Written By: Jason Bloom
Published in pokernews in January 2016
People often wonder how a person can make a living at poker, a game involving elements of chance. On the outside, some think of dark smokey back rooms, or at the very least a table full of sharks hustling a drunk tourist out of his vacation funds. The simple fact is neither of these can be further from the reality of what professional poker players do every day. This article will put into perspective the business side of professional poker, so that misconceptions can be tossed aside. Professional players should take heed of this article’s focus on the necessity of approaching your line of work like a business owner.
Risk versus reward and the direct pitting of skill sets against competition is the backbone of the journey that we ALL take in the professional world. Many realize this but most who are employed by others, or those who own their own businesses, do not. The relationship between the various skill sets of providers and businesses will determine their success in the marketplace. This equation also regulates a district managers prospective rise in their company, an accountants ability to be fortuitous, as well as a poker players ability to continuously profit over the long term.
When an accountant prepares the return of one of his or her clients, a restaurant owner serves a meal to a customer, or a poker player sits down at a table they are directly pitting their skill set against that of their competition. The accountant and the restaurant owner do not feel the victory or taste the sting of defeat in their pocket books for many weeks or months. Professional athletes and poker players feel the immediate financial gratification of success or the disappointment of failure as it is right in their face.
The accountant and restaurant owner must abide by the same direct laws of conflict and competition, only the outcome is delayed. Four out of five small businesses fail within the first five years of operation. The primary reason for this is that the provider of the good or service was inferior to their competition and their product delivery over the long run. A hard pill to swallow, but true nonetheless. Poker players are forced to realize their mistakes right away and pocket books are affected immediately. Ultimately, winning this competition of skill sets is promotion for the accountant, high profit and a successful business for the restaurant owner, and a high hourly win rate for the poker player. The fundamental route getting there was the same….. be better than your opponent or competition in the marketplace.
An argument to my theory is that the poker player gambles when competing with his opposition, the business owner does not. Au contraire!! Again, the two paths to success or failure are still at their essence the same. Imagine a professional, seasoned accountant being pitted against a beginner uneducated accountant. Whoever provides the better service is granted the fee in this scenario. It is obvious that the seasoned accountant will save their client more money and provide a better service than their weaker counterpart. Every so often though, the rookie accountant will be handed a slam dunk of a client, or the weak restaurant owner will be gifted a giant group of easy to please, high spending customers. The gambling aspect of these careers is present, it is just as not as ‘in your face’ as it is in poker. In the long run, the overall skill and experience level of the superior service providers will lead them to prevail against weaker competition in the free market. This equates to the better provider of ‘poker skill’ in the poker room continuously making money off the weaker competition.
For professional poker players and people in the business world, we must all strive for good lifestyle habits in and out of the ‘office’. Firstly, have hobbies outside of the workplace. These should be completely outside of casino/office walls. Secondly, do not bring your work home with you. This can be hard for us all, but it is of the upmost importance. Finally, it is imperative to take your success seriously by studying and constantly striving to be more educated than your competition.
In the end, professional poker as a business, is no different in its essence than other professions. We all take risks, whether they are visibly in your face like a pot being pushed in your direction or to your opponent, or hidden behind walls of company financial statements. We all make the best living that we can while trying to avoid the ‘grind’ or the ‘rat race’.
As for the author of this article, I haven’t worked a day in ten years……Stay sharp Poker Politico Nation!!
Written By: Jason Bloom