Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My History. Your Money.

I come from Wall Street, plain and simple. Hence the nickname. I have made my money in trading distressed debt—the most risky kind of fixed income security. If you want a more detailed explanation of distressed debt, feel free to email me at That is not what I am here to do. I am here to show you how my skills on Wall Street have enabled me to make a serious sum of money playing card games, exclusively No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em.

The basis of making money on Wall Street involves managing your risk/return. You have to take big risks to generate exceptionally high returns. This premise is the same at the poker table and in all gambling. The more risk you take, the more you can expect to win. So, how do you take the best risks? You have to know your opponent and what they are out to obtain. Poker and finance are both a zero-sum game. There is a winner and a loser. The thrill of sales and trading is something that I have carried over to the card tables.

If you are going to sit down at the poker table, you can’t be afraid to lose money. In other words, you can’t get emotionally attached to your money. You have to be willing to put a large bet in the pot, and be willing to lose it, if that’s how the hand turns out. The key is, not losing that big bet. The key is, by making big bets and intimidating your opponent, to make them fold. Size up your opponent. If your opponent in a hand is sitting at the table with his wife or girlfriend, he may be there for just a good time. That makes him a sucker. He may be there to make money to support a living. Either way, figure it out and capitalize.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Rounders, they say the key to making it in poker is to win one or two big hands an hour. I think that’s bullshit. Make a run when you can to maximize your earnings, and lay low when the cards just aren’t coming. In other words, limit your downside. What I’ve learned from trading distressed debt is that the good times are great, and the bad times can make you feel like shit. What’s worse, is you don’t ever remember your great days, but you sure as hell remember the bad ones. In poker, it’s the same way. Now, I’m telling you all to be aggressive, but don’t be stupid. If you don’t have it, lay it down. But if you think you have your opponent outsmarted and on the defensive, push hard. Make that son of a bitch squirm in his seat and toil with the idea of folding. No one wants to look like a pussy, but most amateur players don’t want to go home with less money than they went to the poker room with either. This is your advantage. Put them in a position to lose all their money, and do it when they seem the most vulnerable.

Develop a persona at the table. Make people fear you and make them wonder why they don’t have the swagger you have at the table. Make them feel small, and make their chip stack small. On the trading floor the same principle applies. The traders who are “nice” just don’t cut it. They get eaten alive. Don’t let that be you. As they say about successful traders, be a “big swinging dick.”

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