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poker and business

Paul Phua talks about how being a successful businessman improved his poker game

“Poker is definitely not a game for the hot-headed. In fact, the Texas Holdem players who have the coolest heads are almost always the players who do best and win the most money.

In my 20’s before I started playing Texas Holdem, I didn’t have the best temperament for playing games for money. When I won, I didn’t quit. When I lost, I also didn’t quit. Both of those circumstances are bad for your wallet!

But as my business career progressed, I learned a lot of skills. The casino junket business taught me a lot. And it made me a much better card and poker player.

Patience made me a better poker player

The first thing I learned in the casino junket businesses is that you see people come and go. Sometimes you have to realise it just isn’t your day, and quitting is the best thing to do. Sometimes you just have to wait for the right moment.

It’s also made me a better poker player. In your business dealings, you need a lot of patience. Things don’t happen overnight. It’s taught me to wait for the right time. In poker that can mean sitting hands out.

There are some great young Texas Holdem poker players. You see kids dropping out of school at 16 to play professional online poker. Some succeed, but many don’t have the temperament. I used to play Five Card Stud when I was 16 or 17 (Texas Holdem was unknown then in Singapore). But I didn’t do so well in cards at that time. I was too young and I didn’t have the commitment and time. I now realise that much like in business, you need to learn the game.

Paul Phua says build up your poker skills slowly

Maybe some of those kids dropping out of school would have a better chance at succeeding if they had spent a few years working, trying to build something slowly, and then coming to the poker table or casino afterwards.

My career in the casino junket business, and after that in real estate investment and everything else I have expanded into has taught me that you need patience. You need to recognise when it isn’t your day. And you need to stay humble and never stop learning. Those pieces of wisdom have served me well around the Texas Holdem poker table as much as they have in the boardroom.”

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