Following Ma, Gross, and Pavlina to Learn Business Management Lessons from Blackjack

Business management doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and even for those who do take to the task quite quickly, the trials ahead can catch anyone off guard.

So, wise business managers are always looking for ways to better themselves now so that they’re up for future challenges. Some go down the rather enjoyable route of joining a sports team, trying to apply the right skills to become a confident and competent leaders.

Of course, suddenly picking up a sport or joining a team for a couple of sessions each week simply isn’t on the cards, especially if it’s critical thinking and analytical skills that you wish to hone.

While there are online courses to help you with critical thinking, there is a more hands-on approach that several savvy business people have cited as the foundations of their prominence today.

Steve Pavlina, ‘bond king’ Bill Gross, and startup guru Jeff Ma trace their origins to the game of blackjack, with it offering them the mathematical and critical thinking needed to compete in the worlds of business. So, why blackjack, and what lessons can you draw from the classic card game?

Blackjack endures because it’s not just luck that’s in play

Blackjack is the classic example of a game that’s easy to pick up but very difficult to master. In fact, some who would be deemed blackjack masters continue to study to learn more about this game.

The key aspect that allows it to endure is that learning the optimal way to play offers tangible skills away from the felt. People now recognize this fact and revere savvy blackjack players.

Of course, it’s glamorized in Hollywood, such as in the classic 1988 Dustin Hoffman flick Rain Man, and while it’s centric to each plot, one needs hands-on experience to truly get to grips with the card game.

This is why there are many different options of online blackjack games available so that enthusiasts can try different styles, deck counts, and limits. Once the ins and outs have been learned, there’s an ocean of further, expert-written reading to be found. Stanford Wong’s book for beginners, Basic Blackjack, is often hailed as must-read material for blackjack players.

You’ll also see many ratings and rankings sites put Sklansky Talks Blackjack atop their lists, with it looking to teach readers how to exercise their opportunity to get the edge over the house. This ability to have the edge against a multi-billion casino outfit is what drives many to study blackjack, but in business management, the goal can just as easily be to pick up fundamental skills by enhancing your blackjack game.

Lessons to learn from the blackjack table

The first tremendously useful and expertly-refined skill that learning blackjack strategy will grant you is focus. Now, that sounds mundane and not overly insightful, but not only is focus and moving in strategized small iterations integral to business, but the pressures of a blackjack hand will force you to focus to another level.

At the table, you’ll need to remain in this focused state, keeping in mind what the dealer shows, what other players may reveal, what’s in your hand, and what has come before. Having a blackjack-tier focus will not only help you in high-pressure situations, but it’ll also help you achieve your goals.

Jeff Ma says that he loves working on startups because they’re the same as a blackjack team: you come together to tackle a big problem, be it larger competitors or the house. To achieve such a goal, focus on the target is essential.

Dedication to improvement and continuing to learn more is also essential in business management and blackjack. There are always more strategies and plays in each situation that you can learn on the felt, and continuous improvement is critical to survival in any line of business.

Stagnating or resting on your laurels will see you lose. This is why those who can be classed as expert blackjack players don’t learn their game on the casino floor; they learn and harness their skills in private, using their spare time to practice, which takes a tremendous amount of patience.

An expert’s true victories and breakthroughs all happen behind closed doors, and that takes a lot of dedication to commit to. This is further backed up by Bill Gross, who turned $2,000 into $10,000 by playing blackjack in Las Vegas in 1966. He says that you can beat the system if you apply a lot of hard work and mathematical prowess. Doing this also granted him a sense of risk that has helped him throughout his storied career.

So, the point that was probably the most expected to come on this list, but isn’t any less true, is that of learning risk management through blackjack. The only way to beat the house is to learn the mathematical risk behind each play, each hand combination, and whatever the dealer may show.

In business, corporations must consider risk management as critical to operations these days, and learning a blackjack strategy can certainly help with this. It was detailed by Gross in a 2020 interview that blackjack gave him a sense of risk in the 1970s that allowed him to stop himself from betting too big on things of high stake when the probabilities weren’t to swing in his favor.

However, this isn’t always in the sense of not being risky. As detailed by Steve Pavlina, novices miss golden opportunities to play big, losing out due to them being so conservative. Experts exploit every single opportunity to maximize their wins in the relatively tight odds game.

There you have it: three trusted sources who are all telling you the pros of learning blackjack to enhance yourself for the world of business.