Howard Lederer on Going “Poker Broke”

Lederer: There’s this term in the poker world, “poker broke,” where you’re still living okay, there’s still someone who’s loaned you money or is bankrolling you and you’re still playing in big games, but that only happens if you have the reputation that goes along with that bankroll that you’re willing to risk.  So, there’s certainly a downside to going broke, but you’re not out of the game.  It’s not like you stopped playing poker and you go find a job, you know, somewhere else.  So, I mean, certainly, you know, you need to protect your reputation and you need to make sure the people at least still respect your game, or, you know, or else you really do have to play in such a way as to make sure that your ruin factor is sort of zero.  There are a couple, I think, important things about poker, you know, skills that you learn at the poker table that are very useful in business.  You know, one thing that poker trains you to do is, I mean, really, the definition of poker is trying to make good decisions, you know, under conditions of uncertainty, and certainly, in business, that comes up all the time.  You’re weighing the chances of certain things happening and you’re trying to maximize your results and sort of account for certain things, like recessions or, you know, a downturn in your market or too much competition.  You constantly have to allocate resources, whether they be, you know, manpower or money toward certain things that you just can’t know the future.  You know, I think, another thing, and possibly the most important thing, I think, that you bring from the poker table to the business world is I think a strong sense of sort of empathy.  To be a successful poker player, you really have to put yourself in the position or in the head of your opponent, and I think where that really comes into play is at the negotiating table.  So, you have to give the person you’re negotiating with sort of respect, but, at the same time, you’re trying to probe their weaknesses, figure out exactly, you know, how strong their hand is, how desperate are they to sell whatever it is, whatever, whether it’s a service or a product to you, and, you know, really try and negotiate them down to that price that’s not so good for you that it ends up being a bad relationship and, you know, but you certainly don’t want to overpay either, and I think the only way that you actually can consistently, you know, negotiation after negotiation after negotiation, and if you’re in business you’re just constantly negotiating with different people.  You’re always trying to find that right place where you’re not overpaying, you’re giving them the deal they need, and the only way you can do that is by thinking about their needs and what they’re bringing to the table as well as your own.  You can’t just be sort of negotiating in a one-sided way.

The Poker Professor talks about betting with no money.

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