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Lesson #4: “Remember that it’s a long-term game”
"I started to notice similarities between what was good poker strategy and what made for good business strategy, especially when thinking about the separation between short-term thinking (such as focusing on whether I won or lost an individual hand) and long-term thinking (such as making sure I had the right decision strategy)."
In poker as in business, Hsieh stresses the importance of remembering "that it's a long term game. You will win or lose individual hands or sessions, but it's what happens in the long term that matters."
If you adopt a long-term perspective, you can take more of the risks that might take time to pay off. "Play only with what you can afford to lose," counsels Hsieh, but "go for positive expected value, not what's least risky."
Few businesses, just like few poker players, ever win big by playing safe. They might win, and they might win many times, but they are likely to win small. "The guy who wins the most hands is not the guy who makes the most money in the long run," says Hsieh. Similarly, "the guy who never loses a hand is not the guy who makes the most money in the long run."
Take those risks you are afraid to take and you might just be surprised by the results. Take what you can afford to throw in the game and go for gold. After all, the truest entrepreneur will never settle for silver.
Still, you need to be prepared for the consequences of those risks. "Always be prepared for the worst possible scenario," says Hsieh, and "make sure your bankroll is large enough for the game you're playing and the risks you're taking."
If you are unsure of the rules or strategy of the game at that particular table, learn them before you jump in. "Don't play games that you don't understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them," advises Hsieh. "Figure out the game when the stakes aren't high."
But if you never step in to sit at that big table and place that big bet, you will never win the big pot. And, says Hsieh, refuse to limit yourself to the pot - or the market - you see in front of you. "I realized that, whatever the vision was for any business," he says, "there was always a bigger vision that could make the table bigger."
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