There are many games that share similarities to trading. In fact, some of them you can also make money from.
Let’s take a look at the games most similar to trading:
Poker and trading share several similarities, including the importance of risk management, understanding other players’ behavior, dealing with incomplete information, and making informed decisions based on the available information.
Let’s dive deeper into each of these similarities:
In both poker and trading, risk management is crucial.
Players and traders need to assess the risks associated with their decisions and decide whether the potential rewards are worth taking the risk.
Just as a poker player needs to decide how much to bet based on the strength of their hand and the likelihood of winning, traders need to assess the risks associated with each trade and decide how much capital to allocate.
Understanding other players’ behavior
In both poker and trading, understanding other players’ behavior is crucial.
In poker, players need to read their opponents’ body language, facial expressions, and betting patterns to anticipate their moves.
In online poker, then you need to be very strong at “game theory optimal” (GTO) play, which means knowing the fundamentals very well when exploitative play isn’t an option.
Similarly, traders need to analyze market trends, news events, and other traders’ behavior to anticipate market moves.
How big are the other participants in a market? What are their motivations and what are they likely to do?
Both poker players and traders need to assess the motives and incentives of other players and traders to make informed decisions.
Dealing with incomplete information
In trading, the range of unknowns are high in relation to the range of knowns relative to what’s discounted in the price.
What you don’t know – and can’t know – is often much more than whatever it is that you know.
The same is true in poker.
In both poker and trading, players have to make decisions based on incomplete information.
In poker, players only have partial information about their opponents’ hands, and in trading, traders generally only have access to limited information about all there is to know about their markets.
Both poker players and traders need to make decisions based on the available information while acknowledging that they may not have all the information they need.
Making informed decisions
Both poker players and traders need to make informed decisions based on the available information.
In poker, players need to consider the strength of their hand, the pot odds, and the likelihood of their opponents having a better hand.
Similarly, traders need to analyze market trends, news events, and other traders’ behavior to make informed decisions about when to enter and exit trades.
Both poker and trading require emotional management.
In poker, players need to manage their emotions and avoid making impulsive decisions based on their emotions.
Similarly, traders need to manage their emotions and avoid making impulsive decisions based on fear or greed.
In poker, the emotional aspect is typically called “tilt” while in trading there is a sub-topic of popular interest called trader psychology.
Various types of games
In poker, there are various types of games, including:
- No Limit Hold ‘Em
- Limit Hold ‘Em
And there are various formats, including cash games and tournaments.
In cash games, you compete for the chips (cash) of others at your table.
For tournaments, you pay a fee and hope to land in the money to cash out.
Cash games are analogous to trading underlying securities in trading/investing while tournaments are analogous to buying out-of-the-money options where you pay a fixed fee in exchange for the chance to cash if you go far enough in the tournament.
Likewise, in trading/investing, there are various markets to explore, which are like their own individual games:
And you can trade the underlying or trade it via options markets where they exist.
How TRADING is like playing POKER – Poker Tournament Analysis & Comparison
Monopoly is a popular board game that simulates the experience of buying, selling, and investing in real estate.
The game involves players moving around a board, buying and selling properties, and collecting rent from their opponents.
Many aspects of the game, such as negotiation, risk management, and decision-making, are similar to trading and investing in real life.
In a previous article, we discussed how well the game of Monopoly approximates economies and markets in real-life and how it would be almost a perfect real-world example if an extra wrinkle was added into the game (the bank could give out loans to players to buy properties).
Here are some of the ways in which Monopoly is similar to trading and investing:
Risk and Reward
In Monopoly, players must take risks in order to acquire properties and increase their net worth.
Similarly, in investing and trading, there is a tradeoff between risk and reward.
Higher-risk investments often have the potential for higher returns, while lower-risk investments may offer lower returns.
Monopoly involves evaluating the value of different properties and making strategic decisions about which ones to buy and which ones to sell.
In real estate investing, property valuation is also a key consideration.
