How Poker Players Start Growth Hacking for Companies

February 5, 2020

Are you looking to change your career, with or without a degree? Or if you’re asking yourself: “what poker skills can I use in business?”. You have to read this blog and learn about the new hype in recruiting: “Growth hackers”.

Let me tell you why.

As a poker player, you’ll understand the mindset of a growth hacker quicker than others. Why? If you’ve studied a few exploitable strategies you have already executed your first growth hacks!

Now let’s start with a small introduction to this new term in online marketing.

What is Growth hacking?

Growth hacking is a term used for a combination of strategies focused on growth only. Generally, it’s used when early-stage startups, who need massive growth in a short time on small budgets and need to show signs of significant growth.

The target of growth hacking strategies is usually to gather as many customers, users of fishes to their product, app or website. The term “growth hacking” was first used by Sean Ellis, founder and CEO of GrowthHackers, in 2010.

So what makes a Poker Player a good Growth Hacker?

You might already be one!

A growth hacker is a person who uses creative strategies that cost little money, to acquire and retain users for websites, apps, and companies.

They create strategies based on data and behavior psychology. Just like you have probably exploited a fish. Because you know how certain types of players behave in poker spots.

Anyone involved in a product or service, from the CEO to product owner or developer, each role can have ideas and execute their creative growth strategies.

Growth hackers tend to be analytical, driven by results and with a flexible mindset:

  • Growth hackers mainly focus on strategies for growth
  • They hypothesize, prioritize and test creative ideas
  • They data analyze and run a test sample to find out what’s working
growthtribe image
Image: GrowthTribe.io

The ideal growth hacker knows how to set growth priorities, identify channels for customer acquisition, measure success, and scale growth.

Does this fit your skillset? There are companies like GrowthTribe, who recruit and train new talent in the space. I’m sure your poker resume will stand out from the crowd if you apply.

Famous Growth Hacking Examples

Some timeless examples of well-known companies who found a perfect growth hack:

  • Dropbox, which rewards existing users for inviting friends with extra storage space
  • Hotmail, which added a line “P.S. – I love you” to each outgoing email to get new users to sign up
  • AirBnB, which created an automation tool on Craigslist to find and market to people looking for apartments that redirected back to their website

Where would these companies be today if they didn’t use a smart trick or two to find and attract their users? If you like to see how other big companies like Dollar Shave Club, Facebook, and Gmail increased their customers with creative manoeuvres, have a look at this blog by OptinMonster.

4 Poker skills that transition to Growth Marketing

growth marketing skills

1. Poker players are data experts

Have you ever asked yourself: “what skills have I developed as a poker player?”

I have asked that question to myself many times during my poker career while contemplating my life after poker. If you spend as many hours as me in Hold ’em Manager or PokerTracker, you have more statistical data experience than most data scientists.

During my data analysis, I learned how to visualize my data by building my own huds. I saw first hand how sample sizes are vital for the accuracy of stats. And I’ve built exploitable strategies to optimize my outcome ($$$). With growth hacking, you’ll implement tricks to optimize conversions.

At the end of my poker career, I learned how to manipulate my opponent’s decisions by forcing them into certain decision trees with exploitable plays. With every decision, I forced myself to think in Game Theory Optimal and exploitable strategy. And of course, you have to understand the difference. 

When you lose the money you’re more likely to look back to see what you can change in your strategy. Because it hurts to lose money! So you already have the first-hand experience of testing your strategies and adjusting them based on the results. This is a key skillset for a growth hacker and its called A/B testing. You test your assumptions with minimal cost before you implement a new strategy.

2. You’re good at profiling humans

I used to color code my opponents on PokerStars, based on a certain player profile. Green for aggressive fish and purple for a tight regular, that sort of stuff. I am sure you have as well.

Other than the colors that stars allowed, you have probably dove deeper in analyzing the regulars you play daily. Looking at their data and finding out certain patterns that identify their personalities. 

These are important skills as a growth hacker to have. You need to be able to analyze user’s behavior and data and build strategies around that. So you can direct them to the package you want to sell, or button you want them to click. These sorts of decisions are categorized as behavior psychology of the users. As a poker pro, you’re an expert with your experience. 

3. You can manage your Bankroll

If you managed to play poker after Black Friday, I’m confident you have good bankroll management skills. You have experience in taking a risk based on the number of buy-ins you can afford.

A growth hacker is usually on a tight budget to create a boost. Therefore he needs to be able to make smart bankroll decisions. Like back in the good old poker days, I like the TAG style. I’m very aggressive when I decide on a bet. But I’m careful with the spots I choose to use my firepower. 

You understand when to give up on a hand when it’s losing. And avoid getting pot committed. These are all very useful lessons that you can use when managing budgets. 

4. Using 3rd party software tools to optimize performance

When I started playing online poker, the majority of online grinders weren’t convinced that software like Hold’em manager would improve their win rate. In the data-driven world of today, can you imagine that back in 2008, even winning players were not all using the tools at their disposal?

I was always an early adopter of all the tools I could find. Poker tracker, Flopzilla, Poker Equilab , Cardrunners EV, Pio Solver, you name them and I’ve used them.

I even went as far as hiring developers to create my own poker software for specific things I needed that weren’t on the market yet. And at the final stages of my career, I had a guy in China to create and maintain my seating script, to make bumhunting life easier.

I’m confident to say that you have vast experience in using the software above, similar tools or even new programs out on the market today. 

So when I say that a growth hacker should be comfortable to use several different tools to optimize his decision making. Are you ready for that? 

Are you ready to become a Growth Hacker?

growth hacking skills

Obviously, there is more to becoming a growth hacker. It will be very useful if you have skills like:

  • Basic coding skills (HTML, CSS, JavaScript)
  • Copy writing
  • SEO
  • Design
  • UX
  • SEA
  • Digital Marketing
  • Finance

You already have at least 3 skills needed to complete the job, now it’s on you to bluff that you can do the rest.

Just kidding of course.

In general, you don’t need all the skills to help a business move forward. You can lean on the skills you have and improve other skills in the meantime. 

Book a growth hacker’s session

If you’d like to discuss how to become a growth hacker we can have a chat. Or if you have an idea on growth hacking you want to bounce off someone let me know in the comments below!

If you find this blog useful, you’ll enjoy the presentation I did for a group of startup founders at the Epicenter of Amsterdam.

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