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Why Silicon Valley's Elites Are Obsessed With Poker

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Why Silicon Valley's Elites Are Obsessed With Poker

Post by jock2007 on Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:44 pm

businessinsider wrote:Why Silicon Valley's Elites Are Obsessed With Poker  And It's Not Just Because Of The Money

[size=71]E[/size]very month, some of Silicon Valley’s biggest power players meet at the Palo Alto home of Chamath Palihapitiya, an early Facebook executive who now runs his own venture capital firm Social+Capital. The guest list reads like a who’s who of Silicon Valley’s true elites: from Yammer founder David Sacks, SurveyMonkey’s Dave Goldberg and Inside.com’s Jason Calacanis to professional athletes and poker players, including the World Series of Poker champion Phil Hellmuth.
Mike Nudelman
But this isn’t for some networking or investment opportunity of a hot startup. They meet for something much more fun: a game of poker.
“It was meant to basically put together 9 or 10 of the most competitive people in Silicon Valley and play poker,” Palihapitiya, who’s been hosting home poker nights for a few years now, told Business Insider. “Once you get this competitive group of people together on the same table, it’s super fun.”
The level of play is far beyond regular amateur tables. For example, Palihapitiya, who often walks off with the most chips, has played in some of the highest stake poker tournaments, including the World Series of Poker, where he finished 101st out of more than 7,000 contestants in 2011.
In fact, according to Hellmuth, a 12-time world champion in Texas Hold’em, the skill level is so high that he was only able to hit break-even in the first three years he played there. “In general, great businessmen are great poker players. There’s a reason these guys made so much money in the real world. Those skills translate to poker,” Hellmuth tells us.
“In general, great businessmen are great poker players. There’s a reason these guys made so much money in the real world. Those skills translate to poker,” Phil Hellmuth says.
Once the game starts, the intensity could easily turn up in a matter of seconds. They play for hours, well past 2AM on some occasions. And while the stakes remain relatively modest, $10,000 bluffs do happen in the most heated moments.
But Palihapitiya says the cash part of the game is mostly irrelevant. It’s rather about the thrill of playing and winning against highly competitive people, and just trying to master every nuance of a game that, he says, “you can learn so easily, but never master.”
Poker has relatively simple rules. In traditional Texas Hold’em poker, each player is first dealt a set of two cards, which are not shown to others, and then a shared pile of five cards on the table. The first three of the five shared cards are dealt at once, and after a round of betting, the fourth card is shown. The fifth card is uncovered after another round of betting.
But, in between each round of betting, there’s intense strategy and mind-games involved that requires a lot of intellect and discipline throughout the game.
That’s what makes poker such a complex - and fascinating - game, Palihapitiya says. There’s a chance of overcoming a poor hand, if you play it smart. Or you could lose everything with a single mistake, just when you thought you were going to win a big hand.
In that sense, Palihapitiya says, there’s a certain element of poker that almost “mirrors life and running a startup.” It’s why so many entrepreneurs love the game. He sums up the similarities in six distinct points:
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