Sunday, December 18, 2011

Poker Rules: Sit Immediately to the Left of the Dumbest, Richest Person at the Table

James Altucher on some deep poker rules that also apply to  life:
C) As for poker itself, and this goes for all sorts of ways to making money: you want to sit immediately to the left of the dumbest, richest person at the table. He bets, then you raise – no matter what is in your hand. Then everyone else is out and it’s just you and him. In the long run you get all his money. This applies to every business endeavor.

D) Poker is a skill game pretending to be a chance game. Many things in life are like that: sales, negotiating, entrepreneurship, etc. All of these things have the element of chance in them but the ones who are skillful will take all the money from the ones who aren’t. The problem is: most people think they are good because it’s hard to rank yourself and many people go into denial when they lose money. They tell people, “oh, I broke even” when they lost money most of the night. How do you get better at any skill game:

– read as many books as you can written by players better than you
– study hands and the analysis of those hands
– study and think about your mistakes. Don’t regret your mistakes. You’ll always make mistakes. The better you are, the less mistakes you make. The only way to get better is to thoroughly analyze your mistakes. So the more mistakes you have, the more opportunities you have to get better. Of course, this applies to everything you do in life.
– talk to people smarter than you. Try to learn from them anything you can...

Be the Bank. I was once in Atlantic City and I was playing at a table with one of the best players I knew, Joe. Another guy at the table needed chips and Joe said, “I’ll sell you some of my chips.” So the guy handed over money and Joe sold him some of his chips (an activity that is illegal in Atlantic City but it was 4 in the morning and nobody cared.) I asked Joe later why he did that. Joe said, “Always be the bank. If you’re the source of everything at the table then it makes it harder for them to bet against you.” This is a weird version of “Give and You Shall Receive” but it works.
The full article by Altucher and more rules for poker and life are here.


  1. This article as well as your podcast about thinking like an entrepreneur reminds me about the movie 21, based on a true story about the MIT guys who came up with a way to beat the casinos at Blackjack. I don't think counting cards and such is legal, but that is probably one of the coolest and most genius instances of entrepreneurship ever.

  2. C'mon, we're supposed to take advice from a guy who says he's a net loser in poker? "Be the Bank" -- I have never ever seen this, even in home games. It is highly frowned upon by all players, even amateurs. Furthermore, if you are good enough to be a winning player, why the heck would you want a smaller stack?