Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A new poker book you should check out!

Excerpt from Poker Woman- How to Win at Love, life and, business using the principles of poker. Written by Ellen Leikind Forward written by Kathy Liebert

While the book is written for women, when I read this excerpt I think Ellen's book may help me and other male poker players. For example, I often make the mistake of the third type of male poker player--Mr. Romeo.

Poker Woman looks like a great stocking stuffer or Holiday gift. It's available to pre-order now at and on amazon. You can also follow Ellen on Twitter at @ellsky.

From Chapter Breaking into the boys club

Most businesses are still clubhouses for the boys. Regardless of the profession or how well you may get along with the men in your industry, there is a distinction between the way men and women do business. One woman we spoke to works for an organization heavily populated by men at the more senior levels. As a senior executive, she spends a lot of time with them, unlike the other women in the office, who tend to have the more administrative jobs. While she has no doubt that the men within her group respect her, she also knows that there are times that she is excluded from either a lunch or social outing because she is not “one of the boys.” Typically, she’ll joke about it, just so that they know that she is aware. And they are aware, but the bottom line is that there is still a boys’ club to which she has been denied admission.

The dilemma is plain: How do you get access? Denying a woman access to a board meeting on the basis of her gender might be ridiculous—not to mention legally actionable—but a social occasion is another matter altogether. Whether it’s a round of golf, a night at a club, or a game of poker, there are social spaces where women are either totally excluded or made to feel unwelcome. Your presence is cramping their style! You’re making it impossible for them to do whatever is the male equivalent of “letting their hair down.”

Poker is probably one of the last legitimized boys’ clubs. If you walk into the poker room, you’ll find that it is 85 percent to 90 percent male dominated. While there are a lot of poker players who work well with women and play well with them, there are also those who aren’t used to having them in the room and resent their presence.

Well, that’s their problem. You have every right to be in that room. Don’t hold your breath waiting to be invited. Ask to be included and be persistent. Even if you get a reluctant invitation to be the token female, take it. Now, that doesn’t mean they’re going to put you at ease when you first get there. You’re going to have to make yourself comfortable. There are some women who are absolutely fearless and have no problem walking into a situation where they’re not welcome. But for the rest of us, here are a few tips:

First, walk in with confidence. You must seem fearless, whether or not you actually are. It can be very unnerving to walk into a poker room with 500 men and twenty-five women. Perhaps it’s even worse when you’re the only woman in a group of ten. The first time you walk into that situation, it’s extraordinarily intimidating, but you can do it. It may not feel comfortable at first, but it will get better each time. It’s just like your first dance, your first job interview, your first business meeting, or your first public speaking engagement. Even if you’re a nervous wreck, put on a brave face. It’s okay to fake your confidence. One day you won’t have to.

The other technique that’s helpful is to just watch and listen for a while. Don’t walk in and try to make your mark instantly. Feel out the table. See what the different personalities are. Who is potentially your ally? Who do you think is going to be your biggest problem? After you’ve analyzed the room, you can find your comfort zone. This is an example of how “acting last” can be a good strategic play. Don’t throw that advantage away by sitting down at the table, concentrating solely on the cards, and getting into the action too fast; you’ll miss an opportunity to understand the players. It’s very important to understand who’s aggressive, who’s passive, who wants to be your friend, and who’s already against you.

Watching and learning is a key component, just as it would be in a business situation. Did you ever work with someone who, after being on the job for only a day, walks into a meeting and starts talking about her own agenda without having any idea of the players or protocol? It’s fine to be assertive, but if you look before you leap you will be more effective.

While you observe, keep in mind that you’re not the only one in the room who is likely to feel uncomfortable. It can be unsettling for men to have you on their turf. It’s very interesting to see the responses this trespass can provoke. And at the poker table, when confronted with a female opponent, men will typically revert to one of three iconic characters.

One is going to be a bully. You’re a female, you shouldn’t be there, he’s angry that you’re there, and he’s going to make every effort to try to put you in your place. He may attempt to intimidate you by playing very aggressively against you, by betting back very hard at you, trying to make you fold every hand, and making you fearful. He’ll persist in these tactics until either you push him back or you start taking his money. But the good news about the bully is if, in fact, you’re getting very good cards at the table, you’re going to make a lot of money. That’s because he’s not going to want to lose to a woman. He is not going to want to fold to you, so as you’re betting, he’s either raising you or he’s betting back, and you stand to win a good amount of cash. Just remember that when playing against a bully, you cannot bluff. He’s always coming back at you.

The second type of man at the table is the one who sees you as his mother or sister, the Madonna complex. He is going to be very respectful toward you. He may just check or will call all of your bets but he’s not going to raise you. He’s going to get out of your way when you’re raising. He doesn’t really want much to do with you, but he’s polite and pleasant. In life, this is your typical “nice guy.”

And then, of course, there’s the guy who is looking for a date, Mr. Romeo. I don’t think I’m saying anything shocking or new here, but whether it’s on a supermarket checkout line, a flight to Chicago, or even at a funeral, there are guys for whom any interaction with a woman is an opportunity to score. Speaking from a purely tactical standpoint (we’ll leave ethics to another book), women can use this to their advantage. This is the kind of guy who will fold when he should be raising you. He may flirt openly with you. He may tell you not to call his raises, because he has a good hand. For Mr. Romeo, now that you’re at the table, it’s ceased to be a game of poker. As far as he’s concerned, the two of you are on a date and the poker game is background noise. If maintaining that fiction means losing an extra $50 or $100 to you or not making some money off of somebody else, he’s going to do it. The way he sees it, it’s a form of passive dating rather than taking you out for dinner or a drink. He doesn’t mind losing a couple of bucks to you at the table.

About the Author- Ellen Leikind

After 15 years as a successful marketing executive working for Fortune 500 companies, Leikind took a one year hiatus from her career and rediscovered poker, a game she had learned as a teenager. It was at that time she first made the connections explored in her book. "The more she played poker, the more she saw the similarities between the card game and the larger 'game' of business and personal fulfillment. Ellen Leikind founded POKERprimaDIVAS, a company that provides corporate programs and entertainment to teach women to use the principles acquired at the poker table to enhance their business skills. She has an MBA in marketing from Fordham University and is a devoted native New Yorker.

The book is available at and on amazon.
You can also follow Ellen on Twitter at @ellsky.

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