One of my hobbies is poker. I have been playing the game since I was a kid. It’s fun. It’s amusing. It’s sociable. It’s also important to note that if you play well, it can help with one’s finances, ie you win more than you lose. And although I will never make it to the world series, overt the years, I have won significantly more than I have lost. Over the years, the stakes for which we play have increased and are now at the point where one needs to be careful. For me, poker is not about making big bucks – and it’s not about taking your buddy down. It’s about fun and camaraderie. I often show my hand when I am not called – that’s sportsmanship.
That said, there are many similarities between poker and public relations (my profession), that should be noted:
1. Never bitch – Ever notice those sorry people that sit on the sidelines? The wallflowers? They complain about everything. They also tend to have few (if any) friends. Every circumstance is wrong – and that’s the reason why they lost at poker – or were crucified by an angry public. If things are going against you (and they sometimes do), stop complaining. Every time you do, you look like a putz and two things happen. First you look like a sore loser and second, when things finally go your way, people won’t call you (in poker) or be interested in your achievements (in PR)
2. Play the cards you are dealt, not those you wish you had. Sounds like a no brainer, but it seldom is. It’s easy to imagine that you have that elusive straight flush, but it’s no fun looking down at your hand to discover that all you have is a miserable pair of threes. It’s no secret that they way you’d play your threes is entirely different from how you’d play the straight flush. In PR, work what you have and stop wishing for other scenarios – they seldom change
3. Show up on time – another cardinal rule of poker and PR that is often broken. If the game starts at 8:15pm, then show up at 8:15pm. In as much as it’s not cool to show up late for a client meeting, it’s not cool to show up late at poker. Why? Well, for two reasons. First, you want to feel out the flow and tempo of the game before it actually begins and second, arriving late is likely to stress you out. It’s never good to arrive stressed out at a client – and it’s never good to arrive stressed out at a poker game. You need to be relaxed to win.
4. Look around you. Poker, like PR is not all about you – it’s about your surroundings as well. In as much as you’d never issue a news release without understanding what your competitors are doing, so to do you need to look around at what’s happening with the rest of the table. Proud of your trip fives, well, what happens if a flush is on the board and you’re playing against four others, each of whom are raising … well guess what? Suddenly your trip fives are not that good.
That said, poker’s just a game and thank goodness I do not need to make a living playing it.