Playing For The Push

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Image by sashimikid via Flickr

I’m in Las Vegas on business.  Of course, all work and no play isn’t a good thing and almost an impossible thing in this town.  Naturally I found myself sitting down for a few hands of Pai Gow Poker.  I can hear the serious gamblers out there moaning because it’s a slow-paced, uncomplicated game (unlike business!) but it’s also extremely social.  Most real gamblers don’t like the pace, the lack of a lot of “action” and are annoyed by conversations that go longer than “hit me” or “$10 behind the 6”.

Simply, the dealer gives you seven cards and you need to make a five-card poker hand and a two card hand out of them.  To win, both your hands have to beat the dealer’s two hands.  The interesting thing about Pai Gow is that there are times when you’re hoping not to lose more than you’re expecting or even trying to win and have to play your cards accordingly.  What actually happens is that you win one hand and lose one hand.  My traveling companion, who is just learning the game, said it well – you’re playing for the push.  I, of course, immediately said “blog post” and here’s why.

Hopefully we’re all trying to “win” as we manage our businesses.  Maybe not in the Charlie Sheen sense but in trying to do well and do good – making as much of a profit as we can while behaving ethically and giving something back.  That’s true even when economic conditions aren’t the best, as they’ve been in most businesses for the last few years.

There are some times, however, when you are playing for the push, either in the broad sense or in a specific situation such as a deal.  As an enterprise, surviving weak economic times such as these can often require bypassing high risk opportunities for a conservative business plan.  In negotiating a deal, playing for the push is often the best way to go so that both parties feel satisfied with the end result as each side wins and loses.

I left that tables up about 40% on the capital I put at risk but I had played for a few hours on an initially low investment and had fun.  I played to push a lot of hands during that time and it kept me going as it limited my losses from weak hands.  Sound like your business lately?

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