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Rant: Who Says We Can't All Win in Poker If We Cooperate?
What is competition? It’s a contest, and it’s a notion that is driven into your value and beliefs from a very early age.
Whether you're competing for affection amongst siblings, grades in school, the leer of a fancy or in the rough-and-tumble of a sports event, it’s all lumped in with humanity’s generally accepted view on competition.
It’s not the winning that matters; it’s the taking part.
Opposites But Not Always At Odds
As you get older and the school bell no longer rings competition carries with it a business-driven overtone. Sharper focus is applied to it and failure to pay the word due cognizance will often cut your salary to pieces.
Competition is the opposite of cooperation. But is it always the right approach?
I don’t think so.
When I’m not writing about poker and gambling I have my own business trying to help people recover from alcoholism and other addictions. I want to start turning my knowledge into products and so I asked the almighty Google to help me find some help with this.
My trail led me to two very similar products by two very similar people. Eben Pagan sells a product called the Guru Product Blueprint for $1,997 and Brendan Burchard sells a product called the Total Product Blueprint for $1,997.
Two men who have each amassed several million dollars selling information products, marketing a very similar course, carrying a very similar name, and at the same price.
Now are these competitors? Before you answer that question consider this:
The European Poker Tour (EPT), the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and the World Poker Tour (WPT) are three organizations that exist to create very similar products, in the same locations, and often at the same sort of prices.
Now are these competitors? The answer depends on the attitude of the people/organizations in question.
Do You Read Books?
In the case of Pagan and Burchard they don’t see themselves as competitors because they deliberately acted to prevent this from happening. They got to know each other’s business and then decided to work together.
They co-operated from the get-go. Pagan will tell people to buy Burchard’s products and vice versa, and if you think about this it makes perfect sense.
Do you read books? Have you only ever read one book in your life, or do you read different books from different authors?
Does a really good Stephen King book mean you are never going to buy a book from a different author? Pagan and Burchard benefit from acting co-operatively, and so do their clients. They make more money behaving this way and their customers receive greater value.
Now let’s return to poker's big three. Can the same be said? Are they co-operating or competing
This is a question that can only be answered from within the halls of those three great kingdoms, but from the outside in you can be forgiven for thinking they are, at least to some degree, competing.
The signs of battle are subtle but once you start looking for them they are everywhere.
What About Giacomo Fundaro?
When we have a clash of tournaments who suffers? The customers.
What is the first rule of business? Well, in my handbook it’s to find out what the customer values and then set about creating that value for them.
Creating a clash in poker series schedules does the total opposite. You push your customer into making a choice and you deprive them of the value that they crave, which is to play in your tournament(s).
Victoria Coren’s double-title-winning performance at EPT San Remo is award winning. But how many of you knew that the runner-up, Giacomo Fundaro, was not only a WPT Champion but very nearly joined the double club himself when he finished runner-up to Tony Dunst at the WPT Caribbean Poker Tour at the back end of 2013?
There was hardly a mention of it during the coverage of the event. That’s the equivalent of a German broadcaster covering the Bayern Munich v Real Madrid game and failing to mention that Madrid had just recently won the Copa Del Rey, were one of the favorites for the La Liga title and had won nine Champions League/European Cups.
And don’t worry; I’m not being biased because I write for the WPT. I am more than aware that we do exactly the same thing.
Who Says We Can't All Win?
When we act in this way, when we ignore the successes earned at competitors' tours, what is the purpose? What is the outcome?
The purpose is to not expose our viewers to our competition. The outcome is to take away our customers' value because they don’t get the full breakdown of information.
I think we've gotten it all horribly wrong. By thinking like competitors the big three are missing out on providing the right value to their customers.
By thinking co-operatively they could produce so much more value. Pagan and Burchard have made millions of dollars because they are smart people.
Let’s start using our talents the same way. Work together instead of opposing each other. Don’t just acknowledge that each tour exists but celebrate them and market them, as your co-operators will surely do in return.
What is competition? It’s all about winning. But who says we can’t all win?