“Personality Poker may be a game, but it provides some serious results.”

Wouter Koetzier, Global Innovation Lead, Accenture


What is Personality Poker?

Over 100,000 people in Fortune 500 companies around the world have played Personality Poker® to drive innovation and high-performing teams. Isn’t it time you gave it a try? Personality Poker is a game that uses specially created playing cards. Each card has a suit, color, number and a word that describes particular behaviors such as “creative, “ “analytical,” “organized,” and “empathetic.” There are 52 cards with 52 different words.

What Do You Learn?

The goal is to trade cards with others so that you end up with 5 cards where the words best describe how you see yourself. You can also have others “gift” cards, so that you can see how others perceive you. Based on the suits, colors, and numbers in your hand, you will discover:

  • your preferred innovation style
  • your innovation blind spots
  • the people who you need to complement your hand yet most likely will avoid
  • what is missing from your team that is limiting innovation and success
  • the culture of your organization and its impact on innovation
  • how others perceive you, and why any difference from your own perception can be damaging
  • …and much more

What is Included?


After studying countless industries throughout the world, Stephen had a breakthrough while working with a Formula One race car team in London. What if innovation teams could work as efficiently and predictably as the pit crews who service the race cars? The work of the pit crew is amazingly complex. A tenth of a second delay can be the difference between winning and losing. While watching the crew, Shapiro identified a few principles that made these teams achieve a more consistent and repeatable performance:

  • Everyone is in their optimal position
  • Every role is crucial
  • Everyone knows the exact function they need to perform

Stephen recognized the power of the collaboration and repeateble results of the pit crews, and knew that he needed to find a way to apply these principles to innovation teams.


Personality Poker has been played by more than 100,000 people around the world. And although there was a mountain of anecdotal evidence supporting its value, one question remained: Is Personality Poker truly valid? Stephen knew he needed an expert on psychological testing. That person was Michael Wiederman, professor of psychology at Columbia College in South Carolina. With Michael’s help, a series of surveys were created that were designed to provide the statistical proof. Analysis of the data revealed the multi-dimensionality of individuals and why people cannot and should not be labeled too rigidly. It also showed why the conversations that take place during Personality Poker are one of the most valuable aspects of the process.


Poker cards have a long and rich history. By some accounts, card games were in existence in China as far back as the third century. The poker cards used today in casinos can be most closely tied back to Tarot cards, originating in Italy sometime around the mid-1400s in Milan. The symbolism and meaning of the cards has shifted in modern times, yet the question remains as to how the suits in the Tarot deck map to those in poker cards.  In his song “Shape of My Heart,” Sting provides a simple and somewhat accurate depiction of the meaning of each suit. He sings, “I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier. I know that the clubs are weapons of war. I know that diamonds mean money for this art. But that’s not the shape of my heart.” The actual meaning behind each suit is a bit more complex Unlike the ancient Tarot cards, there is no magic or mystery in Personality Poker.  It is not left to divine intervention or luck. You consciously choose the cards that best fit your style. Personality Poker is a tool for for entertainment and educational purposes, to help us understand that we can derive “personalities” from the symbols and hidden meanings of this ancient practice.

Want to experience Personality Poker for yourself?

In 30 seconds you can learn your personality, save your hand, and share it with others.




Contrary to conventional wisdom, opposites do not attract.  As a result, organizations hire and retain people who think alike. Although this is great for efficiency, it destroys innovation.

The key to high performing innovation teams is make sure that each individual is “playing to their strong suit” while the organization as a whole is “playing with a full deck.”


You can also buy:

Books in Bulk
Personality Poker Card Decks


Our Personality Poker event created a buzz that continued well past the event. A month later, I continue to see evidence that the awareness the game fosters really stuck.” Michele Egger, Chevron, Innovation Operations 
Personality Poker is a simple yet extremely effective tool for understanding personality mixes and their impact on driving or blocking innovation.” Andrew Bushell, Former Head of Innovation, Novartis Consumer Health
Personality Poker is both enlightening and engaging. It’s a great exercise for any organization to inject some excitement while learning how to create functional teams.” Tom Morgan, General Manager of Innovation & Process Improvement, Voith Industrial Services

Review by Sally Hogshead
Author of Fascinate
Steve Shapiro’s Personality Poker is a seriously fun way to wrap our heads around our own and others’ work styles. Understanding leads to improved communication, appropriate expectations, and better work.”
Jack Covert, retired President of 800-CEO-READ, published in his INC.com  
Personality Poker in Action

Watch clips of Stephen Shapiro playing Personality Poker with 300 executives.