Pai Gow Poker And A Simple Formula For Financial Success

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If you ever go with me to the casino, you’ll often find me playing cards at the Pai Gow poker table. Now Pai Gow is definitely NOT the sexiest game at the casino, nor is it one that draws a huge crowd.

But those who appreciate Pai Gow love the game for its simplicity, its longevity and its potential for a large payout.

Pai Gow Poker And My Own Personal Formula For Financial Success

In fact, I love the game so much that I’ve pretty much modeled my entire entrepreneurial career based on a simple card game. Here’s what I mean.

How Does Pai Gow Work

Pai Gow

Below is a quick 1 paragraph description of how the game works. You and the dealer are dealt 7 cards. And with these 7 cards, you create 2 poker hands, a 2 card hand and a 5 card hand. Both of your hands then go up directly against the dealer’s 2 hands.

If you win both poker hands, you win the bet. If you lose both, you lose. And if you win one and lose one, you tie and no money changes hands.

Here’s the thing. More than half the time, you end up tying with the dealer and you get to keep your money.

Sounds pretty boring right? How can Pai Gow possibly be fun if you’re pushing with the dealer more than half the time? How the heck can you make real money playing such a slow game?

The Secret To Pai Gow

The secret to Pai Gow lies with the fortune side bet. Whenever you play a hand of Pai Gow, you are offered the chance to put some additional money in a side pot that pays out like a slot machine depending on what hands you’re dealt in the regular game.

For example if you happen to get a straight flush, you win a large sum of money. Even hands as low as 3 of a kind still pay out a decent multiple of your bet. And as if that weren’t enough, you can still win even if a “different player” at the table gets a good hand as well.

Therefore, even though you might be tying the dealer more than half the time and not making any money on the regular game, you always have the chance for a huge payout.

How Pai Gow Applies To Real Life

Pai Gow Quit

Remember when I said that the regular game of Pai Gow is boring as hell? Well it turns out that Pai Gow is an excellent analogy for your day job.

A regular day job is great for paying the bills and making ends meet but you will NEVER ever make life changing money by working for someone else. Even if you were to go above and beyond and make your company a lot of money, your potential upside is capped by your steady salary.

On the other hand, the fortune side bet is where it’s at. By placing a small side bet on the table, you have the potential to make a thousand times the money you would make otherwise. But the catch is that you have to pay to play.

In real life, your fortune side bet is starting your own business. You might not win on your first try but the longer you play, the more likely you will succeed.

One of the reasons I love the regular game of Pai Gow is because I can go to the casino and play all night without losing all my money. And my ability to last a long time gives me some runway and a chance to hit the jackpot!

A More Conservative Approach To Entrepreneurship

One of the questions I most often get asked is whether you should quit your job cold turkey to pursue your business full time.

And I almost always reply hell no!

Ideally, you should keep your day job until you’ve had a chance to fully validate your business idea BEFORE taking the plunge.

After all, running a business is hard and you definitely don’t want financial stress to cloud your judgement.

Even though you might hate your day job and you can’t stand your boss, think of your day job as a means to an end.

Use your salary to buy you some extra time until you can find that special idea. Stick with something steady until your side project gets off of its feet.

Overall, there are no guarantees with any business. But one thing is for sure. The more time you have to validate your business idea, the more likely that you will eventually succeed.

The best and safest entrepreneurial strategies involve creating a safety net and having the freedom to take small calculated risks.

The Truth About Entrepreneurship

Here’s what’s ironic about entrepreneurship. At this point, I’ve interviewed well over 50 successful entrepreneurs on my podcast and not a single one of them has ever struck me as a big time risk taker.

And I don’t know if the media is to blame but there seems to be this crazy myth that successful entrepreneurs like to take wild gambles. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Almost everyone that I’ve interviewed so far has taken a methodical and conservative approach to starting their businesses. And to put it succinctly, here’s what they do…

They take small calculated risks. They don’t bet the farm and they iterate on their mistakes.

When my wife and I first started, we both worked our full time jobs while crafting our ecommerce store on the side and here were the scenarios that played out in our heads.

Worse case scenario? Our business flops and we both continue to work at our day jobs.

Medium case scenario? My wife works full time on the business while my day job supports the family.

Best case scenario? Our online store takes off big time and we sip margaritas on the beach for the rest of our lives.

Obviously the best case scenario has yet to happen but we’re doing pretty well and make much more money than we can spend.

The key point here is that starting a business doesn’t have to be scary. If you are going to take a gamble, then make sure you have a backup plan. If you decide to play Pai Gow poker, make sure that you always place some money on the fortune side bet and someday you will see a payout.

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9 thoughts on “Pai Gow Poker And A Simple Formula For Financial Success”

  1. Kayvee says:

    Dear Steve

    I just want to acklowdge you for giving the world so much value in knowledge and in tools.

    You are an inspiration to all of us.

    Please, Keep doing what you are doing.

    Kayvee

  2. I love your analogy and advice, Steve. This line in particular struck me:

    “The best and safest entrepreneurial strategies involve creating a safety net and having the freedom to take small calculated risks.”

    Having a surplus of money and no debt creates choice. Having the ability to make choices (like to quit or keep a job) = FREEDOM.

    Because I had already paid off my debt (including my mortgage) and saved a nice emergency fund, I was able to move in with my mother and take care of her in her last year of life. She passed last week and I’m so grateful that we were able to have the time together that we did. It wouldn’t have been possible had I been a wild risk-taker or lived on credit.

    Wise advice, my friend.

    Ree

    1. Hey Ree,
      I was on vacation so I didn’t see your comment until now. I’m so sorry for your loss and wanted to express my sincere condolences. I’m glad that everything is set for you financially

    2. I am so sorry for your loss Ree. What a blessing it must have been for her to spend so much time with her daughter her last year of life.

      1. @Steve and @Jennifer ~ Thank you for your thoughts about my loss. I can’t imagine how tortured with regret I would have been had I not had the financial resources to be with her over the last year. If for no other reason, gaining financial flexibility on any level is so important because it gives you options.

  3. Very sage advice.

    I totally subscribe to mastering the work/side business blend until you can eventually make a clean break.

    Take advantage of the cash flow from your JOB to test, tweak, and validate your idea.

    Cheers!

  4. Great post as always Steve! I have been saving this in my inbox for a while, wanting to read it and it was just what I needed this week!

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