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All InPoker Night Lessons for Winning Big at Your Career
By Geoff Graber
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Geoff Graber
All right reserved.
Know the Rules -- Dead Money
I was four years old when my grandfather taught me how to play poker. Before we sat down to play, he would take all of the low cards out of the deck, leaving only the ten through ace of each suit. Each hand my grandfather dealt me was bright and colorful, filled with pictures of fantastical kings, queens, jacks, and the very recognizable first letter of the alphabet. Each hand I was dealt was a monster hand, but my grandfather's hands were just as strong. I soon learned that two queens beat two jacks, that five cards in a row formed a straight, and that, for reasons completely unbeknownst to me, three aces were somehow better than two aces and two kings.
Although poker would eventually prove to be a complex game, demanding years of practice and dedication, my first experiences with the game were simple. More importantly, they were fun. My grandfather knew that to overwhelm me at a young age with all of the intricacies and subtleties of poker would impede any initial enjoyment I might get out of the game. You have to crawl before you can run.
Once I was comfortable playing with the high cards, he added the rest of the deck all at once. Once I understood five-card stud, we moved on to seven-card stud. In no time at all we were playing a handful of different poker games for the pennies and nickels we'd find in the couch. My grandfather understood that the key to success was to make every task simple and fun. It was the application of this very idea that has made all the difference in my life and in my career.
The process of finding the fun in everything you do is how I fell in love with cards and, later in life, how I fell in love with business. My grandfather took this big game called poker and simplified it so even my our-year-old mind could understand it. Getting comfortable with the basics is the first step to enjoying the game and therefore the first step to being successful at the game.
It was only a few years ago that I was first introduced to the game of No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em. While I had been a poker player since the day my grandfather first shoved a deck of cards in front of me, I didn't become familiar with the wonderful game of No-Limit Hold 'Em until pretty late in my poker-playing life.
Once I started playing No-Limit Hold 'Em, there was no turning back. This was the poker game I had been looking for my entire life. While a lifetime of playing poker made it easy to jump in and understand No-Limit Hold 'Em, it was the complexities and the nuances of the game that kept me coming back. For the first time in my life I found myself reading poker strategy books, looking to the masters of the game to elevate my strategy and simultaneously entertain me with poker stories.
There was something about No-Limit Hold 'Em that clicked with me as no other game ever had. Something about the two cards you're dealt at the start of each hand; the community cards that all the players share to build the best hand; the strategy, both in the cards and in the players; and the unavoidable factor of luck all combined to paint a picture that just made sense to me. It all seemed so familiar. It was a game I felt naturally at ease playing, as if I had been playing it my whole life. In many ways, that feeling wasn't far off the mark.
It was within the first few months of my courtship with No-Limit Hold 'Em that I began seeing similarities between strategies I was using at the poker table and strategies I had been using at the office for years. Parallels began popping up everywhere. I realized I often "slow-played" clients in the same fashion I would slow-play pocket aces. Even the boardroom I sat in every day for meetings began to take shape in my mind as a glorified poker table, with each client and colleague having an invisible stack of chips in front of them. I noticed that some players in the boardroom had more "chips" than others, and could therefore bully the rest of the table around, while other players were running out of chips and were being forced to make careless, desperate decisions. Seeing the similarities between business and poker felt partly like a revelation, but it also felt . . . so obvious.
The more I thought about it, the more every facet of my business life began to mirror the lessons I was learning in No-Limit Hold 'Em. My career as a whole seemed to flow like a tournament lesson taken directly from T.J. Cloutier and Tom McEvoy's Championship No-Limit & Pot-Limit Hold 'Em (New York: Cardoza, 2004). At certain points in my career I played tightly and aggressively, waiting for the other players to knock each other out before I made any big moves. At other times in my career I have had to play some big hands and take some big risks in order to make the final table -- just like a No-Limit Hold 'Em tournament.
Finding the similarities between business and poker has greatly changed my life and led to greater success in my career. Beyond that, it has taken the stressful corporate world and transformed it into an exciting and challenging poker game -- a game that is built around rules and strategies; a game that can be beat. Bottom line: It has made my job fun. And just like my grandfather proved while teaching me thirty-odd years ago, by making something fun and simple, you make it that much easier to succeed.
Excerpted from All In by Geoff Graber Copyright © 2005 by Geoff Graber. Excerpted by permission.
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