What We Can Learn About Risk Management From Erik Seidel

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Image source – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Seidel

At this year’s U.S. Poker Open, Erik Seidel beat Phil Hellmuth in heads-up play thirty years after their first meeting. This win put the Poker Hall of Famer in fourth place on poker’s all-time money list. This win could have cost Seidel everything; he went all-in and put his chips on the line, but his hand held up against Hellmuth’s. It showcased how his game sense and risk management have kept him in high ranks throughout his career.


Wall Street trader turned poker player Erik Seidel is one of the quietest men in the game, but he’s also one of the most successful and enduring players around. You can find him playing in some of the highest-stakes tournaments in the world, where he managed to rack up $39 million on his record and boasts high rankings on the Global Poker Index. His success came from years of learning to manage risks, develop strategies, and trust his instincts. Even if you aren’t sitting at a poker table with him, Seidel’s principles on taking risks and making decisions can guide you through whatever life sends you. Here are three to consider:

Stay open-minded


Seidel once had an encounter with another high-stakes player and noticed how the other man gave specific opinions on how to play a certain hand. To this, Seidel remarked: “Less certainty. More inquiry.” Though the other player saw it as a criticism of his playstyle, that statement is something you can take to heart when facing any situation. You may think your skills and capabilities are at their peak, but there’s always room for learning and growth, which is made possible by nurturing your curiosity and keeping an open mind.

As a leader, your position may give you an ego that closes you off from others’ opinions, but listening to their perspectives or asking them questions can give you better insight before making a risky move.

Take responsibility


While she was learning the game, poker player and author Maria Konnikova — Seidel’s mentee — would replay her hands to him. He told her that she was describing things as “happening to her” rather than taking ownership of her actions. She got emotional during tournaments, which affected her decision-making at the table. By being more proactive, she was able to clear her mind and get back on track.

Seidel’s words are a reminder that taking control of a situation instead of being emotionally swayed by it can give you a better headspace when making risky choices. Perhaps a discussion at work can get heated, so you must practice self-awareness to stop it from escalating and take responsibility for what was said. This way, the meeting can be refocused, and a proper decision or conclusion can be made.

Pay attention


When new poker players ask him for advice, Seidel’s usual answer is to pay attention. Too often does the art of observation go overlooked in favor of more quantitative aspects, not just in poker but in everyday life. A lot of information can be gathered by looking at your surroundings and simply being present in the moment. It also calms the nerves by giving you something to focus on, preventing you from being too complacent.

This idea is applicable across all kinds of industries. If you’re encountering a new client, paying attention to how they work and what they stand for can help you decide whether working with them is worth the risk or if it’s best to fold for the time being.

Like poker, running a business requires an open mind, accountability, and presence when managing risks. Erik Seidel has received great success by following these ideas; the same can go for you and your company. For more on business, finance, tech, and marketing, visit us at BlinkBits for the best tips and advice.