A trader-turned-poker champ’s secrets of success

A trader-turned-poker champ’s secrets of success

Andy Frankenberger is a professional gambler with a difference. The once high-flying Wall Street trader took his success in business and turned it into success on the poker table, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

He’s won more than $US2.5 million since 2010 and he credits lessons from his successful trading experience for his accomplishments as a poker player.

So what are the aspects of Frankenberger’s poker game that apply to the wider world of business?

Break with convention

His unconventional play style is one reason Frankenberger has been so successful in the poker world.

He is known for folding on good hands, and betting on bad hands.

In one particular game, Frankenberger folded on a full house, according to reports. It proved to be the right move; his opponent also had a full house – a better one.

Those who buck the trend in business can also make it big.

Steve Jobs is a great example, moving his technology company Apple from focusing solely on computers to the fledgling smartphone and MP3 markets.

Rival companies, too scared to move as early, are still trying to catch Apple almost a decade later.

Don’t worry about looking weak

Must leaders always look strong?

Frankenberger doesn’t think so. He isn’t afraid of swallowing his pride and folding his cards when he knows they are against him.

“If the market goes against you and you’re wrong, you get out,” he told WSJ. “A lot of poker players don’t know how to do that because it looks weak.”

“I can fold a hand that makes me look weak. I don’t care about my image. I care about winning.”

Persisting with a business strategy that isn’t working can do more damage than “failing fast”.

Leaders who admit to mistakes are more human and approachable, encouraging employees to contribute ideas fearlessly.

Research is central to risk management

Risk is a word Frankenberger uses over and over again.

“It’s all about risk management,” he says.

On the poker table, he is always trying to reduce risk and get the odds in his favour.

Research is a big part of this. Pascal Leyo, who hired Frankenberger for BNP Paribas in 2007, spoke highly of how much the young trader researched. “He would take as much information as he needed before trading, which is what he does with poker.”

When leader face risks in a strategy, more information and research offers one path to assessing the likelihood of these (and others) occurring.

A strong grasp of mathematics also helps in the assessment of risks – and Frankenberger is a maths genius, scoring a perfect 800 on his high school examination.

This is how insurance companies create their policies and assess the chances of events happening.

By researching risk and calculating likelihood, leaders gain the upper hand.


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