Motivate Your Team with Poker Points

I’m sure you have heard of using a points system to motivate and reward behavior. Poker Points is a unique and fun way to incentivize your team.

This rewards activity sparks energy and ignites the competitive spirit (especially if the “winner” gets a prize). Simply put, the person with the best poker hand at the end of a designated period of time wins the prize.

You can use Poker Points in either of the following situations:

  • To reward specific behaviors (i.e.: going the extra mile, sharing new ideas, or identifying methods to improve a process)
  • To encourage active participation (i.e.: engagement at staff meetings/retreats or training)

Supplies you will need:

  • One deck of playing cards (with Jokers removed) for every 5 people on the team. If you have 6 – 10 people, use two decks.  If you have 11 – 15 people, use three decks, etc.
  • A Cheat Sheet (download here) that describes how Poker hands are valued.

Basic Instructions:

  1. Begin by ensuring everyone understands how Poker hands are scored and provide the included Cheat Sheet for clarity (the best 5 cards wins).
  2. Shuffle the deck(s) and randomly give each person two cards to begin with.
  3. Describe the behaviors that will earn additional cards and communicate when the contest will end.
  4. When someone demonstrates the desired behavior, award them with an additional card.
  5. Once someone has 5 cards, they can continue to earn new cards. Any time an additional card is rewarded, the person must return one card to the deck. (So, a team member can only keep a total of 5 cards, but they can continue to improve their hand by receiving additional cards.)
  6. Cards should be kept secret from each other until the contest is over.
  7. When the contest is over, determine who has the best hand and award a prize. (Note: if you use more than one deck, it is possible to get “Five of a Kind”, which would be considered the highest hand.)

Two examples of how you can use Poker Points:

  1. To encourage team members to support other team members by going “above and beyond”
    • Contest duration: one month
    • Each team member will be given two cards at the start.
    • Team members and the leader will reward others for going “above and beyond”.
    • When someone is “rewarded” they go to the team leader and draw another card.
    • At the end of the month, determine who has the winning hand and award that team member a prize.
    • Option: Secretly keep a list of everyone who nominates a team member and give them a special prize at the end.
  2. Encourage participation in a training workshop.
    • Contest duration: the length of the training workshop
    • Participants will each be given two cards. (If the class is less than 4 hours, give everyone 3 cards to begin with.)
    • Team members and the facilitator can reward others for any of the following:
      • Sharing best practices
      • Asking good questions
      • Winning games during the training
      • Returning from breaks on time
    • The facilitator will pass out cards as they are earned.
    • At the end of the workshop, the person with the best hand will win a prize.

I hope you enjoy this spin on using a point system to reward desired behaviors. As always, you can alter this activity to work for your team and the amount of time you have. Please share other variations in the comment section below.

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Comments 14

  1. Love the game for engagement and fun. My team likes to have fun while going through the work routine. One of our mottos: If we aren’t having fun, then we are not living life!

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