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SMUpreneurs Learning Series: Making the Right Decisions through Poker!

27 May 2017


Learn how to make the right decisions all the time through poker! is the first chapter in a line of workshops under the SMUpreneurs Learning Series, and it saw a total of 21 SMU alumni and 8 members of the public attendees. Held on 27th May the event was organised by SMUpreneurs - the SMU Entrepreneurs Alumni Group.

Poker, in many ways, is similar to the business arena: decisions have to be made with incomplete information, and sometimes, in high-stake situations. So when the executive committee of SMUpreneurs came to know that Balazs Fogoly, the Managing Partner at Ember Associates, was using poker as a tool to teach better decision-making, they invited him to conduct a half-day workshop for the SMUpreneurs community.

Balazs began the session with a question: If poker were entirely up to chance, why do the same few people appear all the time at the finals of poker competitions around the world? He then led the attendees down the poker rabbit hole with a clip from the 1998 movie Rounders, which began with the immortal line: "If you can't spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker."

Not willing that any should remain as suckers, Balazs gave an introduction to decision-making, which included an analysis on how President Obama made and managed decisions during his presidency. Thereafter, he taught a crash course on Texas Hold'em poker, before dismissing everyone to the four tables where they would play poker. Each table also had a dedicated dealer whom Balazs had invited to help out.

For the rest of the session, the attendees were basically playing poker at their tables. Balazs would interject the game at appropriate times to teach a point on decision-making, using the example that was playing out at one of the tables then. He covered topics like using critical thinking over natural thinking, having a growth mindset, identifying cognitive biases, engaging in systems thinking, and calculating probabilities, all while the attendees were trying to beat each other at the table.

The attendees had great fun learning to make better decisions not only at poker, but also in their work. Tristan, a commodities trader, shared that the course gave him clarity into using probabilities when evaluating his trades, and that Balazs was excellent at coaching the attendees through the different scenarios that played out.

For more information on the SMUpreneurs and its activities, please contact Ivan Chang, President of the SMUpreneurs, or Isaac Chua, the Vice President.


Last updated on 14 Jun 2017 .