Board Games: More than Monopoly and Poker

While poker is a great activity to hone some of the quantitative and psychological skills necessary to be a great trader, there are many other games that provide a deeper element of strategic thinking that we can also relate to trading. At SIG, we attract all sorts of gamers, including world-class talent at poker, Magic, and backgammon, but my personal favorite way to practice is with board games. Not so fast, I’m not talking about a Monopoly marathon. Some of the best board games out there are European-style strategy games (often found at the top of the rankings at BoardGameGeek), that incorporate complex strategic elements and decision making.

Mastering these complex games requires a combination of intricate planning during play and careful analysis outside the game. In-game, you need to devise a long-term strategy, evaluate your decision tree many moves out, predict your opponents’ likely countermoves, etc. Most games are also amenable to some kind of statistical analysis, and any gamer has a lot to learn from spending time evaluating positions with other strong players. I started playing serious board games about six years ago with a group of SIG traders, and since then, we’ve spent hundreds of hours discussing and debating the strategy of various games. By working as a group, we’ve all developed into strong gamers much more quickly than we could on our own. When we began attending tournaments like the World Boardgame Championships, we won multiple titles in our core games of Agricola and Puerto Rico, with additional final tables in Agricola, Dominion, Egizia, and more.

The collaboration among our gaming group mirrors the trading environment at SIG. We spend a large portion of our work day debating interesting trades and collaboratively developing trading strategies. Trading has a vast space of potential strategies and a huge number of ingenious competitors. Winning at trading requires, among other skills, the same deep strategizing that’s involved in winning complex board games at a high level.

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