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Five ways classic games can help you succeed in business

Classic games such as blackjack and backgammon can teach entrepreneurs valuable lessons, as Laura Rutledge reports...

 Business success can be built from key strategies learnt through classic games.  

When it comes to business success, there are dozens of ways and means people tout to be their diehard beliefs. From following the same moves that business leaders such as Lord Alan Sugar and Sir Richard Branson took, to reading about the ins and outs of what key movers and shakers may think about business, everyone has their own ideas as to how to become a success themselves.

But, while there are the more obvious options for learning how to succeed in business, we suggest you take a gamble in a less obvious way: through playing games. Classic games - from blackjack and backgammon to chess and poker - can aid in business success. 


Thinking Moves Ahead

One way the classic games can be your friend when it comes to honing your business persona is through the need for strategy. Strategy is essential in almost all games, from  blackjack, roulette and baccarat to chess and Mastermind. While the aspect of luck in many games is part of the fun, most of them require a certain amount of skill. Chess can help in terms of planning ahead and strategising, while poker is a game of hands and making decisions on what may happen in the future - both befitting business.  Blackjack is a game of mathematical probability, and depending on the buy-in, you'll end up weighing up odds and deciding which course of action to take, not unlike many business decisions, especially those involving uncertain outcomes. By learning the blackjack strategies pro gamblers use, including  how to harness the decisiveness for difficult decisions  while also measuring the amount of luck necessary, making decisions and taking calculated risks in business will become second nature, and not only help you achieve more but also make you more competent.


Keeping That Poker Face 

Games that force you to keep your cards close to your chest and your moves hidden require a certain amount of interpersonal interaction in order to achieve results. Maintaining a calm exterior and ensuring your opponent doesn’t know what you’re planning is key in games such as poker, from Texas Hold ‘Em to Jacks or Better, and even backgammon, which requires you to ensure your next move isn't given away too soon. But it can also transcend to the business world. Clients never like to see you flustered, especially if you need to maintain in control, so learning a poker face could help in the boardroom. Using the cool demeanour for every situation, whether it's in your favour or not, can help you out in a bind. Plus, by learning how to control your own facial expressions, you’ll be able to pick up on other people’s and read your competitors, suppliers and employees' micro-expressions. Being able to read people emotionally is a key skill in life as well as business. Developing an instinct on an interpersonal level can help connect with people and learn when to stay further back. Knowing what a colleague, manager, or potential client needs and adjusting towards this is a very important skill in business. 

Learning to Take a Risk   

Games that focus less on skill and more on luck, such as roulette or Mastermind, which features guessing a combination of four coloured dots in a certain amount of turns, despite holding less forward-thinking strategy, can also help you making difficult business decisions. Learning how and when to take risks, and how and when to let them pass by and choose the easy option is a key skill business greats learn the hard way. But transfer the same risk analysis behaviour from roulette and Mastermind and apply it to business, you should find it easier to know which risks to take. Not only could this help you from making big mistakes in business, it could also allow you to stumble across the right course of action. Plus, you’ll look better to your peers with your strategic risk taking. All business greats list their feats as million-to-one shots as a bid to impress people, and most of the time it works. Classic games often feature elements of luck in order to allow the playing field to be levelled, so are perfect for taking calculated, and un-calculated risks.   


Teamwork Helps the Dream Work 
Playing games on a team by yourself is the most common way given how most game mechanics work, but there are a selection of multiplayer games – or indeed, games that require you to use another player - that can help build business skills. Learning to work together or to cooperate can be taught when playing games such as bridge - especially given trust is required. Few business successes have nobody to thank for their help, and business is often conducted with peer assistance. Two heads are better than one, and that adage can be applied to both the casino and business. By learning how to cooperate and collaborate when playing games that require you to think as a pair, you can be more cooperative and collaborative in business, and more understanding to someone else's intentions. Teamwork in casino games can also help leadership skills and the ability to listen to others, both of which are key skills in moving upwards in business. Showing you can work well with others no matter the circumstances may help you stand out.    


Healthy Competition 
Business, in both micro and macro levels, is competition. Either within a company or with competitors, there is a frisson of competition in the air in order to draw the best out of businesspeople and keep the business successful. Playing games such as roulette, blackjack and sic-bo can help foster the spirit of healthy competition, by playing against friends, or taking it in turns on games that require both skill and luck such as backgammon, or ones that lean more heavily towards luck, such as dominoes. Sometimes all that you need to do your best is the pride that comes with beating someone else, even if the win is only symbolic and the competition is a friendly one. Also, losing with graciousness is another key business skill that may make someone think twice, especially if they reject you initially only to change their mind based on how you reacted to the rejection. Winning and losing at land-based or online casino games can help hone reactions to both success and failure in the boardroom. 
So, while many choose to stream old episodes of The Apprentice, and others choose to leaf through books, whitepapers, and reports, sometimes focusing on something else can do even more good for your business in the long run. By honing transferable skills for business by playing classic games, you can tackle your business in an out of the box way and see the results.