Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Run Your Poker Game Like a Business…(Part I)

One of the most common things Lorin and I talk about nowadays are concepts concerning poker that have nothing to do with the play at the table. For any aspiring pro, or even for somebody looking to advance recreationally, there are a myriad of other factors to consider. We have touched on this topic before but I think that it bears it’s own blog post at it is some great advice gleamed from our successes (but more often from our mistakes) that doesn’t give away strategy to those Short Stack Haters that read the blog just to get a glimpse at our playbook.

There is no doubt that 95% (if not more) of the system we use at the table came from Lorin. The only reason that he keeps me around is that I have a much larger experience base for life factors away from the table. As he has really started to make some serious money, he needed someone to help him out with the other complications that inevitably arise from a rapid ascent into unknown territories. It worked out for both of us. He gave me the play book for shortstacking and I gave him advice on financial issues, marketing, “significant other” issues etc. (while we both got to hang out and waste time under the guise of “meetings”).

To get to the point, I have always believed that there is an optimal way to do EVERYTHING. The difference between “optimal” and “adequate” will often be quite small but their importance cannot be overstated. This should be apparent to students of the game. The difference between being a 1.00bb per 100 winner and a 1.25bb per 100 winner is monumental. While that seems like a tiny margin, (especially if a bb is only $1 or $2) over the course of a year, that is the difference between living in you grandma’s basement and buying your first house.

So, in order to give some hard learned advice to our loyal Short Stack Hero readers, here are some points that will hopefully help you make the transition to pro or help you out with some of the issues arising from that transition if you are already there….

1. Find the best Vendors…..
Before I sold The Bar that I owned, I got very good at looking for the right business partners. Some people may call them Vendors or Suppliers, but I always looked at them as business partners and that may have an ingredient of my success (and I will take this oppurtunity to brag, I won MAXIM magazine's "Great American Neighborhood Bar Search" a year and a half after I took over). Look for the best deal. Just because a certain company (poker site) is the one everybody uses, doesn’t mean that it is the best fit for you. If I found a liquor rep that was hungry and creative, I knew that we could make each other a lot of money if we worked together. There is a reason that Lorin and I both play predominately at POKERWORLD and speak so highly of RAKEBACKNATION. They have been fantastic partners (and us telling you this doesn’t hurt our game at all). Everybody Plays at PokerStars and FullTilt. But why? They are all the public know. They have great marketing plans. But ask yourself, what pays for that marketing and does it help you. Tilt may be superior to PokerWorld when it comes to High Stake game availability. But you know what? I don’t play $10 $20NL and up so I don’t care. Pokerworld has plenty of games at the stakes that I play and a great rotation of tournaments so the rest is just window dressing. But here is the real kicker. Smaller sites pay better because they are looking to build market share. If I was running a promotional event at the Bar, I didn’t approach Budweiser for prizes or financial support because they don’t budget much for Promotions because they don’t have to. They own the market. Coors, however, was awesome to work with because they want some of Bud’s market share. Same with Poker sites. Last Month I raked $4,711.63. With the rake chase that was done with RakeBack Nation, I earned a bonus of $575. A player that raked the same as me at Full Tilt only earned a bonus of $75. Not to mention that I earned 33% Rakeback while he only earned 27%. So, for the same amount I play I earned $2146 ($4700 x .33 = $1551 + $575) while he earned $1344 ($4700 x .27 = $1269 + $75). I won’t even mention the almost $800 I made from PokerWorld’s Gold stack bonus’ (although I guess I just did). So by choosing the right partner and nothing else, I made $782 extra last month. In a year, that is $9384. And that doesn’t require getting better at the game at all, just running your “business” better. I have nothing bad to say about FullTilt as I still play there (ie. Use that vendor) for some things, I just found a better fit to my current business model with PokerWorld as my major “business partner”. It is just choosing the smartest way to do business.

2. Stay up to speed on the Market.

Almost every industry has industry related material such as books, magazines, seminars etc. Poker is no different and actually has a HUGE volume of material available. And I am not just speaking of books on strategy, but also magazines, pod casts, websites etc. It is important to stay abreast of the “market” to help keep up with trends and be knowledgeable about your business. Not to mention, it is a great source of information for tips on the game such as the emergence of the UTG bet as a steal, common SNG strategies etc. It also fills you in on broad subjects like the UIGEA and the legal battles over Poker that may be going on in your state or country. If you owned a bar, you would need to be aware of possible changes to the liquor law. This is no different. After all, if you are going to be a pro, you should be an expert in the field.

Next Week I will address some other issues such as surrounding yourself with the right people and using all the tools (especially technology) to your advantage.


Drew said...

Thanks Travis. I think that the extent to which these and other non-strategy concerns are neglected by most players and most player discussions is pretty astounding. Looking forward to Part II!

jolly toper said...

Part 2 will be just as engrossing once Team Charlatan gathers their delusional thoughts.

jolly toper said...

Travis, how did you sell a bar that you only had a 5% stake in to begin with? Even bartender Peat Moss is baffled by the figures.

Lorin Yelle said...


Please find something useful to do with your time.

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