Sometimes You Have To Roll A Hard Six

Techstars is rolling out a short video program with some of the entrepreneurs and mentors favorite quotes. I recorded a few of them recently – my first one is up.

I’m a huge Battlestar Galactica fan and think Commander William Adama has amazing leadership lessons for any entrepreneur. If you don’t know what “rolling the hard six” is, it’s a classic example of a high risk / high reward scenario. Per Urban Dictionary:

“Rolling a hard six has a probability of about 3% whereas rolling six by any other combination has about a 14% chance. A hard six pays 7 to 1 whereas a regular six pays only 7 to 6”

I’m not a craps player, but I love the metaphor. As an entrepreneur, you often have to combine luck with the right call at the right time. You can make the right call and be unlucky, or you can make the wrong call and be lucky. But when you find yourself in a jam, you often need to make the right call AND be lucky.

My imitation of Adama is pretty lame however.

  • Actually, if you’re using Vegas Odds (the standard bearer for Craps), Urban dictionary is way off. A hard six pays 10 for 1 (9 to 1). An easy 6 has a 11.1% (1 in 9) chance of being rolled. If the table you’re at is only paying 7 to 1 on a hard six, find a better table. Sometimes is good to be lucky, but even better to increase your odds by playing at the right table!

    • Outstanding point!

      • Iplayalotofcraps

        also note – if the 6 is the point, it pays 6 to 5 on your odds bet outside of your pass line bet (true odds). Then there are also the hopping bets which have a higher payout & actually might play better to your analogy of luck + right timing.

        The real key w/ a 6 is never to bet the Big 6…

        • It’s funny to watch the people who play the big 6 or place $5 on the 6. The key is to stay away from all proposition bets since the house take is anywhere from 10% to 16% on each roll. When relating to entrepreneurship, you see many entrepreneurs bet on the long shots when instead, they can make smaller, much smarter bets to build a much larger bankroll or at least stay in the game longer until the luck turns in their favor.

          Many billion dollar companies, like Facebook and Google didn’t start out saying they were going to be billion dollar companies. They made small bets that kept paying off and before they knew it, they grew into the behemoths they are today.

    • So, to your point, is it better to launch your company in the right city (table) than where birth/life randomly assigns you?

      • Absolutely. That’s one opportunity we have as entrepreneurs. We have the chance to improve our luck. Sometimes dumb luck works, but why not improve your chances of success if you have the choice? Look at many companies in Silicon Valley. The founders moved their to pursue their companies. Same with Boulder, CO where Brad lives. Many of those successful entrepreneurs were transplants from other areas.

        If you’re looking for funding, your odds of meeting people who can fund your business is going to be greater at a table with a lot of big money players than in a place where no big money players play.

      • You should launch your company where you want to live your life.

        • Absolutely. Life’s too short and business isn’t end-all. We repeat this mantra often in the midwest, most often for the tech companies, who only fantasize about the valley, Boulder, or NYC.

  • Dain Carver

    There was a story I heard that goes like this:”In the 18th Century, the commander of a few ships was coming into port with guns drawn to help regain his colony. As he was pulling into he to port he sees the town being ransacked by pirates. He turns to his crew after they had docked and screams: “Burn the ships!” His crew in bewilderment ask him to explain he retorted:”We are going to reclaim this town or die trying!” Lesson to entrepreneurs being: Learn to burn your ships!