Investors must analyze factors such as location, demand, and potential for appreciation in order to make good decisions.
Negotiation is a key component of Monopoly, as players must work with each other to make deals and trades.
Similarly, in business pursuits, negotiation is important when buying and selling assets.
Negotiating skills can help investors get a better price or terms for an investment.
Cash Flow Management
In Monopoly, players must manage their cash flow in order to pay rent, buy properties, and invest in new opportunities.
This is also important in real-life investing, as investors must manage their cash flow in order to make strategic investments and avoid running out of money.
Monopoly encourages players to diversify their holdings in order to spread their risk and increase their chances of success.
This is also a key principle in investing, where diversification can help investors manage risk and achieve long-term success.
Monopoly is a game that is played over a set time period, and players must make decisions about how to allocate their resources within that time frame.
Similarly, in investing, investors must consider their time horizon and make strategic decisions about which investments to hold for the short-term versus the long-term.
Overall, Monopoly is similar to trading and investing in many ways. It requires strategic decision-making, risk management, negotiation skills, and an understanding of market trends and valuation.
Playing Monopoly can be a fun and engaging way to learn about these important concepts and develop skills that are useful in real-life investing.
Acquire is a board game that originally came out in 1964 (by 3M) and simulates a stock market-like game.
Players invest in hotel chains and try to acquire the most valuable portfolio.
The game can be seen as similar to trading and investing in the following ways:
Acquire, like trading and investing, requires players to assess risk and manage their investments accordingly.
In Acquire, players must carefully decide which hotel chains to invest in, based on factors such as the current state of the market and the potential growth of each hotel chain.
Just like in real life, investing too much in a single hotel chain could result in significant losses if that chain fails, while diversifying one’s investments can help mitigate risk.
Timing is imporant in Acquire, as players must decide when to buy and sell their shares in the different hotel chains.
Like in trading and investing, players must be able to anticipate market trends and make quick decisions in order to maximize profits.
Waiting too long to buy or sell could mean missing out on potential gains or suffering losses.
Similar to managing a stock portfolio in real life, in Acquire players must carefully manage their investments to ensure a diverse and profitable portfolio.
Players must choose when to sell their shares in a hotel chain in order to reap profits or minimize losses, while also balancing their investments in different hotel chains to achieve maximum profitability.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Acquire features a mechanic where players can merge two hotel chains to create a larger, more profitable chain.
In real life, companies merge and acquire other companies to increase their market share and profitability.
The decision to merge or acquire another company can be complex and involves careful analysis of potential benefits and risks, much like in the game.
Settlers of Catan
The game Settlers of Catan is a popular board game that involves building settlements, cities, and roads on an island with scarce resources.
The game involves strategic decision-making, negotiation, and resource management.
In many ways, the game shares similarities with trading and investing.
One of the primary objectives of the game is to manage resources effectively.
In Settlers of Catan, players must acquire resources such as lumber, brick, ore, wheat, and sheep. Similarly, in trading and investing, resource management is critical.
Investors must make decisions about how much to allocate to different types of assets, such as stocks, bonds, and commodities.
Traders must manage their cash flow and allocate capital to different trades based on market conditions.
Risk and Reward
In Settlers of Catan, players take risks when they choose to build settlements or cities in certain locations.
The same is true in trading and investing.
Investors must make decisions about how much risk to take on and whether to invest in high-risk, high-reward assets or low-risk, low-reward assets.
Traders must also make decisions about how much risk to take on in each trade and whether to use leverage to amplify their returns.
Negotiation and Communication
In Settlers of Catan, players negotiate with each other to trade resources or make deals.
Communication and negotiation skills are essential to succeed in the game.
Similarly, in trading and investing, negotiation and communication are critical.
Investors must communicate with their brokers, advisors/consultants, or other investors to make informed decisions.
Traders must negotiate with counterparties to make profitable trades or execute complex strategies.
Strategy and Planning
Settlers of Catan is a game of strategy and planning.
