Ever heard the term: “The customer is always right”? Wow – what a whole lot of nonsense. Let me offer an alternative mantra: “The customer is often wrong, but you just have to learn to live with it”. Of course – I’m generalizing here. Many customers seek the advice of professionals because they want to make better decisions. They are looking to learn and develop so they can choose based on a wealth of information and not just because they need to show that as customers they are kings. In poker terms you can say that such people don’t settle for a king – they are looking for the ace in the pack. (It’s amazing how I come up with those poker analogies – I have not idea how I do it, but I better find a way to stop).

Then again - I have seen many cases where customers were offered better services, good advise, robust products and they chosen an awful alternative just make the point that since they are the customers you need to listen to them – not the other way around. They would spend hours arguing how smart they are and how they know better – because at the end of the day – they are the customer, they hold the cheque, they are your revenue stream and therefore – “They are right”. Some of the most stressful days in my friend’s professional careers come from such customers, and I think all of us – my friends, me and the readers of this blog – have some hobbies and habits that allow us to blow off that accumulated steam.

Steve, for example, goes for a ride in his very fast car – preferably in a speed that makes a traffic warden weep in joy. Jack jumps off a cliff - he is usually attached to a bungee cable or strapped to a parachute – but not always. John goes for a run and if I’m available I will usually try my best to slow him down. But when the weather is really not nice (and this is England so that happens often) – driving fast, jumping off cliffs and going for a run are not the most pleasant of pursues. What do you do then - Cook? Read a life affirming book? (I hold a copy of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”* at an approachable distance). Oil the doors hinges around the house? Do you play poker?!?!?

Wait. You play poker? Gee, really? Poker – to relax? Being rivered, flushed and running into A/A is a fun activity? Hey mate, you are the customer – you must be right, but somehow I find it hard to see how poker can be more relaxing then a good cup of English tea. If it’s a mental activity that you need then play Sudoku – don’t tell me that Poker is your intelligent choice.

It was in one of those days, raining hell and thunder, that the four of us – Steve, Jack, Paul and I were sitting at Steve’s having beers and crisps. The plan was going down to the local pub but with the weather outside nobody really felt like moving anywhere – and Steve’s place, being the bachelor with the really nice single men apartment was the perfect spot to just chill out and talk about those things that man talk about (in short, nothing intelligent).

Surely enough, it was not long when someone turned on the TV for the football – the stereo was blasting some of that indie folk music Paul likes (Noah and the whale) and I made the foolish mistake of starting a 0.5$ 45-man game on Steve’s laptop. It was a rough day with an ignorant client (but customers are always right) and only god knows why I was thinking this is going to be a relaxing activity.

Now – I consider myself just an average player but I have good stats on those 45’s and I see money about 25% to 30% of the time. An hour later I was sitting on the bubble 7th out of 8 when the lord of virtual cards dealt me the holy grail of hole cards – the above majestic A/A. I was in dealer position and the guys stopped chatting and were leaning behind my shoulders looking on.

-         “Step in, step in” I announced in a business like tone, acting an imaginary auctioneer. “Which one of you clients is going to shove? I have an A/A for sell, and I’ll give it to the highest bidder!”

Happily I seen the other small stack shove all in and I bowed to the laptop as my friends cheered around the living room: “We have a bidder! Must be my client from this morning – I will now show him what a cool customer he is!” I called the shove and raised a couple of big blinds – just in case someone will fancy joining and what a pleasant surprise! The biggest stack, playing the big blinds – called as well.

Now, from this point on, the small stack is irrelevant – if I can get the big stack to keep putting those chips in the middle then I was going to make a bucket – regardless of my result with the tiny stack. The flop was rainbow 3/7/K and the BB pushed half the pot.

-         “It’s a bidding war out there” I continued my live coverage with a monotones voice “they are all lining up to grab a piece of the action – and oh, they are going to get some!”

Calling was almost all of my chips anyway so I shoved all in and got called. The small blind turned a K/K, the big blind 7/7 and they sent me to the cleaners.

- “And there they go!” Paul suddenly chipped in “the favourite comes last and it’s a knockout!”

Paul was laughing, Steve was laughing, and Jack does not do poker – it’s all gambling in his eyes.

-         “It’s okay my good lad” Steve said as he offered me another bottle of beer “just a lesson for you – don’t argue with the customers, they are always right.”

Poker – relaxing?! Ye, right. Rather do cooking.

* a side notes for today’s blog:

“Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig is a real book. Not sure it’s the kind anyone will choose to relax with. It is an important book, but I recommend getting a good night sleep and not playing poker while you read it. The title of today’s blog is some kind of a word play on that book’s title – albeit a very insignificant one.