Adam Barber, co-founder of Jackpot.co.uk, explains how games like blackjack and poker can significantly aid employee skill development
The link between gambling and upskilling your staff may not be immediately obvious. Many consider gambling something of a fool’s game, where chance triumphs over skill. But games such as blackjack and poker are different, and require players to be numerically astute while remaining calm under pressure. Skills that are vital for roles across all sectors and industries.
It’s a topic we have been discussing for some time, so here are Jackpot.co.uk we decided to team up with interview coach Claire Jenkins from 121interviewcoaching.co.uk to see if gambling in moderation could help employers upskill their staff.
Jenkins looked at three different types of gambling – blackjack, poker and slots, and found that all three helped players develop skills beneficial to the workplace.
The study first looked at blackjack, which is very much a numbers game where players with solid arithmetic skills stand the best chance of beating the house. By encouraging staff to play regularly, Jenkins says their arithmetic skills become faster and more accurate.
“Numerical reasoning is often tested as part of the recruitment selection process, so practising quick mental arithmetic and remembering number sequences are useful skills to keep as sharp as possible. This is also the case in jobs where numeracy is a vital part of the role. Blackjack is a good way of perfecting and maintaining these skills,” she adds.
Poker also puts player’s math skills to the test, but more important is the need to remain calm under pressure, or at least appear to be. Professionals have spent years mastering the art of the poker face, giving nothing away to their rivals while they assess the cards on the table and decide the best hand to play next.
At work, it is important for employees to rein in their emotions when under pressure so that they can think clearly and logically. It’s a hard skill to learn, and Jenkins says there is a fine line between remaining composed and appearing to be uninterested. Poker, she argues, is the perfect environment in which to practice.
“Being able to put yourself into a frame of mind where you can convey a relaxed confidence and positive attitude, while listening carefully of what is required of you, can help so long as it is kept at a believable level.
“Over confidence and an over relaxed state risks being misinterpreted as being blasé and unfocused or, worse still, that the person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Jenkins adds.
In general, gambling also helps employees become better risk and budget managers. Whether playing blackjack or poker, or spinning the reels on slots machines, players need to understand the risk and the random outcome of the games.
Those who play regularly learn to take a calculated approach, wagering an amount they are comfortable with based on the probability their gamble will pay off. The more they play, the better they understand the different game mechanics, volatility and prize pay-outs, adjusting their betting habits accordingly.
Jenkins says regular, albeit moderate, play allows employees to hone their risk management and budgeting skills.
“Being able to judge probability and likely impact are the cornerstones of risk management. They also help in minimising likely negative outcomes and in scoping the extent of the need for mitigating action to prevent these.
“Most jobs involve some element of calculated risk taking. Understanding the likelihood of a scenario, being able to do options appraisals and fully appreciate the extent of the consequences of each potential choice, form a skill set that ensures resources are targeted where they will have the greatest result, reducing waste and maximising efficiency,” she adds.
Hosting a monthly casino night is a great way of using games such as blackjack and poker to hone employee arithmetic, risk and budget management skills, while also boosting their confidence when under pressure. But the focus should be on fun; set buy-ins low – 50p for poker, 5p per hand for blackjack – or for no monetary amount whatsoever.
The link between gambling and upskilling staff may not be immediately obvious, but it is certainly there.
About the author:
Adam Barber is the co-founder of online casino comparison site Jackpot.co.uk.