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The Poker Lessons Wayne Yap Applied For Entrepreneurial Success

poker lessons in business

There are many ways entrepreneurs become successful. Some aspiring entrepreneurs attend business school, hoping to learn skills that can take them to the top of their chosen field. Others like Richard Branson worked hard and built their empire without further education. Branson used his natural skills to build the Virgin empire, whilst Wayne Lap learned his skills from one field and applied them to another. Like Branson, Lap wasn’t hugely academic; instead, he found time to play poker in empty rooms with his friends whilst others studied. Growing up in Singapore meant national service, and he was even offered the chance to become an officer, which he turned down to play poker professionally. He earned a decent living, a couple of thousand dollars a month, and when he returned to his parents, he found them struggling, having lost their business and car. He helped them out and, in doing so, realized he could apply those poker lessons to business. His parents wished him a career in a more conventional field, and he complied, to a degree. He took his poker lessons and applied them to his entrepreneurial endeavors. That meant picking the right time to invest in Activision Blizzard, for example, the developers of Call of Duty. Yap was an early adopter of Bitcoin, and saw investments in Amazon rise significantly as the company grew. As he found extra means to develop, he went all-in on his personal growth, building himself into a better person. Today, Lap is a hugely successful businessman and entrepreneur, and he has three tips from poker professionals he believes make you better at business. Brand Bluff Lap believes that bluffing is a great way to get ahead in business. He doesn’t mean lying about what you have but believes you can build a bluff and a brand by association. To bluff is a common poker term which means to misdirect an opponent to the strength or weakness of your hand. Yap believes you can build a brand and look like a pro quickly in business. If you mix with successful entrepreneurs and are an entrepreneur, then by association, you’re a successful one in other people’s eyes. It’s a method of connecting with the right people to get ahead, but like in poker, you have to have a winning hand to back it up. It’s no good getting with the right people if you have no idea, substance or means to invest. Chose Pain Even writing this out feels like it goes against everything we’re tuned in to do as humans, but Lap suggests if there’s a close call to make, to raise the stakes or fold, you should choose the option with the most perceived short-term pain. If the call isn’t close, this doesn’t apply, so we’re only talking marginally more pain, but he makes the same choices in business. Whichever choice causes him more pain, he opts for it. Why? Because our brain automatically chooses reduced short-term pain, we display unwitting bias. That bias can lead to playing reserved poker or not taking chances to present themselves as entrepreneurs. Over time, by choosing the more painful options, your brain will reduce your sense of risk, allowing you to make less biased choices. Ignore The Value of Money For normal people, this isn’t going to be an easy one of Lap’s lessons to learn. He believes a successful entrepreneur must desensitize to the value of money, in the same way he did playing poker. For example, you wouldn’t bat an eyelid at maybe having a hand of poker that cost you $10, but what if the buy-in was $1000? Would you worry that money could be spent on other things? If so, Lap suggests you might not be the perfect entrepreneur. Worrying too much about the value you’re investing, or wagering will make you think twice and possibly miss out on a big opportunity.


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