Players must make decisions about where to build settlements and roads, which resources to acquire, and how to interact with other players.
Trading and investing require similar strategic thinking.
Investors must develop a long-term investment strategy, considering factors such as risk tolerance, investment goals, and market conditions.
Traders must develop short-term or medium-term trading strategies that take advantage of market inefficiencies or volatility.
Psychology and Emotions
In Settlers of Catan, players can experience emotions such as frustration, disappointment, and elation. The same is true in trading and investing.
Emotions can affect decision-making and lead to suboptimal outcomes.
Experienced investors and traders learn to manage their emotions and make rational decisions based on data and analysis.
Stock Market Games or Simulators
The most obvious parallel, stock market simulators and stock market-like games are designed to replicate the experience of trading and investing in the stock market without the risk of using real money.
While they are not exactly the same as trading and investing in the real stock market, they do share many similarities.
Use of market data
Both stock market simulators and real stock market trading involve the use of market data to make investment decisions.
In the case of stock market simulators, this data is often delayed, but it still provides players with valuable information on stock prices, trends, and historical performance.
Buying and selling stocks
In both stock market simulators and real stock market trading, investors buy and sell stocks in order to make a profit.
Players in stock market simulators have access to virtual money that they can use to invest in a variety of stocks, just like real investing.
Risk and reward
Like real stock market investing, stock market simulators also involve risk and reward.
Players can gain or lose virtual money based on the performance of the stocks they invest in.
This encourages players to learn about the stock market, analyze market data, and make better investment decisions.
Both stock market simulators and real stock market trading involve the use of trading strategies to maximize profits and minimize losses.
Players in stock market simulators can experiment with different trading strategies, such as buying and holding, day trading, or swing trading.
In many stock market simulators, players compete against each other to see who can make the most profit over a given period of time.
This competition can be a great motivator for players to learn about the stock market and develop their investment skills.
Bridge is a popular card game that involves strategic planning, critical thinking, and communication between partners.
Similarly, trading and investing also involve strategic planning, critical thinking, and communication between investors and traders.
Bridge is also popularly known as Warren Buffett’s game of choice, spending around 8 hours per week on the game.
Here are some ways in which Bridge is similar to trading and investing:
In Bridge, players must manage risk by carefully evaluating the likelihood of certain outcomes and deciding whether to take a chance on a particular play or bid.
Traders/investors must manage risk by evaluating the likelihood of certain outcomes and deciding whether to invest in a particular stock or asset.
Bridge players must think several moves ahead and plan their plays and bids accordingly.
Market participants must plan their investment strategies ahead of time and consider various factors, such as market trends, company performance, and economic indicators.
Bridge players partner up and must communicate effectively in order to succeed.
Traders/investors often work with brokers or financial consultants/advisors and must communicate their investment goals and preferences in order to make good decisions.
Analysis of Information
In Bridge, players must analyze the information available to them, such as the cards in their hand and the bidding history, in order to make informed decisions.
Likewise, traders/investors must analyze various forms of information, such as financial statements, market trends, and news articles, in order to do well.
Bridge players must be patient and wait for the right opportunity to make their move.
Market participants must be patient and wait for the right time to buy or sell assets.
In Bridge, players must be flexible and willing to change their strategy if the situation calls for it.
Similarly, in trading and investing, investors must be flexible and willing to adapt their investment strategies in response to how the world changes.
Fantasy sports and trading/investing share several similarities.
Here are some of the ways in which they are alike:
Analysis and Strategy
Both fantasy sports and trading/investing require a significant amount of analysis and strategy.
In fantasy sports, participants need to research player statistics, team formations, and other variables to make informed decisions on which players to draft, trade, or drop.
Similarly, in trading and investing, investors need to analyze financial statements, economic indicators, and market trends to make informed decisions on which securities or assets to buy, hold, or sell and to build out their portfolio.
Risk and Reward
Both fantasy sports and trading/investing involve risk and reward.
