. It was to everyone’s surprise — his, most of all — that seven years later, he and fellow poker-player-now-co-founder Eric Demuth would own Austria’s first and only startup valued at over a billion dollars.

Klanschek openly credits poker for his success and claims it’s because the game is just like mathematics. He says it’s like “looking at the data and figuring out the best move,” and he’s applied this principle in his cryptocurrency investment platform, Bitpanda. Klanschek has stayed ahead of the game by maximizing data analysis in both business and poker, and it’s clear he’s reaping the benefits now.

Doug Polk

On the other side of the coin — or chip, rather — we have Doug Polk, who dropped out of college to pursue poker full-time. Having won three WSOP gold bracelets, Doug Polk is a big name in poker with an estimated net worth of $10 million. However, he credits his earnings away from the sport as the real accomplishments in his career. He currently owns three businesses: CoinCentral, Upswing Poker, and The Lodge Poker Club.

Though he achieved success, his journey can look reckless from an outsider’s perspective. He’s certainly made mistakes along the way and claimed in an interview that “You’re always going to make mistakes in poker.” However, Polk learns from his mistakes and calculates every move he has made since pursuing poker full-time, from strategizing every move on the table and investing in his businesses. As a result, this keen determination hasn’t stopped him from reaching the top of his chosen fields.

Chamath Palihapitiya

A big name in Silicon Valley as well as the poker community, Chamath Palihapitiya is the founder of Social Capital, a venture capital firm. He’s already made a name for himself by playing in several WSOP tournaments, and today hosts high-stakes games at home with other leading tech entrepreneurs.

Palihapitiya echoes Polk’s comments when it comes to taking calculated risks. He quit a well-paying job and joined Facebook when it had only been operating for three years. Palihapitiya cites his background in poker as having taught him to make quick decisions and transform risks into opportunities. By the time he left Facebook to pursue Social Capital, the social network had 700 million active users.

Jason Calacanis

Inside.com and Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis first played in the WSOP in 2009, and his obsession with poker hasn’t died down since. “I think of my company as my chip stack,” he said, combining the principle of risk-taking with investments. Calacanis is known as a “bulldog”, cutting through the bulls in the industry with a constant drive for both business and poker.

When you’re new to the game, you start at the lowest-stakes poker table to learn the basics at low risk. Calacanis supplements this lesson with a business tip: when you’re new to the industry, only invest in startups that have already gotten their product to market. Otherwise, you risk falling into the trap of being okay with losing all the time as he once did.

You can find business inspiration in the most unlikely places. Many of these leaders didn’t know where they would end up while playing poker, but with a keen eye, they could translate a passion into legendary business success.

Business Leaders Who Credit Poker For Their Success

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