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Vultures Rock! - by the Nightshade Fairy

This is the sixth article where we are applying poker strategy to our career game plan. Last time we looked at Mike Caro's suggestion to disregard what you've already contributed to the pot. Sticking with a certain losing situation because you've already put in a lot of time, money, or effort is making a Bad Decision and will negatively affect your career (and poker) bankroll.

We will return to more of Caro's advice later. For this article, we'll look at another observation from the Poker Brat. In Play Poker Like the Pros, Phil Hellmuth, Jr. says: "Good game theory suggests that you wait for big starting hands before you get involved..."

We are talking about patience and discipline here. Patience is waiting for a favorable situation, and discipline is making good decisions and following through during the favorable situation.

Which is why Nightshade likes vultures.

Vultures suffer from a badly written job description. Vultures wait for an animal to die, and then they swarm in and eat the carcass. They are reviled as unattractive birds with bald heads, unremarkable plumage, and they have bad breath from eating rotten food.

This is nonsense. "Carrion Removal Engineers" would be a better way to describe the vulture's role and responsibilities. Their bald heads reduce the chance of getting infections if they happen to spill food on themselves. The unremarkable plumage obviously works well enough to attract a mate and create little vultures. Bad breath? Lots of humans I know have bad breath, and they don't even eat sun-ripe carrion.

A vulture's virtues are its patience and discipline. They wait for the favorable situation where their next meal turns into carrion, and then they follow through with nature's housecleaning tasks.

Which leads us to our next career advice.

Advice # 6 - Patience and discipline are good. At the Texas Hold'em poker table, a Fish plays way too many starting hands. Pareto's Principle reminds us that only 20%, or about one in five starting hands, are worth playing. The successful poker player has the patience to wait for those good starting hands. Most players bluff too frequently with poor starting hands, and decrease their bankrolls more than if they simply waited for better starting hands.

Discipline allows the poker player to make good decisions based on the hole cards, the cards on the community board, the mathematics of the game, table position, and the soft skills in evaluating the other players at the table. Patience to wait for good starting cards, and the discipline to play those cards correctly, are profitable poker skills.

Let's look at a real career example. Speaking of vultures, have you ever worked as an IT contractor?

I'm talking about hard-core IT contracting through a job shop and placement at a Big Company. So far, every placement Nightshade had as a contractor at a Big Company, I have been treated like an undesirable vulture with smelly breath, drab threads, and retro hair. Yes, contractors are hired to do the undesirable jobs that the Real Employees are too squeamish, or too proud, to do. Ever notice that contractors are great at doing these undesirable jobs, and they don't complain? Sometimes the contractor's work performance is so good that at least one Real Employee thinks he's missing out on a treat and makes noise until the IT contractor is let go and replaced by the Real Employee.

But I digress. Nightshade was contracted through a shop to work at a Big Company, doing project management for a small software group that was so hard to handle, no Real Employee would touch it. My client boss was disengaged and allowed this group to run rampant with its Raging Hubris and marginal technical ability. Nightshade wasn't the only one subject to the Raging Hubris group's wrath. Some help desk people associated with a certain large software company in Redmond still remember the names and insults from Raging Hubris group whenever Big Company's name is mentioned (this was verified independently... Nightshade is not making this up).*

As Big Companies must do, they re-organized after a few months. This opened a desirable project management position in a nearby group, and Nightshade had some soul-searching to do. Stay with the current Raging Hubris group that treated contractors like (ugly) vultures, or endure some discomfort until I could move to the better group?

The job shop liked me just where I was. The boss of the other group wanted me in her group, but was powerless to affect the outcome. My disengaged client boss had passed it off to her incoming replacement. My replacement client boss wanted to reduce my responsibilities so I'd stop stifling the creative children in the Raging Hubris group. The members of the Raging Hubris group considered me to be contractor (vulture) scum anyway.

So I said that I wanted to switch to the other position.

The torment from the Raging Hubris group was excessive and downright unprofessional. But Nightshade did the crap work, smiling inside because after all, a contractor is paid by the hour. My patience finally wore down the Raging Hubris group until they couldn't find any other demeaning junk jobs for me to work on. I got the transfer to the other group.

What was the reward for putting up with the torment? I had the privilege of working for a boss who was the very, very best I've ever had. And Big Company paid an outrageous hourly rate for me to do crap work while the Raging Hubris group punished me because I wanted to transfer to another group. My bankroll didn't mind, and I got the transfer anyway. Patience and discipline won the day. Score one for the vultures.

Next time, we will look at what you're really telling the other players in the workplace when you whine about Bad Luck, and how this is unprofitable to your career bankroll.

Play Poker Like the Pros by Phil Hellmuth, Jr. can be found at http://www.amazon.com/.

* Note from Shocking Pink: Yes, this is true. I was on an assignment to fix a MS-based deployment, had to call Redmond for help, we got to talking about who we knew, and the names of people from this group came up. Half a decade after Nightshade and I had left off working there! Let's just say even us Fairies wouldn't repeat what they said. But trust us, memories are long in the world of IT.

· The Poker Game that is Our Career
· About Bad Luck
· Never Get Even for the Night
· Don't Go On Tilt
· Hubris, Anyone?
· The Game Changes as You Play
· Vultures Rock!
· Stop Whining


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