Willingness to take risks, an ability to read competition and an incessant desire to learn. What do people with this skillset have in common? All are qualities you’d expect to hear cited in a list of ‘what qualities make a good entrepreneur’. Yet, those same qualities could also be found in a ‘what makes a good poker player’ article too.
No surprises then that some of the world’s leading business brains are also superb poker players, winning big in prestigious competitions like the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Today, we’re listing entrepreneurs who are also successful poker players…
Guy Laliberté, owner of Cirque de Soleil
It takes a certain kind of risk taker to start a circus, but Guy Laliberté went and did it anyway…and it paid off. Big time. Now, Cirque de Soleil has performed for more than 180 million people in 450 cities on every continent but Antarctica, and Laliberté is estimated to be worth US$1.37 billion, making him the 11th wealthiest Canadian. When he isn’t orchestrating spectacles to wow enormous crowds, Laliberté is also a thoroughly decent poker player.
In 2007, he finished fourth in the World Poker Tour Season Five event in Las Vegas, he has played in GSN’s High Stakes Poker (Season 4) and in Poker After Dark, and is known for enjoying a high stakes poker game. Laliberté also started the One Drop Foundation – an organisation which supplies safe drinking water to countries without it and several poker tournaments now donate much of their charitable proceeds to his organisation.
Tony Hsieh – CEO of Zappos
Hsieh is a venture capitalist and internet entrepreneur who first struck gold when he co-founded LinkExchange, an Internet advertising service that was sold to Microsoft in 1998 for an incredible $265 million. Hsieh went on to found Zappos, an online shoe and clothing company, which was acquired by Amazon in 2009 for $1.2 billion, of which Hsieh is rumoured to have made $214 million.
Maybe it was spending a lot of time Las Vegas that kick started this entrepreneur’s love of poker. Since 2009, he has been involved in a major redevelopment of the city’s downtown area, and created the Downtown Project – a mecca for local businesses and tech entrepreneurs. In his book, Delivering Happiness, Hsieh talks about learning many of his biggest business lessons around the poker table.
Bob Safai – Madison Partners
Bob Safai made his reported $50 million net worth investing in real estate and as a Founding Partner and President of Madison Partners, a Southern Californian boutique real estate firm. However, when he’s not selling dream homes to multi-millionaires or adding to his own extensive portfolio, Safai loves nothing more than a High Stakes game of poker, and has appeared on High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark.
David Einhorn – Founder and President of Greenlight Capital
Immediately after graduating from Cornell University, Einhorn started Greenlight Capital with $900,000. He went on to rank 44th in the Time 100 Most Influential list in 2013, and is thought to have a net worth of $1.52 billion, making him one of the youngest billionaires in the world. His love of poker saw him finish 18th in the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2006, but rather than pocketing his winnings of $650,000, he donated them to The Michael J. Fox Foundation. He repeated this in 2012 when he finished in third place in the World Series of Poker Big One for One Drop for which there was a $1 million buy-in. He donated his winnings of over $4million to City Year, an American education non-profit.