• Log In
  • Sign Up
    • Cake doesn't have a poker topic, I think it's time. What's your game of choice and favorite starting hand?

      Poker has been a meaningful part of my life at times. Sometimes for the social aspects, sometimes for the money. Usually for the competition. I used to play on PokerStars a lot when online was a thing, live games occasionally as well. I played the WSOP main event once.

    • I did play in the main event, unfortunately that is not me in the image above :)

      I made it fairly deep into day 2 of the event (close to 18 hours of play) and then the deck of cards went pretty cold and the dream ended there. Making money doesn't start until after at least 3 days of playing. The stamina required to stay focused hour after hour, for multiple days at a time is hard to understand. One hand or mental mistake can derail the entire tournament.

      To even get to the point where I was able to register for the event I had a very hot run of tournaments in the spring events around the SF bay area. I came close to a huge six figure score but in the end I couldn't outlast a few (much better) pros but was happy to have a new highlight in my amateur poker career. Being around so many professionals and holding my own gave me the confidence to book the 90 minute flight to Las Vegas and play a few larger field and buy-in tournaments.

      I did not follow very good bankroll management but I only play for fun and so I was happy to use a portion of the winnings for the "once in a lifetime (for me)" experience of the Main Event.

      This is what one of the multiple poker rooms full of hundreds of tables looks like... it's insane.

    • Wow, I almost missed this conversation. I added the topic 'retro gaming' because it's one of the few gaming categories that has a lot of followers and poker is kinda retro, no?

      Here in the Silicon Valley, there are a lot of hardcore poker players:

      Is it disturbing that for most of them their hands went cold from a business perspective after very promising starts?

    • With the popularity of e-sports I suppose Poker is retro now. Hard to believe its' been over 15 years since Chris Moneymaker changed the poker world and online gaming forever.

      I think Poker always provides a lot of great lessons that can be applied in the real world. You pointed out some of the SV business/poker players who's run went cold...

      When playing a tournament you can easily feel anxiety that the leader board is showing players with tons of chips and you're just in the middle of the pack, or worse.

      Sort of like how we might read about competitors on TechCrunch raising tons of money. In tournaments, sticking to your strategy focusing on one hand at a time, keeping your head down ignoring the leader board noise, not forcing the issue and finally waiting for the right moments to be aggressive.

      After a while you might pick your head up to find you've quietly built a really nice stack and when it counts and the tournament is "in the money" you're in the final 10% of players left. And that's when the fun really begins.

    • I can’t even imagine the stamina to play 18 hour days of poker. I get that there are meal breaks and nature calls, but still, you’re talking intense concentration for hours at a time. Clearly you’ve got some serious playing ability to win the local tournaments to qualify for a seat at the WSOP.

      Have you heard about a book called the Poker MBA? It’s a novel about a failing startup owner who meets a cardshark and successful unicorn founder at the Main Event. Like any such novel, it probably isn’t completely accurate on the tournament, or on how to right a struggling startup, but it definitely gave me a flavor for what the first few days of the event are like.

      If I ever meet a WSOP player in person, what’s a good question to ask to elicit a good story?

      By way of example for what I mean by a “good question,” I’ve found asking private pilots the question,

      “Have you ever had a near miss?

      tends to result in one or more interesting stories shared.

    • I think asking about a near miss is very applicable to Poker. I remember all too well the first time I was at a final table with first place being $100,000+. They put the money on the table when there were six of us left, I didn't win. I remember the hands 12 years later...

      I find that over time Poker players get jaded, burnt out and just a bit numb to everything. The winning never feels as good as the losing hurts... but something we all remember is the first time we had a "big" score and asking how that felt.

      When starting out I won $700 when I was in college and I felt like I had won the lottery. Everything is relative :)


      I need to check out that book the PokerMBA! I get asked about my old poker playing days and I always say that the people I played with were more interesting then the hands themselves. Which is why I stopped dreaming about playing cards for living and instead moved to the Bay Area to join the startup world.

      For example in my very first WSOP preliminary event around 2007 I met a really nice gentleman, clearly a very competent poker player but a businessman / entrepreneur type above all else. We were next to each other for 6+ hours so of course at some point you put the poker face away and get to chatting.

