septiembre 06, 2004

Poker and business

It seems as though the WashingtonPost has discovered poker.

The article opens with the standard "old media discovers the latest fad" information. We learn that poker is really hot and very hip these days. Which basically you know if you talk to anyone under 40. Then it discusses the twin growth engines of poker: the impact of the World Poker Tour and the internet offering an expanded opportunity to play poker. The article ends with the standard media warning about problem gambling.

A few notes on the article:
1. When poker is hot enough for the Washington Post to report on it, it makes me wonder whether poker's popularity has crested.
2. Annie Duke is not the only tutor Ben Affleck has had.
3. PokerRoom makes $4 million profit? Interesting.
4. PartyPoker/EmpirePoker (the largest site) is estimated to make $100-$200 million. Some of us have estimated even higher than $200 million.
There are still new sites opening up that are attempting to get a piece of the action. Some even offer the chance to play against well known tournament pros.

It's relatively easy to open up your own site. Some of the lesser known sites will let you have your own site -- you take care of the branding and marketing, and they run the servers and customer service for a percentage of the profits. I actually thought about doing this, but decided I'd rather make a fortune a more reputable way.

I know some people run underground games and make a fortune off of them. Again, I chose not to do this, as it's illegal, but it's only a misdemeanor, and you can usually get it plead down. Sure, it's a little bit like something you'd see on the Sopranos, but very good money can be made this way.

One reputable way to possibly make money off the poker boom (besides learning how to play and then playing) is to invest in the World Poker Tour. The WPT just went public recently and trades on the NASDAQ. I'd been planning to check out the WPT after the IPO. I still may buy some shares, but I'm wary. I'm already getting bored of the WPT, and that seems to be a common trait among those of us who play frequently. There's definitely plenty of possible growth for the WPT (eg, moving to a better known channel), but on the other hand, there's no suspense towards the end. You always know when the last hand will be, because the episode is almost over.

Poker is a great game, in some ways a metaphor for life. To be a good poker player, you'll need many of the same skills necessary for business. It can take awhile to learn how to play well, just like in business. You'll probably fail at first. You need to master many of the concepts, learn some basic odds (implied odds, effective odds, reverse implied odds, etc), and develop the experience necessary for intuition. You need to be good at gathering lots of information that you can synthesize and make a quick decision with.

I think I've rambled about poker enough for now.