Monday, March 30, 2009

Back to Business

The successful man is the one who finds out what is the matter with his business before his competitors do -Roy L Smith

I've been playing poker for a living over a year now, and when it's your sole source of income you quickly find you have to treat it like a business. As you probably know, a business is not a simple thing. You need not only to offer a valuable service or product, but you also need to know: your customers; how best to package/present your product/service; when and how to advertise; what other similar businesses are doing.... In short, there are lots of factors to consider. This is certainly the case for poker.

You have to know your customers. I'm sure you've all played against a certain player who you have mentally earmarked as the best person in the world to sit down at a poker table with. If you don't have a means for finding this person whenever they are playing you are sacrificing a huge financial edge. This is why having 'buddylists' and player tracking software is so important. Any money spent on sites/software which tell you the location of the best tables to play is money that could not be better spent. It is also equally wise to make a note of players who are very good so they can be avoided whenever possible.

You need to know your business. If you haven't studied, analysed, discussed and dissected the most common situations to your particular poker game, then you are merely gambling and not running a business. The only substitute for a sound theoretical understanding of the game is substantial experience - long enough that the effects of variance play no more than a marginal role in your results. Ideally, for the best results the two should be combined.

Indeed, it is often not enough to have acquired only a basic grasp of the game in the past - you should be taking regular revision sessions and learning the latest ideas and strategies. Poker is a constantly changing industry, and failing to change with it will leave your business behind. Fortunately there are now great applications for reviewing your play, and scores of sites which provide either useful poker discussion, poker training, or both.

Along with all the above, the most important thing to remember is that you also have to work hard! You can have the best business in the world, but if your employees only work part time or half-heartedly you cannot help but struggle. You need to make sure targets are met (i.e. hours per week), enough effort is given (i.e. playing without taking phonecalls etc.) and there is no counter-productive behaviour in the office (i.e. drinking at the desk, smoking weed in the toilets etc.). I truly believe that hard work can make up for almost all other shortcomings.

I guess I could say that I know running a business is hard, but I'm pretty sure that the online business of playing poker doesn't come close to the difficulties of doing business in the real world and I don't like to be presumptuous. Suffice to say that whatever business you're involved in, it is sensible to consider as much as possible in order to give your business the best chance to succeed. May your own go from strength to strength -unless of course you're one of my direct competitors! ;-)

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