      Our mutual connection was that we both spent time living in California. He said he used to be in finance and decided to buy a used sporting goods company that was into franchising and financing and when he had time he would come to Vegas and play Poker.

      I had a million questions about how he was able to grow the company, what's it like running a public business etc. I was fascinated and probably played 2 hands in an hour as I was just totally into the business talk. He went on to play in a $1 million dollar buy-in tournament and was involved in a hand where he made someone fold four of a kind! Has to be one of the most interesting hands ever covered. "Russian businessman folds four-of-a-kind in $1M poker tournament" - NY Post

      ...I should have taken my poker winnings at the time and invested in his company Winmark.

      The stock price from the summer I met the CEO and until today.

    • ...I should have taken my poker winnings at the time and invested in his company Winmark.

      Wow!! You sure should have. I looked at their financial reports and revenue didn't grow much over the last 3 years but profits really surged. I don't know what they did, don't understand their business, but impressive.

      I once saw profit genius in action: I worked for a geophysical firm that did seismic surveys. Big crews, lots of capital equipment. Downtime was horrendously expensive. When a slowdown happened in the oil industry, all seismic companies took a very big hit that broke half of them.

      But at Western Geophysical, the CEO decided to keep the crews working, collecting a vast library of seismic data. Then instead of it being the property of, say, Exxon, we sold it for less money non-exclusively. So we could sell it to Exxon for half of what they would normally pay, and in exchange they'd let us also sell it to Shell, Conoco, BP, etc. It would take two sales for us to make what we had made with one.

      The thing is we averaged selling it 12 times for most surveys and printed money. It was embarrassing how much money we made while everyone else was laying off and folding. It was genius and guts in action.

    • Thanks for the tour inside the mind of a poker player—who knew asking the same question would work on both private pilots and tournament players?😁

      You’ve definitely had some amazing life experiences through poker. Very cool indeed!

      Based on what you’ve shared, I actually think you’ll get a lot out of the Poker MBA. Depending on how motivated you are, you could knock it out over a weekend—it’s a well-paced enjoyable read.

    • genius indeed, seems like a win win win. Company makes more money, people kept their jobs in a downturn and more customers had access to important data.

      I wonder what other great examples there are of companies that turned a tough market into a better business model and opportunity. (new thread?)

    • I just remembered the best question, which is an obvious one. How did you get inspired to play cards...

      For many they say the Matt Damon / Edward Norton movie Rounders was an inspiration. I loved the movie, hard to believe it's been over 20 years - "‘Rounders’ Turns 20: What the Film Taught Us About Poker, Risk-Taking, and Life In General"

      I grew up with grandmothers on both sides of the Atlantic (NYC & France). Both loved to play card games and I always knew I had games to look forward to when travelling to visit. They taught me all their tricks. Rummy, Bridge, Tarot.

    • I wonder what other great examples there are of companies that turned a tough market into a better business model and opportunity. (new thread?)


      If you create the conversation starter, I would definitely contribute to it.


    • So what have you been doing playing-wise since the pandemic began? Is there any talk of zooming tournaments?

      There’s so much nonverbals and body language that must go into betting that I don’t know if it would be the same game if played remotely.

    • good question... so back in March and April an app called Pokerrr was very popular among my friend group who play poker. There was basically a game going every night at varying buy-ins. It was for real money and anyone who brought an outside friend was responsible / on the hook for any money they lost and owed.

      It was also a really nice way to stay connected with friends and have something to do when things were at peak uncertainty.

      Back in March and april it was uncertain if the world series of poker would happen, seemed pretty obvious it wasn't but it wasn't announced right away, they moved it to this fall which i'm still pretty skeptical of. Sitting around a table for 6 - 12 hours a day touching the same cards etc makes the idea not very palatable.

      Not sure what this means for the future of live poker for a while.

      I'm sure online poker was booking in these little apps, in the US we can't play on the major poker sites as heavy lobbying by casinos worked and the Fed blocked the sites from operating legally here. Casinos have seen their businesses decimated by Covid and the irony is that people would have gladly gambled online and played poker on their sites if they had adopted the new technologies and change in consumer behavior instead of trying to criminalize it! The old innovators dilemma :)