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Poker Tips For Property Developers

Ritchie Clapson, co-founder of propertyCEO, comments

The late Jimmy Greaves famously described football as a ‘funny old game’, and as someone who’s not particularly partial to our national sport, I’d probably have to agree with him. Grown men and women chasing around a muddy pitch after a leather ball in all weathers does, on paper, sound like a hobby to avoid, both as a participant and a spectator. But I fully appreciate that I’m in the minority, and that to many it is indeed the beautiful game, beauty being, as ever and quite fortunately, in the eye of the beholder.

An even funnier game can be found in more temperate climes, namely the baize-topped splendour of your local casino. Here you can participate in the singularly unique game of strategy and chance known as poker. I’m not a proponent of that game either, but I must admit to a certain amount of fascination with its concept. Like football, the basic facts don’t nearly do it justice. Get dealt some cards along with a few other people, and then the person with the best hand usually wins – it doesn’t sound that exciting. But of course, it’s not as straightforward or fortuitous as that. And that’s because you have a more organic variable to deal with, namely the people holding the cards. You don’t get to see other people’s hands when you bet, so you must try and judge whether they’re holding a good hand or a bad one. And the only things you have to go on are the lie of the visible cards, your competitors’ betting patterns, and their body language. Bluff and counterbluff; it’s all going on in poker. Or at least it might be.

You’ll have to watch very closely to find out. Some players even wear sunglasses to stop themselves from revealing subconscious tell-tale expressions of jubilation or disappointment on receiving their cards. So, if you’re a habitual fist-pumper who can’t keep your emotions in check, poker might not be your thing (although I suspect you’d be welcomed into the poker community with open arms).

Poker, like football, has spawned several idioms that have made it into common parlance. ‘Keeping your cards close to your chest’ and ‘wearing a poker face’ immediately come to mind. And here, the humble property developer could learn from their sunglass-toting counterparts at the card table. All too often, the novice property speculator can give a little too much away when going about their business. The most common example I hear about occurs during discussions with commercial agents, often while out on viewings. The inexperienced developer, keen to prove their credibility, decides to regale the agent with the exact details of what they intend to do to the property being viewed. They’ll be knocking through here, adding an extra bit there, and using two different permitted development rights to create some rather wonderful apartments. 

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