When playing fantasy sports, the risk comes from injuries, suspensions, and poor performance, while the reward comes from selecting players who perform well and score a lot or perform well.
In trading, risk comes from things like market volatility and unforeseen events, while the reward comes from picking securities/assets that generate returns.
Both fantasy sports and trading/investing have a financial element.
In fantasy sports, participants may pay entry fees to join a league or compete for prize money.
In trading and investing, investors may buy securities in the hopes of generating a profit or receiving dividends.
Data and Technology
Both fantasy sports and trading/investing rely on data and technology to inform decision-making.
When it comes to fantasy sports, participants use statistical data to evaluate players and make trades.
These days, sports lines are largely a function of algorithms that process data about various players and teams and are then adjusted to give the sportsbook their viggorish (vig), or house edge.
For example, if a team is 50-50 to win a game, a sportsbook might list them as -110 odds (i.e., bet $110 to win $100) to capture their vig, or essentially a fee for processing your wager.
In trading/investing, investors use financial data and software to track performance, conduct research, and execute trades.
Emotional and Psychological Factors
Both fantasy sports and trading/investing involve emotional and psychological factors.
In fantasy sports, participants may experience elation, disappointment, or frustration based on their team’s performance. Many games are decided by a single key play or moment, or perhaps an officiating mistake.
In trading/investing, investors may experience fear, greed, or anxiety based on market movements and their portfolio performance.
Sports betting is similar to fantasy sports, so we won’t rehash too much of what’s said above
Here we’ll focus on the concepts of expected value, exploiting small edges, and money management in terms of sports betting’s similarities to trading/investing.
In both sports betting and trading/investing, the concept of expected value is very important.
Expected value (EV) is a measure of the expected outcome of a bet or investment, taking into account the probability of winning or losing and the potential payouts or returns.
Essentially, it’s a way of measuring whether a particular bet or investment is likely to be profitable in the long run.
In sports betting, bettors can calculate the expected value of a bet by considering the odds of a particular outcome and the potential payout.
For example, if the odds of a particular team winning a game are +150, and a bettor places a $100 bet on that team, they stand to win $150 if the team wins (plus their original $100 bet is returned, so effectively turning $100 into $250).
However, if the team loses, the bettor loses their initial $100 bet.
Let’s say they have a 40% chance of being right and a 60% chance of being wrong.
The expected value of this bet can be calculated as follows:
EV = (probability of winning * potential payout) – (probability of losing * initial bet) EV = (0.4 * $150) – (0.6 * $100) EV = $60 – $60 EV = $0
In this case, the expected value of the bet is $0, which means that the bettor is essentially taking a coin flip with no inherent advantage.
Over time, making bets with an expected value of $0 will expect to result in… yep, nothing.
Similarly, in trading and investing, investors can calculate the expected value of an investment by considering the potential returns and the associated risks.
To give a stylized example, if an investor purchases a stock for $100 and has a bull case with 60% probability where he expects it to appreciate to $120 in a year, the expected return is 20%.
However, if the stock decreases in value to $80, the expected return is -20%, and expects there to be a 40% chance of this.
The expected value of this investment can be calculated as follows:
EV = (probability of making a profit * potential return) – (probability of making a loss * potential loss) EV = (0.6 * 20%) – (0.4 * 20%) EV = 12% – 8% EV = 4%
In this case, the expected value of the investment is 4%, which means that the investor has a positive expected value and can expect to make a profit over time.
Exploiting Small Edges
In both sports betting and trading/investing, success often depends on the ability to identify and exploit small edges.
In sports betting, this may involve identifying mispriced odds or taking advantage of biases in the betting market.
For example, we mentioned above how betting odds are often a function of betting algorithms.
Are these algorithms biased? Are they neglecting important information?
In trading and investing, this may involve identifying undervalued assets or taking advantage of market inefficiencies.
For example, in sports betting, a bettor may identify a team that is undervalued by the betting market and place a bet on them before the odds adjust. (And the act of betting causes prices to shift when done in a size that influences market pricing.)
