Sports and Cards Analogies

Business is filled with sports analogies. I myself made one via twitter last week.

But I prefer card games when it comes to business analogies. I blogged about the poker analogy early in the days of this blog. And recently, I talked about doubling down.

We were playing texas hold'em at home last night (with real cards and chips, not on Facebook) and it occurred to me that card games are a great way to learn important business lessons.

I was watching my son Josh evaluate the risk of sticking with a losing hand or folding. That's something we have to deal with in the venture capital business all the time and it's not an easy decision. It gets harder the more money you have on the line.

And the decision about how much to bet early on is also directly relevant to business. If you have great cards, you might be tempted to bet a lot right off the bat, but doing so may lead to the other players folding. So you want to suck the other players in by betting less early in the hand and increasing it over time. I've worked with a number of companies who have had "great hands" but have not shared that with anyone waiting for as long as possible to reveal the strength of their business. I'm not saying that playing business with your cards close to your vest is always the right approach, but at times it is.

I'm not a huge bridge player but it is not surprising to me that Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are fanatic bridge players. Cards and business have a lot in common.

Playing cards also sharpens the mind. I try to count cards when I am playing a hand. I'm not as good at it as I'd like to be. When I'm on vacation and playing a lot of cards with the family, I find myself getting better at counting. It's a great way to exercise the mind (at least the left side of the brain).

Business is competitive. So looking at sports and cards for business analogies is a good practice. It can help bring a concept home to a team you are working with and it can help close a deal you are negotiating. If you have any good ones to share, leave them in the comments.

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