Want to talk business? Play poker instead
Japanese lawmakers passed a bill to promote the establishment of integrated resorts that include casinos in late December 2016. Many Japanese people are worried about the passage of the bill, as gambling is associated with addiction and financial trouble. But there are also upsides, including the creation of new jobs, an increase in tax receipts and a boost to Japan’s attraction as a tourist destination.
It is easy to have a negative image of casinos. But, the Japanese public already deal with many products in the course of their daily lives that offer a lower return than gambling in a casino – for example, Japan’s national lottery and sports promotion lottery, some insurance and investment trusts and forex are less attractive in terms of the tax deductability of gains. Thus, things that have positive connotations are less advantageous than casino gambling.
You can't beat the house in the long run, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t games at which you can win – these are not gambling games in which the customer bets against the house, but games of skill, like poker and mahjong, in which customers play against one another.
Business giants play poker
People who know nothing about poker may think it is nothing more than a card game. But in other countries, many successful businesspeople and celebrities are poker players. Business legends such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, former US President Barack Obama, and hedge fund manager David Einhorn are poker enthusiasts. And poker is also enjoyed by famous sportspersons, such as soccer players Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar and swimmer Michael Phelps, perhaps because both poker and sport require strategic thinking and acompetitive spirit.
Poker on the rise in Japan
More and more people in Japan are playing poker, with Takafumi Horie, founder of SNS Inc. (former CEO of Livedoor) and Koichi Okawa (founder of Mag2) among its aficionados. And when musician Gackt recently won seventh prize in a poker tournament in the Philippines it created quite a buzz on the Internet.
It is very common among top businesspeople inside and outside Japan to enjoy games of skill generally, as evidenced by Kazuyo Katsuma (writer on economics) opening a games café in Tokyo and Susumu Fujita (President of CyberAgent) speaking about mahjong as a profession.
And the Japanese are attracting global attention as poker players. Two Japanese emerged victorious in the WOSP (World Series of Poker) international poker championship, and it is no longer unusual for Japanese citizens to earn their livings in the international poker scene. You may dismiss them as gambling addicts, but they have the linguistic skills, financial wherewithal and brainpower to make a living overseas.
Many non-Japanese regard the Japanese as well-suited to poker, as they tend to be good at numbers and practised at maintaining an inscrutable “poker face” that conceals what we are thinking. President Trump sees the Japanese as a hard people to do business with – because of that unsmiling, impassive poker face. And people versed in the culture of poker are, perhaps, trustworthy in that, while the game calls for bluffing, they don't brag or flatter.
What poker and business have in common
Many people have used poker as a springboard into the business world. Oil magnate H. L. Hunt won his first oilfield in a poker game. The legendary Turtle Trader, which teaches the science and art of trend following to traders, used gamblers in its turtles experiment to prove that the art of trading can be taught.
And recently some hedge funds and securities companies have been looking at professional poker players in a bid to discover talented individuals. Former pro poker player Aaron Brown believes that people who have succeeded in making a long-term living as professional poker players are more likely than non-poker players to become top-notch traders. James Simons, founder of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, instituted the Poker Night on Wall Street Tournament to unearth new talent. Simons is not interested in the traditional educated elite, but is looking for people who in a practical situation can coolly and calmly see through the risks to discern their likely return.
Golf and triathlon are leisure pursuits beloved of the rich. They have much in common with life and business, such as the fun of experiencing the challenge of life in microcosm, the sense of power that comes with building your game, and the perseverance not to give into the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
Poker is like this too. And, with skill and a little bit of luck, you can win a fortune! The rich are hooked on poker because – as in business – if you play well, it can bring you everything from riches to fame and glory and a sense of achievement.
This makes the world of poker a goldmine for human talent. And playing poker at a serious level shows that you have the enough time and money to devote your attention to perfecting your game. Playing poker offers an excellent opportunity for business networking – better than attending cross-industry social events or other business information forums attended by people whose backgrounds you know nothing about.