This can give the bettor a small edge and increase their chances of making a profitable bet.
Similarly, in trading and investing, an investor may identify an undervalued stock or asset and purchase it before the market recognizes its true value.
This can give the investor a small edge and increase their chances of making a profitable investment.
Both sports betting and trading/investing require careful money management in order to be successful in the long run.
This means having a plan for how much to bet or invest, and sticking to that plan even in the face of short-term losses.
In sports betting, this may involve limiting the size of bets to a certain percentage of one’s bankroll, and avoiding making large bets in an attempt to recover losses.
In trading and investing, this may involve diversifying one’s portfolio and avoiding the temptation to invest in “hot assets” or things one doesn’t understand well.
The ancient battle game of chess and trading/investing share many similarities in terms of strategic thinking, thinking ahead, and considering multiple possible outcomes.
In both chess and trading/investing, strategic thinking is crucial.
In chess, the player must carefully consider their moves and anticipate their opponent’s responses to those moves.
Similarly, in trading/investing, the investor must carefully consider their investment decisions and anticipate how the market will respond after they make those decisions.
Both require the ability to analyze and assess risks and opportunities and make decisions based on the best available information.
One of the most important skills in both chess and trading/investing is the ability to think ahead.
In chess, players must anticipate their opponent’s potential moves and plan their own responses accordingly.
Similarly, investors must anticipate potential market movements and plan their investment strategies accordingly.
Both entail the ability to anticipate future scenarios and plan accordingly.
Thinking of Multiple Possible Outcomes
In chess, each move creates multiple possible outcomes, which the player must consider and evaluate.
Similarly, in trading/investing, each investment decision creates multiple possible outcomes, which the investor must also consider and evaluate.
This requires the ability to assess different potential outcomes and make effective decisions based on the best available information.
Permutations of Various Positions
In both chess and trading/investing, there are many different permutations of positions to consider.
In chess, each move creates a new position, which the player must analyze and evaluate.
For example, if you make a move in chess you must consider your opponent’s valid replies.
If they have three likely replies and you have three likely responses to that, that’s 9 possible branches just with one set of moves. If it’s another 3 and 3, that’s 81, and so on.
The branches can become very large very quickly. So how many moves you can think ahead largely depends on the position. In some cases where there are lots of permutations, you might realistically only see 1-2 moves ahead.
In the case of a “forced line” – where only one progression of moves makes sense so many moves out (perhaps due to a set of obvious piece captures or for the sake of safety or otherwise rational play) – you might see many moves ahead.
This process of imagining moves in the proper sequence going forward is known as “calculating” in chess.
Similarly, in trading/investing, each investment decision creates a different type of portfolio, and there are many possible outcomes that can create.
Like in chess, many things are dependent on other things.
The Use of History to Help Inform the Present
Many chess openings, attacks, defenses, variations, and gambits are named after places (e.g., Sicilian Defense, English Opening) or chess masters of the past (e.g., Benko Gambit, Bugayev Attack).
Some have multiple names, named after places, old chess players, or both. For example, the opening move 1. b4 is known as both the Polish Opening and the Sokolsky Opening.
Modern chess players study these old chess positions and learn new positions and tactics off them, which adds to what’s called chess “theory” – or what’s considered the most precise way to play when in certain positions.
Market participants also study economic, financial, and market history to help place what’s happening now in the proper context and to help them understand what’s likely to transpire.
This helps them better understand their risks and how to position portfolios going forward.
The Use of AI in Decision-Making
Financial markets are heavily influenced by algorithmic decision-making.
Likewise, chess is very well-known for its computer programs (e.g., Stockfish, AlphaZero) that help chess players train and improve their games.
Chess computers have been considered better than all human players since 1997 (when IBM project Deep Blue defeated World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov) and have significantly overtaken human player skills since.
Back then, it was a game of “man vs. machine” where it might be considered embarrassing for a human to lose to AI.
