Chamath Palihapitiya: 'Poker is a Microcosm of My Own Life'

Published on 6 July 2014 by Pokerlistings 628
Chamath Palihapitiya is one of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley and he's been a regular at poker games around the US for years. Palihapitiya has held top positions at companies like Facebook and AOL and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital. Palihapitiya is competing right now at the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event and took a few minutes on a break to tell why he loves poker. Palihapitiya began his life poor and after fighting his way to the extreme opposite end of the financial spectrum he now realizes how similar life and poker really are. In life and poker success takes skill, but it also needs luck and fortuitous timing. Listen to a brilliant mind compare life and poker and keep watching for the latest news and video from the 2014 World Series of Poker.
I think at the end of the day, why I love playing poker so much is it really is a microcosm of my own life. You have some skill in that, we have a bunch of starting cards. You have a bunch of other things though that are not in your control and then there's a bunch of luck and then ultimately there's an outcome and, in some cases, it all plays out great and everything happens the way it should an you win. In other cases you lose and in other cases, you think you're going to win and you get a bad beat, that basically is life and at least in my case, having lived all of those scenarios multiple times in my real life, I just feel like poker's a great way to just reinforce the fact that this wasn't divine intervention and it wasn't meant to be and so you have to be grateful and you have to have fun along the way and you have to be able to take some risking gamble and if it all comes together on the average you'll be in a better place.

Over the last few years has become very evident to me that as you get more successful, the thing that you have to do is you have to find a way to bring other people along. The interesting thing about me is I started at one end of the world spectrum, I grew up on welfare. I have always been very honest and candid about that and we needed a social safety infrastructure and a safety net for me to have a chance and for my sisters to have a chance, and now I find myself at the other end of that spectrum but at least in my case, I've gotten into that other end and all I can think of is all those other great people that maybe not weren't as lucky as I was, and I really do think that a lot of what's happened to me is luck. There's some skill but there's also a lot of luck and timing and so I think we all owe ourselves a chance for us to discover other great people and we can do great things, build great things, invent great things, discover great things, cure great things, right?

I think we used to live in a world 20 or 30 years ago where the situation in which you were born in largely dictated the outcome of your life and the great thing about the world today is that that's not necessarily true. I think now what we're finding is that there are systems being built, the cost of technology is so cheap and then the accessibility of technology now is so straight forward that it's going to start to expose these extremely talented people who otherwise may have been marginalized because of where they were born or their gender or their race or their religion, now they can overcome those things.

For me I'm just excited to see how that plays out because the reality is you're probably going to see an amazing class of individual that we never saw before. They're going to be of all different shapes and sizes and colors and we're going to wonder to ourselves, where were those people 30 years ago. Well the reality is they were there 30 years ago. It's just that we had a very strict hierarchical way of judging those people and didn't let them in and now they can actually just barge through the doors and do whatever they want and I think that's a really positive development.