Winning Poker Lessons
Dear Poker Player,
Warren Buffett is one smart dude. And PokerLegenda.
He’s the second richest man in the WORLD… right behind
Bill Gates. Forbes estimates that his net worth is $40
(How’s THAT for a bankroll?)
What’s interesting about Buffett is that he made his fortune
over a LONGGG period of time… by consistently beating the
stock market year after year after year.
He wasn’t one of those “overnight” dot-com billionaires.
He wasn’t “lucky” to be in the right place at the right
He didn’t “invent” some new technology that changed the
Nope… all he did was invest and “pick winners” over and
over. Since taking control of Berkshire 40 years ago,
Buffett has delivered a compound annual return of 22%.
AND JUST BY DOING THAT, he became the 2nd richest man alive.
OK– so why am I rambling on about 75-year old man who’s
good at investing?
The reason is because I’ve realized that there are DOZENS of
important parallels between the STOCK MARKET and POKER.
Here are just a few:
- The stock market is often considered “gambling”, due to
its unpredictable nature… just as POKER is often
considered gambling, even though it’s a SKILL game.
- The stock market has a heavy emphasis on odds and
mathematics… just like poker.
- The stock market is predominately a male-driven
industry… just like poker.
- The stock market has PLENTY of up’s and down’s, and
“streaks”… just like poker.
- And so on.
Of course, these are “surface” similarities.
Now think about the PSYCHOLOGY of poker and the stock
market… and how they’re often EXACTLY THE SAME:
- In the stock market, everyone dreams of buying that one
MIRACLE STOCK that will go from $2 to $200 and make them
In poker, everyone has their “pipe dream” of winning a huge
million-dollar tournament on ESPN.
- When a stock tanks, most investors FREAK OUT and
immediately make several bad investment decisions in a row.
It’s usually THESE decisions that hurt them the most.
In poker, this is known as “tilt”. Bad beats cause some
damage… but it’s usually the decisions you make AFTER the
bad beats that cause you to lose the game.
- Believe it or not, most stock investors come out on the
LOSING END over time… even though the market has
historically gone UP year after year.
Most poker players end up losing over time also, despite all
the “fish” out there to prey on.
- And so on.
OK, so you get the idea.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of books about the stock
market… and especially about Warren Buffett. (Hell, I need
somewhere to invest all these poker winnings!)
Anyway, here’s what’s REALLY interesting:
Warren Buffett’s INVESTMENT APPROACH is almost identical to
the POKER STRATEGY I use every day.
And it’s the SAME approach used by top poker pros to
consistently win tournaments and ring games…
Of course, it makes sense when you think about it.
If poker and investing are similar, then the guys who beat
the STOCK MARKET probably use the same techniques as the
guys who win at POKER.
And who better to learn poker from than the “KING” of the
stock market… and the 2nd richest man in the world?
*** WARREN BUFFETT’S WINNING APPROACH ***
Warren Buffett operates on PRINCIPLES. He doesn’t get caught
up in “hype” or emotion.
Below are the five MOST IMPORTANT principles that he follows… and how they relate to your poker game.
PRINCIPLE 1: PATIENCE IS KEY.
Patience, patience, patience!
It’s the number one mistake that causes most poker players
to lose… and it’s one of the “secrets” to Buffett’s 22%
Warren Buffett does not make an investment unless he is
absolutely 100% confident that it will make him money.
That means he PASSES UP a lot of great investment
Warren Buffett has said “no” to stocks that ended up
increasing by 10,000%!
But more importantly… he’s passed up all those other
stocks that LOOKED GOOD, but PLUMMETED later.
The problem is, us human beings are addicted to ACTION and
MOVEMENT and EXCITEMENT. We don’t want to just sit around
But that’s EXACTLY what Buffett does…
He KNOWS that sooner or later, a GREAT opportunity will come
up… and then he’ll jump on it.
It’s the same way with poker.
You’ve GOT to be patient. We all want to “get in there” and
make strong bets… bluff out opponents… and take down
lots of pots. We want ACTION.
BUT THAT’S NOT HOW YOU DO IT.
You’ve got to sit back… be patient… and WAIT.
Wait for good cards.
Wait for the PERFECT time to bust the manic at the table.
Wait for the PERFECT time to steal the blinds.
Wait for the PERFECT time to bluff out an opponent.
Wait for the PERFECT time to go all-in.
And then when you DO make a move…
PRINCIPLE 2: MAINTAIN A “LOW TURNOVER” PORTFOLIO OF JUST A
Buffett insists on keeping 10-20% turnover with his
portfolio. This means he generally holds onto a stock for
5-10 years… AT LEAST.
This is obviously OPPOSITE of how most investors do it. Most
investors are checking the tickers every HOUR– watching for
the slightest indication of movement or news.
More importantly… Buffett only invests in a FEW STOCKS AT
Now THIS is crucial, because it goes against everything
you’ve ever learned.
