What in the world does pokerhave to do with responsible personalfinance? I became interested inthe recent upsurge of televised gamesand was surprised to find more parallelsbetween good poker playing andsavvy money management than a non-playerwould casually assume.
Watch and Learn
Poker experts agree that first andforemost, before you even sit down ata table, you need to study and graspthe fundamentals. Not doing so can bevery expensive and not much fun. Yet,how many of us did that before launchinginto our first IRA, 401(k), or outsideinvestment scheme? Only a few, I'dwager, pun intended. As logical as it isfor physicians—committed to studyingand training—my nonscientific surveyof friends and colleagues turned upnary a one, including me.
Once you have the basics, the pokerpros say that before you risk a buck,watch good players to see how the fundamentalsare actually applied. Pick upas much as you can use. People watchingcan't be beat at a poker tournament.How few of us actually hung outwith someone we could learn somethingfrom before we committed ourhard-won HMO money? Didn't weapprentice or practice by ourselves intraining before we took on our firstpatient, scalpel, etc? The time andmoney you could spend on books arealso a commonality of professionalinvestment that will return you manytimes the effort, whether in medicine,poker, or financial management.
Know when to Hold
Other shared characteristics betweenfinancial success and winning poker arepatience and discipline. These are reallythe keys to the kingdom. Marketsand pots come and go, but you will succeedin the end if you stick to your plan.How about the rule of living withinyour means in poker and life? Howabout the all-time biggie, "Don't takeyour emotions out on your money?" It'sno wonder there are so few consistentlywinning poker players.
If you are really interested in learningpoker, by the way, I suggest (For Dummies; 2000) oranything by David Sklansky, thedoyenne of poker writers. I'll close byleaving you with some more poker wisdomthat is directly translatable tomanaging personal finances away fromthe gaming table. Call it an all-you-can-eatmoney smorgasbord.
Jeff Brown, MD, CPE, a practicing
physician who is a partner on
the Stanford University Graduate
School of Business Alumni Consulting
Team, teaches in the Stanford
School of Medicine Family
Practice Program. He welcomes questions or
comments at email@example.com.