Why Tech Entrepreneurs Make Great Poker Players?

Colin Keeley: I know you are a competitive poker player. What similarities do you see between building a startup and playing poker?

John Roa: There’s a lot of similarities and there’s also a couple of huge differences. The similarities are things like calculated risk. In poker, if you’re a good player and you’re not a crazy person then you’re going to really try to make bets where you have the probability of success most of the time. Even if it’s not a great probability, if you have say a 60% chance of winning, you are going to take that every day over 45%. That’s kind of how being an entrepreneur is.

Now in poker if you missed that bet you may lose it all and that probably isn’t quite as dramatic as being an entrepreneur, but it’s not impossible either. There are plenty of bets we made at AKTA where if we had lost, we probably would have lost it all.

The second piece is just the psychology of business and poker are almost the same. That’s why there are so many talented entrepreneurs who are poker players. You see it all the time in the big tournaments. These tech startup guys are all great players because you have to be able to read somebody and know what they expect and either give them that or give them the opposite. At the end, it’s basically one big sales pitch the entire time you’re sitting at the table.

This is an excerpt from a Tech In Chicago podcast episode. To listen to the whole episode and catch up with all Tech In Chicago episodes, click here.

This transcript has been lightly condensed and edited.

About Tech In Chicago:

Tech In Chicago takes you inside the Chicago tech world. Each week Colin Keeley is joined by Chicago’s top founders and investors to talk about the amazing companies being built right here. If you want to learn more about Tech In Chicago, head to TechInChicago.co

I would love to hear your thoughts on the show and any guests I should have on. Please reach out @TechInChicago. You can also find me @ColinKeeley.

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