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What Successful Poker Players and Finance Professionals Have in Common


Poker and finance are two of a kind. The type of strategic thinking that is instrumental in winning poker is the same requirement in making successful finance and investment decisions. In poker and trading, players and investors are both required to balance expected returns with associated risk. Which is why it is no big surprise when someone in the field of finance is successful in poker, and vice versa. Both all about mastering the basics and maintaining self-discipline. Learning the basics in one field can actually benefit the other. So, a poker player might improve his hand by studying the tricks in finance, and a trading professional might improve his investing decisions by playing poker. 

Different Setting, Same Strategy

Poker players and investment traders are always attuned to noticing patterns and letting them inform their decision-making, although there may be slight differences in how they approach pattern analysis. For poker players, it is critical to watch opponents closely and look for indications such as changes in body language and other “tells” that could reveal their next bet. Meanwhile, in investing, the approach is not as personal as that of poker, as traders analyse data in order to forecast where the market is headed. In both arenas, pattern analysis is vital. It is necessary to observe changes and fluctuations from the status quo in order to decide one’s next move.  

Access to online poker games is beneficial to anyone who wants to become successful in the card game of poker. Unlike in the past, when one needed to go to a land-based poker room in order to play and learn the strategies of the game, online poker sites are now easily accessible to anyone who wants to become an expert poker player. One’s understanding of poker is related to the number of hands they play, and playing online makes it possible to play more games than in a physical casino. Some online poker sites even let new players play for free without requiring a deposit, and there are even bonuses given out too. And with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, one can play online poker anytime and practically anywhere. All it takes it to download the app or access the site on a browser. Click here to see how you can practice poker online for free by playing different variants such as Texas Hold’em, 7 Card Stud, Omaha as well as webcam poker, where you can see your opponent, and fast-fold versions like SNAP.

Risk Management and Recovery from Losses

Successful poker players and trading investors should both be impartial and well-acquainted with risk. While people outside these industries may find it challenging to separate the decision from the outcome, this is something that expert poker players and investment traders are very good at. They are able to make an unbiased decision and accept the outcome, whether it was a success or not. It is equally important that they bounce back from losses, assessing carefully and objectively what went wrong and planning their next move.

In both fields, there is no room for sulking. Playing your loss over and over in your mind will not change anything, but focusing on your next hand could give you the win you’ve been wanting to achieve. Both poker players and investment traders are able to quickly move forward from any losses. They know how to compartmentalise, and they do not allow defeats to affect their strategy. In both poker and trading, one must be able to strategise based on factors revolving the current situation. It is dangerous to base one’s decisions on recent losses, or even on recent gains.

Top Poker Players Who Are Also on Wall Street

One proof that the worlds of poker and finance are similar on so many levels is the existence of top poker players on Wall Street. For one, there’s Vanessa Selbst, the most successful female poker player to this day. Vanessa has achieved almost $12 million in winnings and recently made a career switch from poker to finance. Vanessa is a three-time World Series of Poker winner and known to be an aggressive player with a diverse background. Before she took a job with Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, she worked at consulting giant McKinsey & Company.

Another legend in poker who migrated to Wall Street is Jason Strasser, one of the top figures in the poker tournament scene back in early 2000. To the surprise of many, Jason left poker in 2007 to take on the role of co-founder and chief investment officer at Caption Partners. But Jason didn’t leave the poker world for good. He still plays in poker tournaments from time to time. In fact, he recently topped a massive field of 1,249 entries and secured the 2018 World Series of Poker Circuit Choctaw $1,675 No-Limit Hold’em main event title, earning $332,539 and his second WSOPC gold ring.

In 2010, Louis Bacon’s $4 billion hedge fund, Moore Capital, hired James Vogl from North London. James won a coveted bracelet in 2004 during a World Series of Poker event in Las Vegas. In the said event, he won over 800 other players and earned $400,00 0 in tax-free profits in just one hand. James, who admits that he is highly competitive, has always had a passion for risk and reward games, spending a lot of time learning poker and the odds, practising and doing the calculations.

High stakes, effective strategy, risk-taking, and a lot of self-discipline – these are just some of the things that are needed in poker if one wishes to succeed in this game. And since poker and finance are practically identical, these factors are equally essential in the world of investment trading. What’s amazing about these two worlds is, they offer the same opportunities and excitement to people who excel in either that one can grow in one field and evolve in the other, such as the case of the top poker players who decided to join the exciting world of Wall Street. 


John Richardson