What Can You Learn About Internet Marketing By Playing Poker ?

What Can You Learn About Internet Marketing By Playing Poker ?To start with, I’ve never really played poker other than for matchsticks or plastic chips with a few buddies so my insight on this topic comes from the book I am currently reading. It’s the book “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh. If you’ve never heard of the book or the guy, he helped make Zappos, the online shoe store, successful. The company was eventually acquired by Amazon for over a billion dollars !

Before he became CEO of Zappos, he did a few other things including dabbling in the professional Poker world. From reading the book, it strikes me that when the author goes into something he gets  focused. He ended up studying the game pretty hard. Not only did he learn about the practical and technical skills need to play the game but he also considered the mindset required to be successful.

As he was/is a serial entrepreneur, he applied the lessons of Poker to entrepreneurial-ism and developing start ups. I thought I’d apply this wisdom to internet marketing as that’s what I do and there seems to be  quite a few overlaps between the two.

Poker Lesson 1.

Don’t play games that you don’t understand, even if you see lots of other people making money from them.

Internet Marketing Take Away 

Don’t get sucked in by the latest bus opp. Don’t believe the hype that the latest email claims about Mr X making $56,249 a month with the latest fad. Maybe he is and maybe he isn’t but do some due diligence before you get into it.

For instance, what is required to be successful using this system ? Does this fit your skill set or financial circumstances.  If it doesn’t fit your skill set is it something that you would be interested in learning ? What do you think is the most challenging part of the system, ask the product creator to explain this more or explain how he/she deals with it.

In short, resist the tendency to follow the crowd without knowing your own reasons why you are following the crowd.


Poker Lesson 2.

Figure out the game when the stakes aren’t high.

Internet Marketing Take Away

Get something to work before you “rinse and repeat”. The obvious example might be using PPC. Don’t run a $1000 campaign right off the bat. You’ll lose you money.

A less obvious example might be to create a website and make it work before making another website. Don’t be the guy that has 100 websites that get no traffic and make no money. Make your first website work before starting a new one. The cost, both in time and money, will be low.

Poker Lesson 3.

Don’t cheat, cheaters never win in the long run.

Internet Marketing Take Away

Given the latest and seemingly unending Google changes, it isn’t wise  break the rules. You’ll get caught eventually. The same goes for capitalizing on so called loopholes and glitches in a system. At best this is a temporary win but ultimately the loophole will get patched up and you’ll be out of the game.

In short, these methods are a short term strategy.


Poker Lesson 4.

Stick to your principles.

Internet Marketing Take Away

Whilst I’m not sure what principles you stick to in Poker, I think in IM  you have to deliver real value to real people. With this said, sticking to these kind of principles will help you to be known , liked and trusted by your customers. It will also ensure you develop a good reputation within the industry you are working in. This lesson applies to your Strategic thinking and your vision of how you see yourself in a few years time.


Poker Lesson 5.

You need to adjust your style of play throughout the night as the dynamics of the game change. Be flexible.

Internet Marketing Take Away

This might seem to contradict the previous lesson but I think this is more about dealing with the tactical side of your internet marketing activities -. the day to day activities – rather than the overriding vision of what you do. So things like how to get traffic, how to create sales pages, which form of paid advertising to use and things like that.

For instance, should you use webinars to get customers for a product or service you are marketing. Should your sales page include a video and be a short form or long form of sales copy ?  Should you ditch Google Adwords and use Facebook advertising instead.


Poker Lesson 6.

Be patient and think long term.

Internet Marketing Take Away

I think this is pretty straightforward and kind of a repeat of a few of the other lessons. Internet marketing, despite the claims, is not a get rich quick activity. Some people may be lucky but most have to play the long game to see success.


Poker Lesson 7.

Players with the most stamina and focus usually win.

Internet Marketing Take Away

This is pretty much a life philosophy as far as I can see. Be the tortoise and not the hare. If you struggle with stamina and focus in your internet marketing then ask yourself if you are really cut out to do it or why you want to do it. Also with more success you will develop more stamina and focus. Belief begets focus and a good work ethic begets stamina.


Poker Lesson 7.

Differentiate yourself from the rest of the table – do the opposite of what the rest of the table is doing.

Internet Marketing Take Away

Stand out in a competitive market. Try to think creatively about how you market a product. Offer a bonus if you are an affiliate marketer. Offer outrageously good value if you are a product owner.

If you are trying to get a reputation in the industry, develop your own voice so that people can immediately identify a comment, a post or a product that you have created.


Poker Lesson 8.

Hope is not a plan

Internet Marketing Take Away

IM is not a black art or secret power. I strongly believe most people can learn the techniques and tactics. But most people don’t have the will power or the strength of their own convictions to be successful. Ultimately, you have to think for yourself. By all means follow a guru if that feels right but don’t leave your success in the hands of someone else. Take responsibility for your own success.


Poker Lesson 9.

Don’t let yourself go “on tilt”. It’s much more cost effective to take a break, walk around, or leave the game for a night.

Internet Marketing Take Away

Don’t get totally consumed by Internet Marketing. There is a lot to learn and new things seem to be coming out every minute. Get away from Internet Marketing from time to time. It’s good fro your health, your relationships with family and friends and,  if anything, many people claim to get inspiration for new marketing ideas when they aren’t consciously thinking about IM.

By the way, Tony Hsieh’s book is an excellent read and you can even get a cartoon version of it nowadays.

5 Responses to “What Can You Learn About Internet Marketing By Playing Poker ?”

  • Noel Cunningham on May 4, 2012

    Hey Adrian,

    Some great tips there… I wouldn’t be a poker player either but those lessons ring true for the IM Game aswell….

    No. 8 “Hope is not a Plan” Everybody who “hopes” to make money online should read that. Without a Plan everything can go south very, very quickly…


    • admin on May 8, 2012

      Hi Noel, Yes, a plan is vital but most people stumble into things and then learn how to do it right or better. Seems that’s the way of life. Parent will always tell their children to do it a certain way but the kids still have to find out the hard way.

      I’m really enjoying the book…it’s seems amazing that Tony Hsieh sold a company for 235 million before he turned Zappos into a billion dollar company but he almost went bankrupt trying to get Zappos started. He seemed immune to the risk at times and didn’t care if he lost money and even possessions. Proving the idea seemed/seems to be most important thing to him.

  • Hey Adrian,

    I like your analogies… it is true that these rules of poker do apply in the internet marketing world. It can be difficult to find direction when you are first starting out in internet marketing with high hopes…. Internet marketing is a business and it can take some time to learn the ropes.

    Take care,


    • admin on May 15, 2012

      Hi Jeremy,

      You seem to be making great strides in your internet business, what with your first video, first interview, first guest blog etc. Lots of firsts that are quite scary to people but when you have done it once no doubt it gets easier…then you just have to be consistent which is another facet to master.

  • Kevin on May 18, 2012

    As I read this I’m watching Rounders (great movie about poker). I’ve always wanted to learn but I’ve never taken the time. It’s cool that the same things that it takes to succeed in one thing are the same things that it takes to improve in another. The biography sounds interesting. Just added it to my reading list.

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