Growing up, you probably heard this advice a lot:
“Never put all your eggs in one basket.”
Well, Warren Buffett does the OPPOSITE.
He puts all his eggs in one basket… but… he chooses that
basket VERY CAREFULLY!
You see, Buffett believes that if you’ve done your homework
and you’re confident in your decision, there’s NO NEED to
In fact, he believes this is the ONLY REAL WAY to get rich
in the stock market. Because if you buy LOTS of stocks, some
are doomed to go down… and that will hurt your gains.
Now think how this relates to poker.
In poker, most players risk money on LOTS of pots, and try
to get the best odds for each one… maybe 55%, 60%, and the
OCCASIONAL 70% or higher.
What PROFESSIONAL poker players do is only play those
OCCASIONAL pots with the best odds.
BUT, they risk more chips when they do it…
So instead of risking 20% of your chip stack five times…
you want to risk 90% of your chip stack ONE time. But you
choose that time VERY CAREFULLY!
For instance, let’s say the “average” poker player enters
three pots where he feels the odds are in his favor.
The three pots go like this:
1.) He risks 1000 in chips with 60% odds.
2.) He risks 1000 in chips with 50% odds.
3.) He risks 1000 in chips with 60% odds.
Now… MATHEMATICALLY speaking… there are EIGHT different
ways these scenarios can go. They are as follows (a win is
designated with “W” and a loss with “L”):
If he wins all three, he ends up with 3000 chips in profit.
If he wins two but loses one, he ends up with just 1000
chips in profit.
If he LOSES two but wins one, he ends up with 1000 chips in
And he if loses all three, he loses 3000 chips total.
Now let me share with you the PERCENTAGES of the above
Watch out, this may surprise you.
If you were to play three pots as described above and risk
1000 chips for each one, and do this exercise 100 times,
here’s what would happen:
18% of the time you’d win 3,000 chips total.
42% of the time you’d win 1,000 chips total.
32% of the time you’d lose 1,000 chips total.
8% of the time you’d lose 3,000 chips total.
Your “net average” would be to PROFIT 400 CHIPS.
OK… that’s the “normal” approach.
Now let’s look at the WARREN BUFFETT approach.
Let’s say you entered just ONE pot and risked 3000 chips
(instead of 1000) with 70% odds in your favor.
Now watch what happens:
70% of the time you’d win 3,000 chips total.
30% of the time you’d lose 3,000 chips total.
Your “net average” would be to PROFIT 1200 CHIPS.
That’s TRIPLE the results over time!
The key is to get BETTER ODDS and RISK MORE.
I better interject here that I do NOT recommend being one of
those players who just sits back, waits for the “nuts”, and
then goes all-in.
Not even close.
In fact, if you’ve read my newsletters you know that I’m a
very aggressive player who loves to push action.
The KEY is that I BUILD THIS IMAGE through techniques based
on feeler bets, positioning, and sensing weakness.
AND WHEN THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY COMES ALONG, I RISK AS MANY
CHIPS AS I CAN!
I know that when the odds are heavily in my favor, it’s time
to put my eggs in one basket and go for it…
PRINCIPLE 3: THE STOCK MARKET IS NOT ALWAYS RATIONAL OR
There’s a popular stock market concept called, “Efficient
Market Theory” (EMT).
Most of the world’s leading business schools teach this
Warren Buffett says that the EMT is a bunch of hogwash!
He’s actually gone on record saying that part of him LOVES
the fact that business schools teach this theory: It makes
things easier on him because his competition doesn’t know
what they’re doing!
Now… I’m not going to argue whether the theory is right or
wrong. It doesn’t matter for our discussion here.
What I find intriguing is what Buffett believes IS true
about the stock market…
You see, the EMT basically says that the stock market is
“efficient” in its pricing… and that most buy/sell
behavior is “rational”.
Buffett disagrees. He is CONSTANTLY scouting for
opportunities where he thinks the market is acting in an
IRRATIONAL manner… and then he jumps on the chance to buy
an under-priced stock.
In other words, a core part of his investment philosophy is
that the stock market is NOT efficient… and that there’s
always room to grow your “bankroll” when others act
It’s the same with poker.
When you’re playing Texas Holdem, you want to spot the
“sucker” at the table… the guy who is making IRRATIONAL
This doesn’t only apply to amateurs, either. Even PROS have
“irrational” habits, tells, and “tilt” behavior.
Your OPPONENTS will open up millions of “profit
opportunities” for you… if you just watch closely.
And that brings us to the next principle:
PRINCIPLE 4: FOCUS ON THE VALUE OF THE BUSINESS, NOT THE
PRICE OF THE STOCK.
This one has almost a direct translation to poker:
FOCUS ON THE PLAYERS, NOT THE CARDS.
You’re not playing poker against the house… you’re playing
against your opponents.