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7 Ways to Bring Poker’s Stardust to Your Business

In today’s corporate environment, there is a lot of face-to-screen and not enough face-to-face communication. With remote and hybrid work environments growing exponentially, it’s time to take a look at how you can capture the power of poker’s cool mystique and improve your virtual office vibe.

The game of poker will help your team hone in on the skills that will advance their careers, while improving corporate culture and encouraging independent growth. Learning the rules of poker will also encourage healthy competition between your team members, which can build stronger relationships and better collaboration in the future.

So, how do you incorporate the cachet of poker into your workspace without playing cards all day long? Here are seven ways to bring poker’s stardust to your business:

1. Encourage independence

One key to the poker dream is entrepreneurship and independence. Players own their success. The work they put in and the risks they take will pay dividends directly back to them. 

You can translate this ownership and accomplishment to your employees by assigning more autonomous projects. Regardless of how hierarchical your company’s structure might be, try to give each employee an assignment they have significant influence over. The more transparent your employees’ impact, the more motivated they will be to excel.

2. Gamify when sensible

Why is investing money viewed as a chore, but playing poker viewed as a pastime? Because poker is a game. Poker has clear rules and objectives, fun pieces to play with, and a competitive spirit among participants. Poker provides a diversion from reality so engaging, it’s affectionately nicknamed an “armchair sport.”

You can capture the excitement of competition by gamifying elements of your work. This means creating parameters and prizes for employees who go above and beyond to add value. If you’re a fan of “The Office,” you might remember the episode in which the promise of tattooing the manager sends everyone into a frenzy of productivity. Dunder Mifflin employees collaborated on tasks, cheered when someone made headway, and bonded in a brainstorming meeting over what kind of tattoo it should be.

3. Recruit nontraditional candidates

The majority of elite poker players come from nontraditional backgrounds. Many of the game’s greats started as poker dealers, and most poker professionals simply aren’t interested in pursuing standard jobs at blue chip companies, yet they still find success in a hyper-competitive space because of their passion, aptitude, and discipline.

The fact that poker doesn’t care about your race, gender, or socioeconomic status inspires aspiring champions. Poker can be a backdoor to success for people who were overlooked in traditional paths.

Taking chances on nontraditional candidates who demonstrate the passion, aptitude, and work ethic of a great poker player buoys your workforce in three ways: 

  • You access a diversity of thought that isn’t present in a staff of homogenous backgrounds.
  • Your hires are less likely to be poached by competitors who see nontraditional candidates as unqualified.
  • Your office morale grows accompanying performance improvement, multi-dimensional team discussions, and new perspectives at the water cooler.

4. Lionize and publicize success stories

When poker players dream of “making it,” they picture themselves playing on TV or being interviewed for poker publications. The poker industry has made a habit of making big winners celebrities, whether it’s PokerStars hiring Jennifer Shahade as an ambassador of the game, or Chris Moneymaker’s rise from a comptroller to an international poker icon following coverage of his main event victory.

In many offices, employees don’t have great role models working at their level. They see external hires parachuted into managerial positions, and it doesn’t feel like a job well done will be recognized among their peers. 

Shout out wins wherever you see them! Add a sales rep’s killer quarter to your weekly newsletter, or feature a coder’s newest creation on the break room bulletin board. Workers can’t see their name in lights unless they see the lights are on. Nudge the correlation between great work and stardom by celebrating your employees victories.

5. Provide both social and mellow workspace options

One reason poker has such mainstream appeal is that it is a game for both extroverts and introverts. Extroverts can network and relish the chance to talk to new people from all backgrounds. Introverts can pop on their headphones and let their chips do the talking, or simply play online.

To welcome employees of all personality types, offer a variety of workspace options. Perhaps each employee has their own cubicle, but you provide an open lounge with tables and charging ports. Or maybe the main workstation is a communal desk row, but you allow employees to work from home. 

Most employees like a balance of conversation and privacy, so any amenities you can provide to give both options will undoubtedly be appreciated.

6. Put some skin in the game

The drama and excitement inherent in poker is predicated on the idea that players have something on the line in each hand. For meaningful stakes, be it pride or chips, players simply can’t afford to tune out for a single decision because they are emotionally attached to the outcome of the game.

As a company, you can give your employees this thrill by tethering their compensation to their performance. This can take the form of contract stipulations where bonuses are paid when certain metrics are hit. You might also decide to offer stock options or restricted stock units so that your team is incentivized to optimize the productivity of the group. 

Any way you set up performance-based compensation, the extra pay for great work keeps your employees’ eyes on the prize. Spirits are high and a buzz fills the office when there’s a bit of sweetener in the pot.

7. Showcase long-term results

Poker players are motivated by long-term results. The easiest way for a player to stomach a losing day is to look back at their career graph and trust the process. Sure, luck is present in any single hand of poker, but over thousands of hands, skill will always prevail.

The same process can be used during times of hardship for a business. When Domino’s weathered tough times during the 2008 recession, the company rebranded its pizza to acknowledge its shortcomings and do right by its customers. Reminding employees that your company has done great things for years can cement a loyalty and pride in their work.

There are more than 100M poker players worldwide, and less than 10% of those players are women. Let’s flip the table and unleash the power of poker. Help your female employees gain basic game knowledge and the confidence to sit at the table with expert-guided strategy building. Are you ready to level up your labor force with a corporate poker workshop or corporate poker party

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