Breast Your Cards

When my parents met, my dad had two sources of income.  He rode the rodeo circuit and dealt poker.   Hey, it was 1949 and Wyoming.  It wasn’t that odd.

It also didn’t seem odd when my dad taught me how to count by playing poker.

He actually used poker as a metaphor for lots of things.  I watched when, as a high level executive in the ‘60s (think Mad Men…but not in advertising) he made sure to play poker with the people he was going to work with.  He said you could tell a lot about someone the way they played cards.  Mostly he was looking for how did they handle the ups and downs of the game.  Did they congratulate the winner, or were they angry that they lost?  Did they enjoy themselves, or was it somehow a tense experience?

Poker was, and still is, a good way to understand the nature of a person.

What he told me most often was “breast your cards”.  I had the habit of not keeping my cards close, and so others might easily glance at them.  Little hands and enthusiasm can outweigh such precautions in 5 year olds.

And, like all the other things I learned about poker from my dad, this one wasn’t really about cards.  It’s about setting a healthy wall around what people get to know, and when they get to know it.

Do you breast your cards around money?  I’m not talking about keeping money an unspoken taboo…to our detriment, most of us do that on some level.  I’m talking about knowing when to share and when to be quiet.  In poker, the other player can always choose to see your cards. They just have to call the bet.  In life, before you show your cards, have you made sure the other player has contributed to the hand?  Have you ever offered someone a discount before they’ve even expressed an opinion about your price?  That would be showing your cards.

It’s also showing your cards if, right up front, you try to handle and talk about every objection your customer might have.  In that case, showing your hand gives them things to worry about they hadn’t even thought of.

Be judicious about when you show your cards and you will have cleaner and clearer transactions.  And you won’t be giving yourself away.

2 thoughts on “Breast Your Cards

  1. Irene

    I especially like your observation about offering a discount before the prospect has inquired about prices. Good advice. I enjoyed the article.

  2. Suzy

    My Grandmother was very elegant and “breast your cards” was said a lot if we were acting goofy while playing cards.

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