Today, they are largely not viewed as adversaries because it’s so well-known that AI is far ahead in its ability to process and calculate.
Instead, man and machine work in harmony to teach each other (mostly the machine teaching the human).
The best chess players today operate at an ELO rating of 2800-2900 while the top chess engines exceed ratings of 3600. They are also available as smartphone apps.
In the markets, algorithms can process data faster, better, and less emotionally than humans, so markets react almost instantly to new information.
Open System vs. Closed System
Markets – Open System
Trading and investing are considered open systems because they are complex systems that are subject to a constantly changing and evolving environment.
The factors that influence market conditions, such as economic and political events, can change rapidly and are difficult to predict with accuracy.
Additionally, the actions of traders and investors themselves can affect market conditions, creating a feedback loop of cause and effect that further complicates the system.
As a result, it is difficult to create a comprehensive model that can perfectly predict market outcomes.
Chess – Closed System
On the other hand, chess is considered a closed system because the rules of the game are well-defined and fixed.
The game does not change significantly over time, and the number of possible moves and outcomes is finite and can be calculated.
Although there is a degree of unpredictability in terms of the moves that an opponent may make, the game can be analyzed and strategized in a relatively straightforward manner.
The nature of these systems changes the influence of AI in each.
In the case of trading and investing, AI can be used to identify patterns and trends in vast amounts of data and to predict future market outcomes with a degree of accuracy.
This can help traders and investors make more informed decisions and manage risks.
However, because of the open and complex nature of the market, AI is not able to provide a perfect solution, and human intuition and judgment remain important in making final decisions.
In chess, AI has been able to make significant advances in recent years, using machine learning techniques to analyze large amounts of game data and to play at a level that exceeds that of even the best human players.
Because the game is a closed system with a fixed set of rules, AI is able to analyze all possible outcomes and make optimal moves.
In this way, AI has been able to improve the game by offering new insights and strategies, and it has even been able to identify new moves and techniques that were previously unknown and unused by human players.
Summary – Trading-Like Games & Alternatives to Trading
In this article, we covered several games most similar to trading:
- Poker: Poker is a card game that involves strategic decision-making, risk assessment, and reading opponents’ behavior. Like trading and investing, poker players need to manage risk, make informed decisions based on available information, and anticipate their opponents’ actions.
- Monopoly: Monopoly is a board game where players buy and sell properties, collect rent, and invest in improvements. It requires players to make strategic decisions about which properties to acquire, how much to invest in upgrades, and how to manage their cash flow.
- Acquire: Acquire is a board game where players invest in hotel chains and try to acquire the most valuable portfolio. It involves risk management, strategic decision-making, and predicting market trends.
- Settlers of Catan: Settlers of Catan is a popular board game where players trade resources with each other to build settlements and cities. It requires players to balance their resource production, negotiate with other players, and make strategic investments.
- Stock Market Games or Simulators: There are several online and offline stock market games that simulate real-world trading and investing. These games allow players to practice investing with virtual money, learn about market trends, and experiment with different investment strategies.
- Bridge: Bridge is a card game that requires strategic decision-making, risk assessment, and teamwork. Players need to work together to communicate and anticipate their opponents’ moves, much like traders and investors need to work together to make informed decisions.
- Fantasy Sports: Fantasy sports games involve creating a virtual team of real-world athletes and competing against other players based on the athletes’ real-world performance. It requires players to assess the value of different players, manage risk, and make strategic decisions based on available information.
- Sports Betting: Both sports betting and trading/investing involve taking risks with the goal of making a profit. In both activities, individuals analyze data and use their knowledge to make informed decisions about where to bet their money, whether it’s in sports outcomes or financial markets.
- Chess: Chess and trading/investing both require strategic thinking, the ability to analyze multiple variables, and anticipate future outcomes. In both activities, success is determined by making informed decisions based on available information, as well as understanding and adapting to your opponent’s moves.