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Put your poker face on, play to win

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Poker is back in vogue, and not just among middle-age men. As many as 80 million Americans now play the deceptively simple card game of strategy, cunning and luck.

Only in poker can the player with the least skill, money and experience win. Poker and business, that is. That’s because both rely so heavily on bluffing.

In both, reading your opponents’ tiniest emotional cues while hiding your own is key, says nine-time poker world champion Phil Hellmuth Jr. “That’s huge in poker, and it’s huge in business,” he says.

Apply these Hellmuth poker strategies at work:
  • Bluff whenever it will work, not just when you’re dealt a bad hand. Steve Case bluffed Time Warner into forking over $99 billion for 30 million dial-up Internet users.
  • Stay quiet when you’ve got a winning hand. PeopleSoft’s CEO kept his head down while the courts dealt with a hostile bid for his company.
  • Fold with a strong hand when you have to. Stick to your guns when bidding low on overpriced goods.
  • Call with a weak hand. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos “called” investors for a $1.25 billion debt offering even as his company was drowning in red ink.
  • Stay patient. One species of smart company lets innovators bring a new product to market, then jumps in with a cheaper knockoff. Wait for your moment.
— Adapted from “The B in Business Stands for Bluff,” Carleen Hawn, Fast Company.

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